Photo Credit: HC Avangard
Timur Mukhanov is a 2023 NHL Draft eligible prospect, who hails from Glazov, Russia and plays in the Avangard Omsk system. His father, Renat Mukhanov played Russian minor and junior hockey in the 1990’s and has recently coached for Vityaz Podolsk’s U16 and U17 teams.
While Mukhanov grew up in Glazov (Siberia), he ended up playing U16 hockey in Moscow for Vityaz Podolsk U16 and then ended up going across the country to Omsk to play in the Avangard Omsk youth system.
This season, Mukhanov spent the majority of his time at the VHL level with Omskie Krylia and played 31 games for them. But, his production was double the rate in MHL play during regular season play. Mukhanov had also played in nine playoff games in the MHL, but the production was not at the same rate as it was during the regular season. He was called up to the KHL level around the holidays in December and January for two brief stints, but didn’t play much. Mukhanov played in one game and in only one shift.
Earlier this month, Avangard Omsk and Severstal Cherepovets made a trade in which Igor Geraskin was traded for Mukhanov and cash considerations. With this trade, Mukhanov is doing another cross-country move as he relocates from Omsk (Siberia) to Cherepovets (north of Yaroslavl and Moscow).
D.O.B – June 17, 2005
Nationality – Russian
Draft Eligibility – 2023
Weight –170 lbs
Position – Center
Handedness – Right
Mukhanov’s Style of Play
Mukhanov is extremely good at distribution when the pressure has intensified. He uses whatever space is given to him. Mukhanov will feather backhand feeds over an opponent’s stick shaft to get the puck away from pressure and to a teammate. He will pass underneath the stick shaft with ease.
Check out this feed from a late January game against Loko-76. Mukhanov finds a tight gap and feathers the pass. It leads to a one touch pass in an effort to get the puck to net-front.
Due to his size, he can be phased out when playing the puck at the corners and along the boards under pressure. He isn’t trying to force the puck more inside when he’s below the red line especially when the attack is right at his backside. The pressure is only going to intensify the more and more than he skates towards the net. Instead of facing the intensified pressure, he’ll push the puck towards the half-wall and pass back to the point.
He’s a good facilitator and loves driving the cycle. Thanks to his crossovers, he has the speed to move around with the puck to switch up his positioning in order to create better passing angles. Sometimes, he doesn’t find a passing lane and has to problem solve. That might mean bringing the puck back into the neutral zone to re-group. In the below clip, you will see Mukhanov re-grouping, passing the puck to a teammate at the blue line and then giving that teammate an option in the offensive zone. Mukhanov does manage to deliver a cross ice feed through an extremely tight lane (at the end of the clip).
Mukhanov does a really good job at generating juicy passing lanes for his puck carrying teammates. He will use his crossovers to shift around to keep passing lanes alive when he draws an attacker who is looking to eliminate Mukhanov as a passing option.
Sometimes, he will stop himself and leave a sizable gap between himself and the last attacker to give his teammate a passing option. Mukhanov is wide open and has a clear path to the net. It paid dividends on this goal here.
His ability to quickly shift his positioning has paved the way for many backdoor one-timer shooting opportunities. But, Mukhanov has struggled with his one-timers throughout his draft year. He mistimes the puck and his stick blade doesn’t connect with the puck at the right moment.
In addition to his one-timer attempts, when shooting the puck after receiving the puck from a pass and has pressure on him, he has struggled at times with pulling the puck back right before he is about to shoot. Mukhanov is looking to get some separation but by bobbling the puck, he looses the opportunity to get the shot off that he wanted. If he bobbles the puck, he runs the risk of the attacker completely closing in on him or taking away the shooting lane he was intending on using.
Mukhanov has good shot selection. He doesn’t force shots from too far away and will on take a shot if he has no other option. But, you won’t see him shoot too often because given how well Mukhanov does under pressure with distribution, he more often then not finds a lane that he can utilize to deliver a pass. So, you won’t see way too many low danger shots from Mukhanov.
Not only does he have good shot selection, but Mukhanov’s vision will allow him to pin-point the precise moment to shoot. For instance, in the clip below you will see Mukhanov target the moment in which the goaltender shifts over and starts to commit to the butterfly. At that moment, the goaltender can’t take away space top shelf and Mukhanov takes advantage.
As mentioned earlier when talking about his shot (keeping control of the puck when pulling the puck back before shooting), Mukhanov will struggle from time to time with his stick-handling. His reach will limit his ability to push pucks and Mukhanov seems to be learning with his limitations are with his reach. So, he has failed to re-capture possession of the puck when trying to push the puck around an attacker off the rush.
