Photo Credit – CSKA Moscow/@HCCSKA
Prokhor Poltapov is a 2021 NHL Draft eligible prospect playing the CSKA Moskva farm system. He hails from St. Petersburg, Russia and played youth hockey for Serebryanye Lvy St. Petersburg and Dynamo Moskva. Last season, he made the short trek across Leningradsky Avenue and joined the CSKA Moskva organization. Poltapov split his time between CSKA’s U17/U18 teams and their MHL club, Krasnaya Armiya Moskva.
This season, Poltapov has appeared in 46 games for Krasnaya Armiya Moskva and has recorded 20 goals and 16 points. At the moment, Poltapov is in the top 20 for points in the MHL, but is not the leading 2021 NHL Draft eligible prospect in points. Fellow 2021 NHL Draft eligible prospect Alexander Kisakov of MHK Dynamo Moskva leads the league in points with 58. While there is a sizable point differential, it is worth noting that Poltapov is in top 10 for goals scored with 20.
D.O.B – February 1, 2003
Nationality – Russia
Draft Eligibility – 2021
Weight –161 lbs
Position – Center/Right Wing
Handedness – Left
Poltapov’s Style Of Play
Poltapov is a power forward prospect with explosive speed and has a knack for finding open lanes in the slot, which makes him a handful when Poltapov and a teammate are on a 2-on-1 rush. Poltapov excels at driving hard to the net. He lives for causing chaos in the slot.
Not only does Poltapov find open lanes and gaps consistently, but he has underrated hands and has solid reach when stick-handling. He also uses his ability in finding gaps to find tight lanes that can he exploit with quick and crisp threaded passes right through those gaps.
In general, he tends to play more at right wing, but Krasnaya Armiya Moskva has battle-tested him at center. Given his dominant speed and strong defensive awareness, Poltapov was worth a shot at center and hasn’t missed a beat when shifting from wing to center.
When it comes to stick-handling, Poltapov has excellent reach. He can swing the puck far away from an attacker and ensure strong puck security. His upper body strength allows him to maneuver the puck around tough pressure with ease and he uses that same upper body strength to drive past defenders. Check out the first 14 seconds of the below clip to see Poltapov’s stick-handling in action.
Poltapov’s upper body strength on the rush allows him to push the neutralize the pressure by pushing the defender closer and closer to the slot. He can also use his upper body strength and reach to collect passes that went slightly off-target. It’s not a given that Poltapov can collect every off-target pass, but the fact that he can use his reach to grab a hold of a few is interesting to note. It eliminates the amount of loose pucks, interceptions and turnovers that Krasnaya Armiya Moskva has to deal with.
What I really like about Poltapov is his ability to read his opponents and adjust strategy on the fly. If his defensemen have pinched up, he will drop back to the blue-line and cover for them. If a few of his teammates are involved in puck battles along the boards and no one is manning center ice, Poltapov will sit at center ice to try to circumvent a potential pass to an attacker in the slot. In those situations where he is chasing down a loose puck in his own zone, he will have a good read of who is chasing the puck with him. Once he has possession of the puck, he won’t button hook because he would immediately face attackers head on. Instead, he will identify a teammate on the opposite half-wall and play the puck off the boards, so that his teammate can grab possession on the other side.
While I do like Poltapov’s ability to shift gears on a dime, there are some question marks with his play. Poltapov has a tendency to complete a drop pass without truly assessing the situation. There are times where he will pin-point the teammate that he wants to pass to, but does not keep an eye on an attacker bursting into the zone. The attacker will jump into Poltapov’s own zone and intercept the puck. Poltapov needs to take the time to scan more than just his teammate in order to eliminate costly turnovers.
In addition, on a dump and chase, he typically will not go hunting in the trenches and corners for the puck. Instead, he will opt to sit at the blue-line with his defensemen to create a three man wall. Poltapov should be looking grab some open ice closer up to the net and giving his teammates an option in the slot should they grab possession off the dump and chase. I also find it interesting that Poltapov will flip on the jets to chase a loose puck, but is less eager to forecheck on a dump and chase. But, with that being said, it isn’t odd to see Poltapov struggle on the forecheck. When he does go out on the forecheck, he is often too late and the attacker who he is charging after has already passed the puck to a fellow teammate. With Poltapov’s ability to turn on the motor, he should be working on acceleration when going on the forecheck. Without ironing out his acceleration on the forecheck, he will struggle at the NHL level.
Poltapov does struggle at times with his attackers forechecking/back-checking and putting pressure on him while he is along the boards. Instead of pivoting out of pressure, he freezes and can’t identify a way to get around traffic and keep the play alive.
From a skating perspective, he does struggle with quick pivots, but he displays quality edges and crossovers. He can accelerate quickly to dart after loose pucks. His extensions allow him to power up quickly with two-to-three power skating lengthy extensions, but sometimes he has difficulty with over extending his leg and will fall from time-to-time.
Lastly, Poltapov has shown that he can elevate shots from up close. But, what I really like about his shot is that he can be deceptive with his movements leading up to the shot. For example, at the doorstep, he will skate from left to right and then fire a backhand shot five hole. Poltapov can draw net-minders in and then pick the most ideal moment to strike. It’s sleek and well-timed. It’s natural for Poltapov.
Blake Coleman, Center, Tampa Bay Lightning
Poltapov is around the same size as Coleman and plays a very similar game. Both players are power forwards who have explosive acceleration when chasing after loose pucks. Coleman and Poltapov also have excellent reach and stick-handling, so they can evade attackers with ease.
Top Nine Winger (NHL).
stats from InStat and EliteProspects
Prospect report written by Josh Tessler. If you would like to follow Josh on Twitter, his handle is @JoshTessler_.
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