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:
— Dan Milstein-Hockey (@HockeyAgent1) October 7, 2020
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.
Artur Akhtyamov is a perfect example of how teams don’t have either of this. A Russian goalie who is killing the MHL and looks like a guy with real NHL potential, but nobody has been talking about him. European players don’t get enough press plus nobody understands goalies
— TPEHockey (@TPEHockey) January 30, 2020
Artur Akhtyamov is an interesting pick for Toronto. Mid-sized goaltender looking good in the MHL this year, his third as a starter.
Tons of PIM – he isn't afraid to get testy. Doesn't need to move a lot to stop pucks, but loves using his stick.
— Steven Ellis (@StevenEllisTHN) October 7, 2020
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
|2016-17||Ak Bars Kazan U16||Russia U16||-||-||-|||||-|
|2017-18||Ak Bars Kazan U18||Russia U18||-||-||-|||||-|
|2018-19||Ak Bars Kazan U18||Russia U18||0||-||-|||||Playoffs||3||4.29||-|
|2019-20||Ak Bars Kazan||KHL||0||-||-|||||-|
|2020-21||Ak Bars Kazan||KHL||0||-||-|||||-|