When it comes to his forechecking, Mukhanov does a good job of maintaining good presence thanks to the speed that he can create off of his crossovers. But, he doesn’t have the physique to win the loose puck in tighter battles. I’d like to see Mukhanov use more of an active stick when on the forecheck especially in situations where he and a fellow teammate are looking to trap an attacker. I don’t believe encouraging Mukhanov to use stick lift makes sense unless he is close enough to the attacker, so I’d like to see Mukhanov use an active stick to lure attackers into traps.
Mukhanov is usually looking to defend at centered ice. He will defend against the boards and along the point, but since he isn’t overly physical, Mukhanov looks to apply pressure at open ice more often then not. He will deviate from patrolling at centered ice to patrolling at the half-wall, but it’s usually in situations where he can team up with one of his defenseman to trap a vulnerable attacker in low danger. Mukhanov seals off the gap with his positioning and his defenseman engages physically with the attacker along the boards. When he finds himself adjusting his positioning to defending the half-wall after an opposing defenseman pinches up with possession and looks to skate up the boards, Mukhanov uses a bit more of an active stick to try to cause puck disruption. He will use his stick like a wind-mill and try to make contact with the puck in order to poke it free.
Like I mentioned in the offense section, Mukhanov’s reach will limit his ability to cause puck disruption when he positioned slightly further back. When he attempts to stick lift, he usually misses the mark and struggles to lift the attacker’s stick shaft. His reach also limits his ability to grab onto loose puck quickly in highly contested loose puck battles.
Mukhanov does a good job of providing outlet lanes for his defenseman near the red line. When he nets control of the puck via outlet pass deep in his own zone, he is fast with his distribution of the puck. He is quickly completing a pass in an effort to move the puck up the ice before the pressure swallows them up.
Just like in the defensive zone, Mukhanov is usually defending against the rush at a centered ice position in the neutral zone. Since he has a much smaller frame, it doesn’t make sense to have him work the boards when facing the rush because he doesn’t have the physicality to be rather impactful along the boards. His defensive strategy is to use his positioning to limit space to trap.
While on the rush and in a 2 on 1, Mukhanov times his passes perfectly. When he sees the attacker start to pay more attention to him by changing his angle (so that the attacker is more centered / squared towards him), Mukhanov passes underneath the stick shaft of the attacker to his teammate who is open and not facing an immediate threat. The attacker is now out of position and can’t shift over in time to shut down Mukhanov’s teammate. As I’ve said earlier on, Mukhanov distributes very nicely in tight quarters and it’s no different in the neutral zone. He’ll pass underneath / above stick shafts, complete drop passes and behind the back passes.
Since Mukhanov doesn’t have a lengthy stride, sometimes he will opt to complete give and gos when driving the puck through the neutral zone. It’s usually when the pressure is overwhelming. So, instead of testing each attacker’s east – west speed, he will look to feed the puck to an open teammate and then get himself into open ice near the offensive zone blue line to give his teammate a quality passing lane. It paved the way for this beautiful goal that Mukhanov scored at 4v4 in late January.
Mukhanov leans on his edges and has well-timed crossovers. He activates quite nicely and can generate quality speed off after deploying his edges. Since his straight line stride extensions are short, he relies on his crossovers to build up and maintain speed.
While he doesn’t have the size to be dominant when looking to apply and maintain pressure on an attacker, he does have the speed. He can keep pace nicely.
Since he doesn’t have a power stride, he will be leaned on as a winger and not at center at the NHL level. On occasion, he will look to implement a few stride extensions while on the go, but will repeat stride extensions from the same leg instead of rotating. The one leg drag ends up slowing him down. It does help re-center his positioning, but in tight loose pucks situations, he needs to avoid using one leg drags as it will cost him opportunities to win possession of the puck.
Mukhanov is a high upside pick. The tools in his tool-belt will come in handy at the NHL level and I’m confident that he will eventually slot in as a top six winger. As I mentioned a few times throughout the report, I believe that his lack of a power stride holds him back from playing center. But, Mukhanov does have excellent distribution and finds gaps to pass through routinely when the pressure is on.
If you are looking for a NHL comparable, I’d go with Andrew Mangiapane. A forward, who is undersized, but tenacious and has a motor that just won’t quit.
I had asked Smaht’s Russian and Finnish scout, Gray Matter to comment on the recent trade which sent Mukhanov to Cherepovets and what it means for his continued development next season.
“I mean Cherepovets is getting a great young player, I kinda doubt he’ll be a consistent or particularly impactful KHLer next season still though. I think another year spent primarily in the VHL would be the best scenario. It would allow him room to lean more into further developing his offensive qualities, which would be good for him in the long run. If he’s rushed into the KHL next year, I think he likely plays more of a limited checking role, which I do feel is a role he’d excel at, but I think that extra VHL year would do wonders, and he’d be well worth the wait. ” – Gray Matter
May 22, 2023
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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