Photo Credit: SKA St. Petersburg
Nikita Chibrikov is a 2021 NHL Draft eligible prospect. Chibrikov hails from Moscow, Russia and plays in the SKA St. Petersburg system. Previously, Chibrikov played youth hockey for both CSKA Moscow and Dynamo Moscow. Prior to the 2020-2021 season, Chibrikov was dealt alongside Daniil Lazutin (2021 NHL Draft eligible) and Pavel Mintyukov (2022 NHL Draft eligible) in exchange for Dmitry Kagarlitsky.
The SKA St. Petersburg farm system is one of the best in Russia. Their system consists of many NHL prospects including Marat Khusnutdinov (Minnesota Wild), Vasily Podkolzin (Vancouver Canucks), Maxim Groshev (Tampa Bay Lightning), Kirill Marchenko (Columbus Blue Jackets), Yaroslav Askarov (Nashville Predators), Alexander Gordin (Montréal Canadiens), Ivan Morozov (Vegas Golden Knights) and Yegor Spiridonov (San Jose Sharks). In addition, they have quite a few 2021 NHL Draft prospects such as Lazutin, Kirill Kirsanov, Kirill Gerasimyuk, Vladimir Sychyov and Dmitri Buchelnikov. Plus, 2023 NHL Draft eligible prospect Matvei Michkov is part of their system and will rival Connor Bedard, Adam Fantilli and Brayden Yager for the first overall pick in 2023. With all of that being said, it is safe to say that Chibrikov is in great hands from a development standpoint.
Chibrikov has spent most of this season in the VHL and KHL, but most recently played at the MHL level with SKA-1946 St. Petersburg and appeared in five playoff games for them.
He was also named to the Russian U18 preliminary roster for the 2021 IIHF World U18 Championship in Frisco, Texas. As I mentioned in the below tweet, the Russian forward group is very explosive. Lot of talent. If Chibrikov makes the final cut, he will likely play top six minutes for Russia at the tournament.
D.O.B – February 16, 2003
Nationality – Russia
Draft Eligibility – 2021
Weight –161 lbs
Position – Right Wing
Handedness – Left
Chibrikov’s Style Of Play
Right off the bat, if you loved Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Rodion Amirov in his draft year (2020), there is a strong chance that you will fall head over heels for Chibrikov. In EliteProspects initial draft rankings for the 2021 NHL Draft, their Editor In Chief, J.D. Burke said “I spoke to one scout who likened Chibrikov’s game to that of Rodion Amirov. It’s a pretty apt comparison, too. Chibrikov is a highly-skilled playmaking winger with a drive for the centre-lane and sound defensive details.”
If you want to take a look at just how dominant Chibrikov from a numbers perspective, we have some data for you to check out. Dylan Griffing of DobberProspects, who does extensive Russian hockey scouting, tracks players across the KHL, VHL and MHL. In the two charts below, you will see how Chibrikov stacks up against other 2021 NHL Draft eligibles from Russia. The first chart shows DSATA/60 (Dangerous Shot Attempts Against Player’s Team per 60) and DSAT/60 (Dangerous Shot Attempts For Player’s Team per 60). The second chart looks at Corsi and compares Corsi Against/60 versus Corsi For/60.
Give Dylan a follow on Twitter and you won’t regret it. Lot of good work and he can be quite humorous too.
Chibrikov loves to drive to net-front. He will consistently look to drive to net-front with or without the puck. It doesn’t matter if it’s mid-cycle or off the rush, Chibrikov skates hard to the net. When it comes to getting to the net, Chibrikov has shown at all three Russian hockey levels (KHL, VHL and MHL) that he is more than capable of pushing off attackers, standing his ground and driving to the net without possession of the puck. When doing so, he keeps his stick blade facing parallel to the puck carrier incase the puck carrier passes to him as he charging the net.
While Chibrikov thrives at the pushing attackers when he doesn’t have possession of the puck there are instances especially when facing defenders on the rush, in which he struggles to exert his strength and maneuver the puck around the defender. But, he also struggles to get around attackers when he is playing the puck along the boards. He has difficulty stick-handling and pivoting out of danger.
Chibrikov’s forechecking ability is where he really shines in the offensive zone. When he is in the defensive zone and looks to put pressure on the puck carrier in the other defensive zone, he will quickly get in gear. He will complete two lengthy extensions in the defensive zone. Then in the neutral zone, he will shorten up his skate extensions as he generated quite a bit of acceleration off the first two extensions in the defensive zone. Once he gets to the blue-line, he will once again go into power stride mode to catch up to the defender who has the puck. When Chibrikov is in the offensive zone on the forecheck, he uses his lengthy skate extensions to muster up the appropriate speed to chase after the puck carrier and implements strong pressure once he has arrived at the carrier.
From a passing perspective, Chibrikov has sequences where he doesn’t take the time to identify a passing lane and randomly makes ill-advised passes. He will complete a no look random pass from one half-wall to the other half-wall without identifying a target. Chibrikov will complete no look passes behind his back and the puck will end up on the opposition’s stick blade. While he does struggle with his decision making, there are sequences where he utilizes good puck manipulation skills to draw attackers to him, thus creating open space for his teammates and will then feather a pass to the teammate. Even if the teammate draws in one attacker, it will still take a couple of seconds for the defender to shift off of Chibrikov. If that teammate can generate quick speed right off the bat, Chibrikov’s pass could lead to scoring chances down low. But, not only will he draw attackers in when looking to complete a pass, he will also find targets down low at the doorstep from the blue-line and deliver soft swift passes to get the puck into high danger.
