|6’||200||2-5-04||D||L||6th 2020 Import||108 NA||RUSSIA|
|2019-20||Russia U-16||Yaroslavl U-16||27||7||28||35|
For Soo Greyhounds defenceman Kirill Kudryavtsev, the draft year began by helping Russia capture a gold medal at the 2021 Hlinka-Gretzky Tournament.
The Greyhounds had just selected Kudryavtsev with the sixth overall pick in June at the CHL Import Draft. Immediately following the Hlinka-Gretzky, he committed to joining the Greyhounds for his draft year.
There were expectations on Kudryavtsev entering the OHL. He was known for having an impact at both ends of the ice. Sometimes it takes a bit of patience with a European player coming to North America and playing on the smaller ice surface. That said, I’ve been impressed with his progression this season.
Kudryavtsev has some decent wheels when he gets going at top speed. However, it takes some time for him to reach it. I think improving his first few steps will go a long way for him. When he reaches top speed, he uses it to his advantage to join the rush. His puck handling is very good and I think he sees the ice well enough that he can make plays.
Kudryavtsev also has a variety of very nice shots. What is best about it is that he can adjust his release point. He can also bring it in close to his blades and get off a shot from there. Too many times however, he is looking to make the play rather than take the shot himself. When he does decide to shoot – only 87 in 68 games – it’s always with a purpose. He’s looking for those tips and rebounds for his teammates.
Defensively, I have also been impressed with his development. Early on there was some tentativeness to take opponents to the wall and engage in front of his own net to help his goaltenders see the shots coming. It has come along. Even his puck retrieval skills have improved and can only get better if he and when he works on those first few steps I mentioned. His decisions when exiting the zone were not always the best, but there has been a marked improvement there as the season has progressed. Maybe it’s confidence. Maybe it’s getting use to the smaller ice because everything was coming at him faster this year then in previous years.
I’ve seen him called “the best Russian Defenceman with a 2004 birthdate.” I don’t know that I would go that far, but the skills and talent level have me intrigued for sure.