Photo Credit: SKA.ru
Scouting Report written by Josh Tessler
Kirill Kirsanov is a 2021 NHL Draft eligible prospect, who hails from Tver, Russia. He is from the same town that former New Jersey Devils and Atlanta Thrashers forward Ilya Kovalchuk and Nashville Predators prospect Yegor Afanasyev are from. Tver is roughly an hour drive northwest of Moscow, Russia.
Kirsanov is one of the oldest 2021 NHL Draft eligible prospects as he was born four days after the 2020 NHL Draft cut-off date.
In his youth hockey days, Kirsanov played for Tverskiye Tigry Tver and ended up joining the Vityaz Podolsk organization in 2017. He played U16, U17 and U18 hockey for Vityaz Podolsk before being dealt to SKA St. Petersburg alongside Minnesota Wild prospect Marat Khusnutdinov.
This past season was Kirsanov’s second season in the SKA St. Petersburg organization. He split his time between the MHL, VHL and KHL. For those unfamiliar with Russian hockey, MHL is juniors, VHL is minors and KHL is the highest professional level. He spent the majority of his time at the KHL level. In 29 games played in the KHL, Kirsanov tallied three assists. During his VHL stint, he played in four games and recorded two points (one goal and one assists). In his eight games in the MHL, he tallied four assists.
In May of 2021, Kirsanov signed a contract extension with SKA St. Petersburg that will keep him with the organization through the 2022-2023 season.
In addition to his league play, Kirsanov was part of the Russian 2021 World Juniors roster. He had played in seven games at the World Juniors in Edmonton, Alberta and recorded two points (one goal and one assist).
D.O.B – September 19, 2002
Nationality – Russia
Draft Eligibility – 2021
Weight –198 lbs
Position – Defense
Handedness – Left
Kirsanov’s Style Of Play
Kirsanov isn’t a point producer, but he is still rather effective in the offensive zone. For instance, he likes to pinch up after netting possession in the neutral zone, completing a controlled zone entry, driving up the boards and attempting a low danger shot. While his shot isn’t a booming one and not too flashy, his goal is to get pucks on net and hope that one of his forwards down low can grab a hold of the rebound. But, he did find the back of the net three times during his 2020-2021 campaign. Two of his goals came on the power play and the other while playing 5v5 hockey. He favored his snap shot with solid weight transfer.
While he did have some success with his shot, he also struggled at times as well. Questionable shot selection with no open lane in front of him.
From a passing perspective, Kirsanov only recorded one primary assist all year long. It was a regular tape to tape feed and it was when the MHL season just began. Even though he hasn’t found much playmaking success, I haven’t seen any flaws with his passing. But, you won’t see him attempt that many dangerous passes. That’s just not his game.
The area that Kirsanov really stands out is his ability to keep pucks in the offensive zone and eliminate opportunities to breakout. He will pinch up to play a loose puck down low past the face-off hashmarks at the half-wall. But, he also looks to catch forwards trying to break out off-guard. Looks to catch forwards at the point who have their back turned to the neutral zone by surprise when they are about to collect a breakout pass. Kirsanov drives right to them to shut down the zone exit attempt.
When he’s defending the rush, he tends to be a little laid back until the forward decides to look to pass or shoot and then he closes in and puts quality pressure on the forward.
When the attack drifts into medium danger, Kirsanov will close up on attack and put his stick-blade out in front of them to force rash shot decision making. While does assert pressure in medium danger, I would like to see more pressure on the shot taker from low danger. He tends to give the puck carrier a lot of space in low danger situations. He will bend down and try to generate shot blocks, but does so from slightly further out than he should.
Kirsanov will lend a hand down low in a 1-on-1 puck battle behind his own net. At net-front, he will push into attackers (without the puck) who look to grab space in high danger. In the corners, he will fight hard in puck battles for the puck.
While he has shown success in the corners, Kirsanov needs to be cautious about jumping into a loose puck battle with another teammate. He needs to pick his battles so to speak. When he jumps into a battle with another teammate, he is drawn out of position and that can key up scoring chances for the other team should the attacker managed to play the puck along the boards to his teammate down low.
