With the 137th overall selection in the 2020 NHL Draft, the Toronto Maple Leafs have selected 5’11, 183-pound left-shot forward Dmitriy Ovchinnikov of Sibir Novosibirsk (KHL / MHL).

On the draft floor, the Leafs moved up to draft Ovchinnikov by reacquiring their own 137th overall pick from the Florida Panthers (originally traded for Michael Hutchinson back in December) in exchange for the 153rd overall selection (acquired from Vegas in the Garret Sparks deal) and the 212th overall selection (acquired from St. Louis at the 2019 draft in exchange for the Leafs‘ 2019 seventh-round pick).

One of the youngest members of the 2020 draft class with a late August 2002 birthdate, Ovchinnikov has already earned his way into five KHL games with Sibir (two appearances last season, three so far in 2020-21). He’s torn up the Russian junior level offensively with 24 goals and 55 points in 54 games in 2019-20 and a further seven points (three goals, four assists) in seven MHL games in 2020-21.

Unsurprising given the Kyle Dubas draft M.O., hockey sense and skill are clear assets of Ovchinnikov’s game, but he is described as having work to do on his skating mechanics and physical maturity.

Ovchinnikov’s available pre-draft rankings:

  • Ranked 117th by
  • Ranked 172nd by Future Considerations
  • Ranked 160th by McKeen’s Hockey

Ovchinnikov is the third 2020 Leafs draft selection out of the KHL/VHL/MHL after forward Rodion Amirov at 15th overall and goaltender Artur Akhtyamov at 106th overall, and the fifth (in their first six picks) out of Europe.

Director of Amateur Scouting John Lilley on Dmitriy Ovchinnikov

I wouldn’t say we had a late jump on him, but we saw him maybe a quarter of the way through the year. We didn’t have as much intel on him in the last few years like we do with a lot of these guys. He is playing in the KHL right now and split between that and the MHL. Really good speed. Good offensive instincts. He is someone who we just valued his offensive abilities.

Dmitriy Ovchinnikov Scouting Report

courtesy of the 2020 Blackbook (buy now)

Better than a point-per-game at the Russian junior level with 55 points in 54 games, Dmitri Ovchinnikov caught our attention as the year has pressed on. He even got a couple of cracks at the KHL despite being very young for this draft class.

Dmitri is a talented, multi-faceted forward who can beat opposing defenses in a number of ways. He improved as the season went on and looked more comfortable attacking as a primary scoring threat for his team. We thought he stood out more when placed at center; he had more success when given the middle of the ice to operate through the neutral zone.

He can shoot the puck well due to a plus level of coordination that features a fast and consistent release point. Additionally, he was capable of masking his release point before firing it faster than goaltenders could get set, resulting in his goal production and rebound generation. His ability to generate rebounds of his release by surprising goalies who were yet to set was thanks to his ability to turn rapidly into his shot. Perhaps most importantly, he can shoot the puck in motion while going at his top speed and can threaten with both his backhand and wrist-shot.

Ovchinnikov is not just a shot, though. His playmaking ability is good and he’s capable of looking off his intended passing targets at a consistent rate. The way he handles the puck is slightly behind his playmaking and shooting ability, but it didn’t stop him from making some highlight-reel plays where he used his deking to go through multiple players when we scouted him.

Ovchinnikov’s skill level wouldn’t mean much if he didn’t have a good mind for the game, but he does. His most impressive mental attribute is how he identifies soft ice. He can recognize when a defenseman has failed to track him, and he puts himself in high danger positions as a passing option regularly. Dmitri takes full advantage of the ice that’s given to him when transitioning the puck through the neutral zone. He also had a knack for peeling off pressure along the boards and skating aggressively into the middle portion of the ice. This drew opposing players into him, giving him the opportunity to use his deception, creativity, and offensive instincts to his advantage. His offense gave his teammates additional space as the result of his willingness to attack the high-danger areas.

