The Devils Draft Prospect Series continues with a third post today (I know, I can’t believe it either); the first two posts were on Mikhail Maltsev and Evan Cormier so check those out and after you have, take a look through the “Draft Prospect Series” for the rest of them.
The New Jersey Devils selected defenseman Yegor Rykov 132nd overall in the fifth round of the 2016 NHL Entry-Level Draft. The 20-year old Russian blue liner is 6′ 2″ and 216 pounds. He’s played in the Russian developmental program and system his entire hockey career and is slated to play another season with SKA St. Petersburg (KHL) this fall, with whom he signed a contract extension back in October.
Here are some of his stats:
Rykov has played well for a defenseman for SKA St. Petersburg and he’s young. That team is, for lack of a better term, stacked. They won the Gagarin Cup this past season; Rykov played 15 games but didn’t register a single point. He had nine points in 47 regular season games.
He’s also represented Russia on an international level several times, including three separate World Juniors tournaments. He had an excellent 2017 World Juniors tournament, picking up seven points in as many games. Team Russia ultimately fell to Team USA in the semifinal round in a shootout but they won the Bronze Medal game.
Here are DobberProspects’ observations:
“April 2017 – Rykov’s SKA St. Petersburg club earned the KHL title besting Metallurg Magnitogorsk in the Gagarin Cup Finals four games to one. Playing for a deep team the young, large defenseman capped off his zero-goal, nine-assist, 49-game regular season with 15 postseason games in which he saw little ice time but gained more valuable championship experience. With his KHL contract expired Rykov may decide to play in North America next year, perhaps with re-tooling New Jersey. Kevin Wickersham
December 2016 – As an alternate captain for Russia’s 2017 U20 WJC team, and captain at the 2015 U18 World Championship, Rykov has garnered a respectable amount of international hockey leadership experience at just 19 years of age. At 6-2, 216 pounds, Rykov profiles as a solid and cerebral two-way defenseman with a large frame that handles the puck well, who has improving defensive skills. He is adept at causing opponent turnovers, and while his positioning on the ice might benefit from some refining, he displays grit and heart by aggressively slowing down opponents any way he can. As his contract with the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg expires by May of next year, it will be interesting to see if he decides to play in North America and where he might land in the Devils’ system, one that has a budding list of talented young defensemen. Still growing, and possessing a hard left-handed shot in addition to impressive skating and passing skills that generate scoring opportunities, he may meet with swift success. – Kevin Wickersham”
Rykov is a promising, talented young defenseman and he has a bright professional career ahead of him, whether he chooses to remain in Russia with the KHL or switch over to the NHL and the North American system. He still has areas that need improvement but he’s a good leader on and off the ice. I don’t care about his point production as much as I do about his defensive capabilities; he can play defense and that’s all that matters to me. Hopefully he gets to participate in both development and training camp.