With the 106th overall selection in the 2020 NHL Draft, the Toronto Maple Leafs have selected Russian goaltender Artur Akhtyamov of Bars Kazan (KHL/MHL/VHL).

There is very little scouting information available on the 6’2, 170-pound goaltender, who was not included among the 10 European goaltenders ranked by NHL Central Scouting.

In picking the Kazan native this high — in the fourth round, when he was more on the radar as a potential sixth or seventh-rounder — the Leafs are no doubt leaning heavily on the evaluations of Ari Vuori, director of European scouting, Director of Player Evaluation Jim Paliafito, as well as Russia-area scouts Grigori Shafigulin and Olegs Koreskovs. Akhtyamov is yet another client of Dan Milstein and Gold Star to join the Leafs:

Akhtyamov is the first goaltender drafted by the Leafs since Zach Bouthillier out of the QMJHL in the seventh round of the 2018 draft.

Akhtyamov has established himself as a consistently high-end starter in the MHL, where he has made 54 starts and posted a .921 save percentage in 2018-19 and then improved on the mark with a .931 save percentage in 46 starts in 2019-20. He’s posted a .957 save percentage in four VHL starts this season and a .926 in three MHL starts — the statistics are really strong at the feeder/junior levels in Russia.

The Leafs have now drafted four consecutive prospects out of Europe, two from SM-Liiga and two from the KHL/VHL/MHL. Whether concern about a possible developmental deficit among those in North America that are unable to play competitive games due to the pandemic is factoring in here, or if it’s just the way the team’s draft board has fallen, is an interesting question. GM Kyle Dubas mostly downplayed it as a contributing factor when he spoke to the media following the selection of Rodion Amirov in the first round of the draft.

Director of Amateur Scouting John Lilley on Artur Akhtyamov

We did a lot of work on him with all of our goalie guys. He is a little bit older, but we felt he had potential. He had a good save percentage and a good season last year in the MHL over in Russia. He is a goalie, so it is going to take time, but we thought he was worthy of the pick where we selected him.

Artur Akhtyamov Scouting Report

courtesy of The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler

Though my evaluations of goaltenders rely more heavily on numbers and sample size than on my own evaluations of their style, Akhtyamov moves well in the net, he does a good job controlling his rebounds, positionally sound but aggressive when he needs to be. He’s not the most explosive or athletic goalie in the world but he’s quick and he gets to some tough shots. There’s no reason when teams are considering taking their yearly goalie in the sixth or seventh round that he shouldn’t be in the conversation.

Artur Akhtyamov Video

Artur Akhtyamov Statistics

2016-17Ak Bars Kazan U16Russia U16---|-
2017-18Ak Bars Kazan U18Russia U18---|-
2018-19Ak Bars Kazan U18Russia U180--|Playoffs34.29-
Bars KazanVHL0--|-
Irbis KazanMHL542.30.921
2019-20Ak Bars KazanKHL0--|-
Irbis KazanMHL461.80.931
2020-21Ak Bars KazanKHL0--|-
Bars KazanVHL40.98.957
Irbis KazanMHL31.67.926