He also had the playmaking to take advantage of it. The above characteristics of his hockey sense allowed him to generate a ton of high danger shots for himself as well. There’s an offensive maturity to his game that doesn’t have him rush his shooting options, while recognizing when he’s in a position that can generate a threatening scoring chance. For these reasons, by the end of the year, he was one of the more dangerous forwards in the MHL.

Although he’s willing to enter high-danger areas and play along the boards, there are some concerning issues with him translating on North American ice. How he’s able to make it work with his size disadvantage is going to be a factor – he looks smaller than his listed size. One critical area we evaluate with a smaller forward is how good their skating mechanics are relative to their size. In Ovchinnikov’s case, this is the biggest red flag when determining if he can translate to the NHL.

His first step or two can be sloppy, failing to feature proper flexion through his hip, knee, and ankle. There’s a lack of hip rotation; his hips look locked in during some rush attempts. He’s inconsistent at stepping outside of his center of gravity, keeping a base that’s too narrow when moving in a straight line. He also lacks a proper heel-to-toe motion when attempting to get moving; he can’t kick properly using the first third of his blade. This reduces his traction and prevents him from generating as much power as he could with cleaner mechanics. Furthermore, his straight-line extension is short. It did improve as the season progressed, but it’s not where we’d like it to be. In open space, he looks more threatening on some plays since he does have enough power to compensate for some of the above mechanics.

The good area of his skating is featured through the fluidity of his crossovers. He can generate power using his inside edges and crossovers, and it does help him separate at times in MHL play. Overall, he was one of the more inconsistent skaters: looking dangerous through the neutral zone on one shift, followed by a loose puck chase that would leave you thinking there’s a real issue with how his skating can translate on the next. The problem is that he relies on his power too often since he must compensate for aspects of his straight-line mechanics.

Sometimes it feels like he’s a little off-rhythm between his feet and his hands and his head. We like his pace and his willingness to go to the tougher areas, though. Against more structured defensive teams, he had a tough time standing out. Part of this was the result of him being unable to overpower larger players. There’s a physical immaturity to him and this extended to his defensive coverage as well.

Maybe it’s him experimenting, but too often he was an individual. He can’t rely on his puck handling and skating against men nearly to the same degree as he did in junior. His game requires a big transformational shift in terms of how often he’s willing to find his teammates. He relied too much on his one-on-one ability even though we’ve seen him use some impressive playmaking ability. If he can learn to develop into a more complementary winger — relying on his positioning, spatial awareness, and anticipation — then he’ll have a much better chance to threaten at the pro level.

Ovchinnikov has both the skill and hockey sense to make you notice him. Unfortunately, it’s probably going to be an uphill battle due to his skating. He’s not a player who we see fitting into the bottom of a lineup. He doesn’t have the physical base or instincts, or the north-south speed to play effectively enough off the puck if his skill level doesn’t translate into a scoring role. In some ways he reminds of Dmytro Timashov, in the sense that his skating and size haven’t allowed him to stick in the NHL regardless of his skill. What’s more damning is that Dymtro was a thicker framed player at the same age and showed a level of dynamic skill that Ovchinnikov doesn’t flash as often as Timashov did. For these reasons, he came up short of making our list. He will be a solid pro player, but we think it is most likely a stretch to see him blossom as an NHL regular.

Dmitriy Ovchinnikov Video

2016-17Sibir Novosibirsk U15Russia U16-----|-
2017-18Sibir Novosibirsk U16Russia U16-----|-
2018-19Sibir Novosibirsk U17Russia U1810710172|-
Sibirskie Snaipery NovosibirskMHL4025710-4|-
Russia U17 (all)International-Jr83364|-
2019-20Sibir Novosibirsk U18Russia U1832020|-
Sibir NovosibirskKHL200000|-
Sibirskie Snaipery NovosibirskMHL54243155819|Playoffs10000-1
Russia U18 (all)International-Jr22130|-
2020-21Sibir NovosibirskKHL300001|-
Sibirskie Snaipery NovosibirskMHL63470-1|-