With the 157th overall pick in the 2024 NHL Draft, the Maple Leafs have selected 6’4, 179-pound goaltender Timofei Obvintsev of Krasnaya Armiya Moskva (MHL).

With netminding prospects Vyacheslav Peksa and Artur Akhtyamov showing reasonably promising progression since their draft years in 2021 and 2020, respectively, the Leafs have dipped into the well of overage Russian junior league goaltenders again in 2024. Obvintsev is 19 years old (a January 2005 birthdate) and posted strong numbers in what was essentially his rookie season in the MHL in 2023-24 (.921 save percentage).

Late-round drafting is an educated guessing game at best and a crapshoot at worst, and for no other position is the latter truer than with goaltending, which makes picking up a lottery ticket in each draft a reasonable approach to take. Obvintsev is the fourth goaltender picked by the Leafs in the last five drafts after they went without a goalie pick in 2023 (they had just three selections). They currently have homegrown goaltenders in the starting position at the NHL level (Joseph Woll) and the AHL level (Dennis Hildeby), with Akhtyamov set to join the Marlies in the fall. The pipeline shows signs of bearing fruit, but this is a long-term development project requiring much patience.

The 6’4 Obvintsev’s raw athleticism is thought of so highly by scouts that if he can successfully refine his technical approach, he has “arguably the highest ceiling out of any goalie in this class,” per

Timofei Obvintsev Scouting Report

courtesy of the 2024 Blackbook (BUY NOW)

Timofei Obvintsev was in a difficult position while playing for CSKA due to a three-goalie rotation for the majority of the year. This meant that he only played a handful of games by January, but due to a timely injury, he was elevated from a backup role to a starting role by February, allowing him to showcase what we think is one of the more remarkable skill sets of any draft-eligible goalie.

We bring up Timofei’s impressive skill set due to the fact that despite being 19 years of age, this is basically his rookie season in the MHL, having played just six games last year (his first year of eligibility). In addition, he’s a unique goalie who relies heavily on his own instincts and plays a throwback, looser style of game that’s not predicated as much on staying compact and sealed. On the one hand, that means he’s technically raw, but on the other, he makes saves to his own beat and has his own style. As an example, despite being a larger goalie, he has a tendency to make stand-up saves a lot more frequently than most other draft-eligible goalies.

It’s a bit similar to how Georgiev operates between the pipes, where he is really one of the last hybrid goalies who blends in some stand-up. The difference is that Georgiev is 6’0 tall, so having a bit of stand-up in his game makes a lot of sense, whereas for Obvintsev, it’s an aspect that will need to be slightly reined in and refined. With that said, he can get away with the style he plays because he’s one of the freakiest athletes out of any draft-eligible goalies in some ways, specifically when looking at his extension abilities.

We talk a lot about extension rates with goalies, and that’s because they are critical. Obvintsev has elite extensions and is the top goalie in this class when focusing on this quality. Other aspects of his athleticism also shine. He’s excellent at transitioning between save types, had a rapid transitional butterfly, and is fleet of foot when needing to use his skating to either re-integrate or integrate from his post. He’s as fluid — if not more so — than Saarinen, he has better and longer extensions than Yunin, and he’s almost as quick twitch and reflexive as Bilic. There’s a rare blend of qualities when evaluating the overall toolkit.

Like the rest of his game, his post-integration is a bit unconventional as well. He can lose his net a bit more often than Moyseyvich or Zarubin, so to compensate, he looks to use his extension length within his arms to find the posts when he has to rapidly transfer from post to post, depending on the play. Furthermore, when he’s attempting to read which post he needs to integrate with, he uses his arms to actually hold the center of the net, which tells you how long he can stretch out and how dextrous he is since he can come close to touching both posts simultaneously while fully extending his frame. This technique allows him to maintain center when he thinks a low to high-danger passing option from below the goal line is likely to hit a target within the high crease or middle of the slot.

He’s also one of the more aggressive poke-checking goalies when operating on down-low plays around his net area. He has an active stick, and he uses it a lot to either disrupt shot attempts or deflect incoming passes. The more athletic the base, the easier it is for a goalie to extend out and use their length to their advantage, so his style is conducive to his toolkit.

Another way he uses his extensions is to actually push off the post in combination with his edgework to come out through crescent push-offs that realign him with shots off of a sudden pass. Lastly, when he’s in an RVH position, he has a tendency to overcommit on the player nearest to his short side post if they have the puck by completely pivoting and rotating his frame towards them. This theoretically means that he’s more susceptible to sudden lateral passes since he has to complete a full rotation back towards his goal line in order to push across and stop the shot, but he can get away with this technique and projects to continue to get away with it at the NHL level because he’s such a fluid and nimble goalie at his size. Most goalies need to transition in two motions when pivoting back toward their goal line while in an RVH, but Timofei doesn’t, and it really helps explain just how gifted he is.

Speaking of gifted, he has the best projectable blocker in this class. He has full range of motion and can make very dextrous blocker saves that are highlighted by windmill knockdown saves, to saves off of shots that require him to immediately throw his elbow into a position where it’s directed towards the ceiling of the arena. When shots are high danger and in close quarters, he can go from a neutral blocker position into an elevated position at the top of his bar at an incredibly rare speed. He works this in combination with his active shoulders, which allows him to stay elevated. We rarely get this excited about a blocker side or the shoulder activity of a goalie, and the glove side is admittedly more important long-term, but it’s special.

Despite his impressive game, he is susceptible to shooters who can adjust their release by presenting short side before firing it far-side in high-danger areas (and visa-versa). Another issue is that although we have seen him make outstanding glove saves, he will let in a soft goal occasionally, and it’s usually low glove when this occurs. Like most younger goalies, he can have difficulty absorbing pucks into his butterfly at times, and this is usually a result of being too late to set up from his relaxed stance on in-coming shots, depending on the context of the play. This means he can set too late on generic shots, leading to problems that shouldn’t occur. It also means he can be late on some lateral set-up plays. There’s definitely a rawness to him, from a technical perspective, he’s also busier, over-extending out of his net more and is therefore forced to scramble more often than both Moysevich and Zarubin. That said, he’s also more athletically gifted than both as well.

Taken together, we consider Obvintsev to have arguably the highest ceiling out of any goalie in this class. But, he’s a difficult evaluation due to how raw he is. His initial draft season was last year when he basically didn’t play, so we’re working from the thought process that we should treat this season as his first full MHL year. When you look at his year on the whole, he was actually very consistent and had several stand-out performances that flashed his enormous potential. If certain mechanical refinements to him are made, and his anticipation of the play and tracking can hold, he’s a bonafide starter.