Ivan Demidov Destroying Russian MHL

SKA Hockey Club player, Ivan Demidov (11) seen in action...
SKA Hockey Club player, Ivan Demidov (11) seen in action... / SOPA Images/GettyImages

Like the 2023 NHL Draft, the 2024 draft boasts a high-octane Russian talent that could be available when the Montreal Canadiens pick rolls around.

Until the NHL draft lottery happens, there is nothing set in stone in terms of where each team will select. But if Demidov slides down the draft board to the Canadiens they would be wise to select him. The winger has been dominant in Russia's junior league, and questions about the level of competition have risen, but Demidov looks infinitely better than all of his opponents.

Through 30 regular season games, Demidov averaged two points per game. Without skipping a beat, he has picked up in the playoffs where he left off in the regular season. Averaging two points per game in the playoffs, topped off with the series-clinching overtime winner.

He has proven to be a clutch player, who his club can rely on for big-time goals in crunch time. And his puckhandling ability matched with his confidence makes him a threat each time he touches the puck. That sounds like exactly what the Canadiens need, a player that can make a difference.

Stylistically, I see a lot of Evgeni Malkin in Demidov's game; in that he rushes the puck up the ice and he has the skills to dance around defenders. He is much smaller than Malkin, who is (6-foot-3, 195 pounds), whereas Demidov is 5-foot-11 and 168 pounds. However, he does play a relentless game in the attacking zone, much like Malkin.

Demidov is also a great shooter, using one-touch shots, snapshots and quick wristers. Offensively, his all-around game is near the top of the 2024 draft class. With better players, in a higher league, I expect that Demidov's skill will translate - thankfully for the Canadiens, they have plenty of good playmakers.

There is certainly some room for growth, which is the case with almost every 18-year-old hockey. Demidov's defensive game could use some polishing, but he isn't likely to come over to North America until, at least, the end of his current contract in 2024-25. If the Canadiens are lucky enough to get their hands on Demidov, than there is every reason to believe that Adam Nicholas, director of player development, will work closely with him.

Demidov with Kirby Dach and Joshua Roy could be a pretty nice trio on the second line. He would provide Dach with a pure goal scorer and Roy with somebody who can capitalize on his smart neutral zone play. Kent Hughes understands that the Canadiens need another forward or two with top-six potential, so if Demidov is there, I think he will consider the option very seriously.

After ripping up the MHL, I don't see a scenario where he isn't promoted to the KHL, which would be a huge step in his development. With his talent and development at the top of the priority list for whichever team drafts him, Demidov is sure to have some big goals set for himself. If all goes right, he could be a season away from making his debut on the smaller ice in North America.

Aside from Macklin Celebrini, I think that Demidov would be the next best forward, ahead of Cayden Lindstrom, Berkly Catton and Cole Eiserman. Demidov also has a notch in his belt, that the rest of the top-tier forwards don't have. Other than Celebrini, no other forward has experience playing against men, but Demidov has done so against professionals.

He may not be at the same level as Matvei Michkov, but he looks like a sure bet to become a top line NHL winger.