He will shift over to a centered defensive role in the slot when puck battles are on the other side of the boards. You will also see him go into the corner on the right side to put pressure on a puck carrier when his defensive partner has jumped up along the half-wall and isn’t in position to drop back to the corner.
You will see Kirsanov struggle at defending 2-on-1 situations. He will prone on 2-on-1s. Kirsanov needs to be more centered, widen his stance and ultimately take up more room. But, proning won’t pay dividends if the attacker sees it coming and stick-handles around him.
I’d like to see puck security improve when in the defensive zone. Sometimes when he drops back to re-group before a breakout attempt, Kirsanov will cough up possession down low at net-front to his opponent when he extends his reach. He will also face the same challenge when extending his stick out with the puck when facing pressure along the boards. Once the attacker puts pressure on him, Kirsanov struggles to hold onto the puck.
From a breakout passing perspective, he generally prefers to complete lateral passes to his defensive partner. He will complete a lateral pass in the face-off circle to his defensive partner in the other face-off circle. Afterwards, you will see his defensive partner try a stretch pass or carry the puck into the neutral zone. If he collects the pass off the face-off and the forecheck draws in, he will look to complete a backhand pass along the boards behind the net to his defensive partner. Kirsanov will also rattle the puck around the boards to a winger at the blue-line to try to force a zone exit when down low.
The only type of pass that I’d love to see more refinement is on his stretch passes. He puts a little too much power behind a stretch pass and the intended target will fail at capturing possession of the puck.
Kirsanov look to use quite a bit of crossovers when going zone to zone with the puck to accelerate. He relies mostly on crossovers when in transition and controlling the puck himself from zone to zone. There aren’t a lot of skate extensions involved when cutting through the neutral zone. In addition, he does an excellent job of utilizing lateral crossovers. He will deploy good lateral crossovers in the neutral zone to pull attackers towards him and open up ice for his defensive partner. That allows Kirsanov to pass to his defensive partner without much pressure on his partner. He also likes to complete lateral crossovers when he is vacating the defensive zone and skating into the neutral zone on the rush. That allows him to garner much needed acceleration.
While there are attributes to like about his crossovers, there is still improvement that is needed. From time to time, Kirsanov can be inconsistent on lateral crossover length, which makes him a tad slower at times, especially when behind his own net and an attacker is in front of his goaltender. When shifting out from behind the net, he was a bit slow and that had all to do with his crossover placement.
From a forward skate extension perspective, his skate extensions are well synchronized when going from zone to zone. His ankle flexion is solid. Kneecaps above the toes of his skates. He has a lengthy extension and that allows him to drop back to the defensive at a quick rate to pick up loose pucks or stay aligned with the attacker.
His edges are quite sound. Kirsanov has a good tight turn radius and can power his turns with equal success no matter if he’s using inside or outside edges.
Similar to his struggles in the defensive zone, when defending against a 2-on-1 in the neutral zone, he needs to be more centered between the two attackers in case of puck movement.
Usually when he is defending in the neutral zone, he plays further out, but does look to close in on F1 when they get to the defensive blue-line.
If he sees a loose puck in the neutral zone, he will do his best to be the first one on the puck and recover possession. He doesn’t carry the puck into the offensive zone too much, so he will look to complete a cross-ice diagonal feed to the winger closer to the offensive blue-line once he’s gained possession and completes a tight turn.
When he doesn’t have the clear advantage in speed, he will dart out of the offensive zone and stay stride for stride with the opponent to cut him off when they reach the puck.
Kirsanov will drop back with the puck to the defensive blue-line to control the tempo. Sometimes that allows SKA to catch their opponents off guard and force a line change. Even if its one attacker coming off the ice that can allow SKA to key up a 5-on-4 situation for a brief window until the replacement can catch up.
He is not an elusive stick-handler when skating through the neutral zone and need to work on puck security more. Kirsanov will control the puck with the toe of his stick-blade and thus will cause turnovers. With that being said, he prefers to pass the puck instead of carrying the puck into the offensive zone. Instead, he will complete clean tape-to-tape zone exit passes to key up the rush.
Second Pairing Defenseman (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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