When getting in position to take a shot, Chibrikov more often than not will look to stay close to his teammate who is in possession of the puck especially in high danger situations. Chibrikov gives his teammate the ability to deliver a quick short pass and strike on a dime as soon as he receives the pass. His placement down low in high danger when waiting for a pass has led to quite a few one-timer goals. Chibrikov has a smooth delivery on his shot. He will keep the stick blade open and generate height to get the puck top shelf.
When most junior hockey analysts, draft analysts and scouts talk about a 2021 NHL Draft eligible Russian prospect that is well-versed defensively, they often are drooling over Fyodor Svechkov and rightfully so. Svechkov is dynamic in his own zone. But, don’t forget that Chibrikov is strong in the defensive zone as well.
Chibrikov loves playing tight man-on-man defense and will start to exert dominance in the neutral zone. He will track his attacker’s movements before the blue-line and will implement a power stride as soon as he spots the attacker starting to move the puck over the line. Chibrikov will follow him, stay close and look to push into the attacker to try to drive the puck carrier off course. This allows Chibrikov to have a quick jump on the puck if and when the puck carrier chooses to pass the puck in an attempt to get the puck away from Chibrikov.
He will also dart up from the defensive zone to the neutral zone in instances where his opponent is looking to complete a controlled zone entry. Chibrikov gets quality acceleration off of his first two skate extensions to acquire the appropriate speed to shut down an opportunity for the attacker to rush into the zone. Instead, the attacker has no choice but to dump the puck when Chibrikov gets in his face.
As you can see, Chibrikov is quite quick on his feet when it comes to defensive decision making. He will quickly jump in front of an attacker when he sees that the attacker is about to accept a one-timer pass. By jumping in front of the attacker, he is able to change direction of the one-timer shot by deflecting the shot.
Generally, Chibrikov possesses strong defensive positioning and will often line up at the perimeter. Sometimes, he will look to implement some physicality and grit especially along the boards, but he doesn’t have the necessary strength and timing to follow through on his checks. So, he prefers to lift his stick and poke check at open ice.
We will touch on Chibrikov’s physicality and grit later on.
From a transitional perspective, Chibrikov tends to skate up the middle of the ice surface, but sometimes will deviate to the boards when completing a controlled zone entry. After crossing into the offensive zone, he might widen his stance especially when facing a 2 on 1 as it makes his attackers perceive that he is slowing down. But, at the drop of a hat, he will flip a pass to a teammate, drawing one defender to the winger and one on him. That allows Chibrikov to create more open ice for himself and his teammate.
While there are plenty of sequences where Chibrikov will carry the puck from zone to zone or collect the puck in the neutral zone and drive it into the offensive zone himself, there are instances in which he will look to pass instead. You can expect him to utilize the boards and pass the puck off of the boards to a teammate when Chibrikov has a man on him.
In addition, given Chibrikov’s passing range, he will often look to deploy a stretch pass zone exit in transition.
When it comes to Chibrikov’s physicality, it’s there. Trust me it’s there. I see the grit. He can get under your skin. Given his compete level, he’s puck hungry and will push players for the puck. Often times especially at the KHL level, his opponents get annoyed by Chibrikov’s aggressiveness. He needs to continue to use that. When he gets to the NHL level, that will be extremely useful. If you don’t believe me, watch Brady Tkachuk, Matthew Tkachuk and/or Brad Marchand.
But, when it comes to following through on a check, that is where Chibrikov runs into the some issues. Like his struggles when maneuvering pucks around defenders on the rush, it’s evident that his upper body strength needs a spurt. When going in for a check, there are instances where he isn’t forceful enough, he falls or he mistimes the check completely. If Chibrikov wants to be Brad Marchand at the NHL level, his physical game will need to take shape.
I raved earlier about Chibrikov’s ability to accelerate, but I’m not quite done yet. His two leg extensions when gaining momentum and acceleration are well-timed. They are quick and well placed. As mentioned above, if he looks to generate top speed, he will thin up his extensions in the neutral zone and then go back into a power stride once he crosses the blue-line into the offensive zone. It’s all about strategical speed for Chibrikov and he’s mastered it.
When it comes to his edges and crossovers, he is general quite strong. He has good use of inside edges and complete a hard stop on a dime. His crossovers are tight and can also be used to generate acceleration as a stepping stone off of a turn. But, sometimes, he will struggle with outside edge deployment. There are times where his skates are too far apart when utilizing his outside edges. At those moments, he sometimes will play the puck too far out in front of him, which he generally doesn’t do often. But, in those moments, he will lose control of his balance and sometimes instead of recovering, he will fall to the ice. Even though his outside edges aren’t as well-developed as his inside edges are, I’m confident in his ability to get there.
Brad Marchand, Left Wing, Boston Bruins
While Brad Marchand’s production might a little high when it comes to comparing him to Chibrikov, the transitional play and the grittiness of Chibrikov truly remind me of Marchand. Marchand loves to push forwards in the center of the zone to give his teammates options in high and medium danger.
Top Six NHL Winger
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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