Photo Credit – CSKA Moskva/@HCCSKA
Artyom Grushnikov, a 2021 NHL Draft eligible prospect, is a 17-year-old defenseman currently on the roster for the Hamilton Bulldogs of the OHL. Due to COVID-19 playing the main role in delaying all OHL play this season, Grushnikov has yet to take the ice in the 2020-21 season. Grushnikov was born in Yegoryevsk, Russia, and played the majority of his youth hockey in the Khimik Voskresensk system. Notable players to suit up for the Khimik Voskresensk youth system include Vladislav Namestnikov, Andrei Markov, and Igor Larionov.
For the 2017/18 season, Grushnikov joined up with the CSKA Moskva Under 16’s. Throughout his minor hockey career, Grushnikov has been a stalwart on the back end, and he recorded his best junior season in 2018-19 as a member of the CSKA Moskva U16/U17/U18 teams. In all competitions, he tallied three goals and 11 assists for 14 points in 24 games. Grushnikov also tallied another three goals and eight assists for 11 points in International play for Russia’s U16 and U17 programs.
Last season, Grushnikov played for Krasnaya Armiya Moskva in the MHL, thus beginning his pro career. He dressed in 29 games, where he scored one goal and added four assists for five points.
As mentioned previously, Grushnikov has yet to touch the ice in 2020/21 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but he is slated to begin the season with the Hamilton Bulldogs in the OHL, once they resume play.
D.O.B – March 20th, 2003
Location – Yegoryevsk, Russia
Nationality – Russian
Draft Eligibility – 2021
Height – 6’2”
Weight – 174 lbs.
Position – Defense
Shoots – Left
Grushnikov’s Style Of Play
In watching the game film on Grushnikov, it’s easy to point out that he’s a defensive defenceman who can be relied upon in his own end. While he won’t garner a lot of attention in the offensive zone, there’s not much to worry about when it comes to his play in the defensive zone. For a prospect of Grushnikov’s style to be playing professional hockey overseas and to be counted upon so heavily by his team at such a young age, is a major plus in the eyes of NHL front offices. Perhaps the most underrated part of his game is his ability to lead the rush out of the defensive zone and/or execute a long breakout pass. If an NHL team can find a way to develop his offensive game a little more, they could have quite the two way defensive prospect on their hands.
In watching footage of Grushnikov from seasons past, his skating is impressive. He doesn’t possess great top end speed or acceleration, but his edgework and agility are ridiculously good. He’s able to pivot and change direction exceptionally well, and his backwards skating allows him to be effective in pinching attackers towards the boards and out of the higher danger areas. Grushnikov is also capable of jumping into the rush and leading an attack. It’s yet to be seen of course if he can get the offensive pieces of his game to fully click together, but if he can, it should benefit his all around game immensely.
While Grushnikov won’t necessarily wow you with points on the stat sheet, he does have an adequate amount of offensive skill and awareness. He’s a very good passer of the puck in all three zones of the ice, and can anticipate where teammates will be and deliver a crisp pass up ice. One area of his offensive play where Grushnikov could use some work is his shot. This isn’t to say his shot is bad, however, he has a tendency to shoot it from literally anywhere in the offensive zone. That being said, Grushnikov does have a good looking shot stance, and can get some velocity on slapshots from the point. He can look to become a little more disciplined with his shot taking, which could lead to more offensive output and less blocked shot attempts
Defensive zone play is the bread and butter for Grushnikov, who can bust up passing lanes and force opponents out wide with ease. Rarely will you find Grushnikov out of position, as he’s usually guarding the crease, tying up attackers in front of the net. He’s also an exceptional shot blocker. Grushnikov isn’t afraid to put his body in front of a puck, and he is quite good at getting a stick on a shot to deflect the puck out of play. Another huge positive of Grushnikov’s defensive play is his ability to make smart decisions under pressure. He is able to break up opponent’s chances, recover the puck, and either get the puck to a teammate or carry it to safety with ease. One aspect that isn’t overly mentioned when it comes to Grushnikov’s game is his ability to be quite physical. When needed, he has no problem laying the body or roughing up attacking players, a trait that will sure come in handy at the next level. Teams taking a hard look at Grushnikov will be more than impressed with his prowess in the defensive zone.
There’s not much to improve on the defensive side of things for Grushnikov, however, he can look to improve some aspects of his offensive skillset. As previously mentioned, he can look to be a little more selective with his shot taking, as he tends to have quite a few of his shots from the point blocked. He may look to either toss the puck in the corner, or pick out a teammate with a pass. Aside from a few tweaks in the offensive area of his game, Grushnikov can look to work on adding some mass to his 6’2″, 174lbs frame, which will make him even more of a burden to play against.
In conclusion, Artyom Grushnikov projects to be a solid option for teams looking to add a defensive minded prospect to their system. He excels at shot blocking, decision making in the defensive zone/neutral zone, and can be leaned on defensively at such a young age already, which should impress most, if not all NHL teams. Grushnikov has experience and is more than capable to play in all game scenarios, whether it be even strength, powerplay, or penalty kill. Based off his talents, look for him to be selected somewhere between 36-50th overall in the 2021 NHL Draft.
Vladislav Gavrikov – Defenceman, Columbus Blue Jackets
Watching film on Grushnikov reminded me of a similar player patrolling the blueline for the Columbus Blue Jackets; Vladislav Gavrikov. While the skating comparison may not be fully correct, there are aspects between the two that are similar. For example, both players skate excellent backwards, allowing them to play the shutdown role of defenceman so well. Both also possess good edgework and mobility which allow themselves to keep the play in front of them and protect alot of the defensive zone. As Gavrikov is a newcomer to the NHL as of 2019-20, look for both players to succeed in the role of a second-pair defenceman.
stats from InStat and EliteProspects
Prospect report written by Paul Zuk. If you would like to follow Paul on Twitter, his handle is @paulzuk_81.
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