Devils Draft Series: Rodion Amirov, Two-Way Forward With Untapped Offensive Potential

Rodion Amirov is the top Russian skater in the upcoming draft. (Photo by: Matt Hiscox Photography)

Profile

Rodion Amirov is an 18-year-old Russian left-winger who has an October birthday, which makes him an older player in this class. The left-handed shot is listed at 6-foot, 177 pounds. He has played his whole junior hockey career in his home country Russia, most recently splitting time between the three levels of the Russian professional system. Amirov is ranked fifth among European skaters in the final 2020 Draft Prospect Rankings

The Statistics

Amirov started his junior hockey career as a 15-year-old in the Russian U-16 junior league, where he played 30 games, tallying 36 points (18 goals, 18 assists). The following season he played in the Russian U-17 junior league, where he exploded for 53 points (24 goals, 29 assists) in only 30 games, and held a rating of plus-52. His 53 points led the league and did it in only 30 games. This compared to the rest of the league, who all seemingly played more than that number.

He also spent 12 games as a 16-year-old, in the top Russian junior league, the MHL, tallying three points in 12 games. He spent a short-time lighting up the Russian U-18 league (22 points in nine games) the following season before once again playing in the MHL, where he improved to 26 points in 31 games. 

This brings you to this season, where Amirov played in each the MHL (Russian top-junior league), the VHL (Russian minor league), and even in the KHL (Russian top-professional league). In 17 MHL games, he racked up 22 points in 17 games. In only five VHL games, he had three points. And lastly, in 21 KHL games, he only had two assists and a minus-six rating.  

Amirov has also played a lot internationally. In 38 career junior international games, he has a total of 28 points (16 goals, 12 assists). He was not a participant in the U-20 World Junior Championships but did partake in the U-18 tournament during the 2018-19 season. He played extremely well, tallying the seventh-most points (four goals, five assists in seven games) among the 200 players in the tournament. This number also led his team. 

Amirov’s Scouting Report

Strengths

Amirov is an extremely smart player for his young age. This ability, along with a strong work ethic, is one of the main reasons why he is solid in both zones of the ice. His strong work ethic also comes into effect during puck battle, and even though he may not be the biggest in terms of strength, the determination often wins. He also does a great job in using his speed and excellent stick to cause turnovers and takeaways. All-in-all he is great in the defensive end.

Offensively, Amirov has a solid shot. His wrist-shot is quick as is evident in the tape. Another part of this area he excels in is puck control. He is a pretty solid skater overall, especially in terms of elusiveness. The excellent puck control combined with the elusiveness on his skates helps him keep possessions alive. And it also enables him to drive play from the defensive zone through the neutral zone and into the opposing team’s area, as he is great in transition.

Weaknesses

The big area of concern for Amirov is his production in the KHL this season. He played 22 games but only tallied two assists. Although only 18 years old, his offensive play across those games was not all that encouraging. However, he did light up the MHL and despite the lack of offensive production, he was still put out there for 21 games, meaning it is possible the coaches still liked what he brought in other areas of the ice. 

Specific areas that Amirov may need a bit of work on is his strength. He only weighed 168-pounds a year or so ago but is now listed at 177 in the most recent NHL Prospect Rankings, which is interesting. However, watching him play you can tell he is a bit susceptible to be knocking off the puck if his elusiveness and skating do not bail him out. 

Projection

Amirov projects as a middle of the lineup forward who can play in all circumstances. His strong defensive presence will allow him to contribute on the penalty kill, and he also has a developing offensive game and the tools to serve on a second power play unit. His defensive game is pretty developed, which is tremendous for someone his age, but the growth of his offensive game is what will determine his real potential. 

More time in the KHL should help him grow offensively. Everyone knows these skills are there as is evident by his excellent production in the MHL.

There is some risk drafting Amirov, specifically in his offensive game. Even with that being said expect him to be a mid-first round pick. Specifically, between picks 14 and 19. 

Fit With the Devils

The Devils most likely will have a shot at Amirov with the team’s last first-rounder. He should definitely be considered in that spot, as he checks off several boxes the Devils are looking for.

He is a two-way forward that can play in all circumstances. And he is also listed as a winger, a place on the Devils depth chart that needs work. His superb speed matches the type of hockey the Devils want to play as well.

The middle of the first-round, specifically near where the Devils third pick should be, gets interesting in terms of who’s the best player available, as there seems to be no real consensus on how players in this area of the draft are ranked. However, as mentioned, Amirov fits the type of player the Devils should be after. Thus, making him a great prospective pick at the 17th selection.

Ranking of Evaluated Prospects

1. Alexis Lafrenière (no profile will be released)

2. Tim Stützle (05/07/2020)

3. Marco Rossi (04/30/2020)

4. Quinton Byfield (05/08/2020)

5. Jamie Drysdale (05/01/2020)

6. Lucas Raymond (04/28/2020)

7. Cole Perfetti (05/05/2020)

8. Alexander Holtz (04/29/2020)

9. Anton Lundell (05/11/2020)

10. Jake Sanderson (05/04/2020)

11. Yaroslav Askarov (05/05/2020)

12. Jack Quinn (05/09/2020) 

13. Rodion Amirov (Today)

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