Some prospects coming over from Europe can have trouble finding their way offensively in North America. That was definitely not the case for Vitali Abramov, who was the top scorer for the Gatineau Olympiques, and the top rookie scorer in the entire QMJHL. He finished fifth in overall league scoring, and was an absolute terror in the offensive zone.
He is another undersized forward prospect, but with the ridiculous numbers he put up in the Q last year, he forced scouts to take notice. He is expected to be gone somewhere around the tail end of the first round, but those size concerns could cause a bit of a slide for him. One thing is for sure, he can bring the points.
Birthplace: Chelyabinsk, Russia
Position: Left Wing/Right Wing
Weight: 175 lbs.
Abramov is the complete offensive package. He's a fast skater with great edgework, and watching him carry the puck into the offensive zone is a sight to behold. He can lose defenders in a couple of steps, and he has great hands that enable him to posterize them as well.
Once he gets in the offensive zone, he is extremely creative. He has great vision, and he can find his teammates very easily to create scoring chances. His passing is fantastic, and he put up 35 primary assists last year against 20 secondary.
He's a great playmaker, but he's also a lethal goal-scorer. Whether he's undressing defenders to get in on goal, or using his quick release from further out to snipe, he has an uncanny nose for the net. He wants to score on every shift, and he works his tail off to make that happen. He really is the full package when it comes to creating offence, and it is very hard to find holes in that part of his game.
His defensive game does need some work, and has been noted as his area with the most room for improvement. As a winger, he has less responsibility than he would as a centre, but that doesn't mean he shouldn't look to work on that aspect of his game. It would make him a much more complete player moving forward.
He also needs to avoid putting his head down when carrying the puck. More often than not, his skating allows him to dodge opposing defenders, but he is at times in danger of being on the receiving end of some highlight-reel open-ice hits.
Vitali Abramov is a game breaking talent who crossed over and gave scouts exactly what they wanted to see on NA ice. Far and away the Olympiques leader scoring 20PTS more than the 2nd best scorer, Abramov played close to a full slate in the CHL maintaining his PTS/GP rate in the playoffs with 1.30. A true Russian wizard, Abramov signaled his draft year rise blowing up the WU17 Challenge with 9PTS in 6GP and looking more dynamic than Sokolov – it just wasn’t acceptable to say so back then. Abramov had his way all year long in the Q with unlocking scoring plays as soon as he touched the puck. With a magnificent energy to spur a goal, it seemed as though he never had to try hard for something to come out of nothing.
Abramov is a pure playmaker who has the shot mechanics and skill to also contribute as a sniper. He plays with his head up and his feet moving to hockey sense driven patterns. The closest thing to a European Brayden Point, Abramov checks in an inch smaller though heavier and potentially more durable. Amongst CHL first year eligibles: tied 6th in G% of Team GF with 16%, tied 3rd in PTS% of Team GF with 40%, 4th in 8 categories: G (38), A (55), PTS (93), PTS/GP (1.48), ESG (27), ESG/GP (.43), first two thirds PTS/GP (1.48), last third PTS/GP (1.48). Abramov’s draft forecast is tricky to predict though everything else is transparent as he is a dominant forward who will get better.
Abramov is an ultra-skilled offensive winger who creates chances with his speed and slippery moves. He is a determined little bugger who will make you pay when given space or time. He processes the game exceptionally well and gets to spots where he can get the puck and make a play. Abramov seems to have eyes in the back of his head and an excellent sense of his surroundings. He has the ability to find the soft spots in the offensive zone, though he is no stranger to the gritty areas either. He has elusiveness to his game and is super-quick to find an opening as he is constantly buzzing in the offensive zone.
Abramov exudes confidence with the puck on the breakout, and can really push the play and force defenders onto their heels, using his slick, creative hands and smarts to fool defenders. Abramov uses his speed to his advantage — especially on the forecheck as a man approaches — to separate in a flash. His ability to change speed on the rush throws off defenders and even the goalie as he moves side-to-side quickly after slowing his approach. He has the ability to get creative at high speeds, showing off confidence with the puck. Abramov is strong on the puck with a firm grip and solid core strength. He quietly gets to the soft spots in the offensive zone where he can easily receive a pass and make a difference, showing great reads. His passes have the right power and placement, even while moving at a decent speed up ice. He sees the ice exceptionally well, with good hockey sense to pick apart lanes. Abramov has a really good sense of where his teammates are going to be, making his somewhat dangerous no-look passes with ease. He has the ability to unload a quick and lethal wrist shot with very little time or space.
Vitalii entered his first full season in the QMJHL as he was selected in the CHL Import Draft in 2015 coming over from the Russian Jr. league. He did not look out of place at all where in his 1st game he scored 4 points and finished the year with 93 points tied for 5th in league scoring. Vitalii is an undersized forward with great speed and high hockey IQ that creates a lot of offensive chances for himself and his teammates. He is a good skater and is really good on his edges and has good mobility to get out of tight areas, and has quick acceleration to separate himself from defenders. He has a quick and accurate release with his shot and is really good at coming off the half boards or off the rush and cutting into the slot and taking shot on net.
Vitalii has very good stickhandling ability where he can handle the puck at top speed coming into the zone and can stickhandle in a phone booth. He has high hockey IQ, he is really good at anticipating how the play is going to develop in front of him, where his teammates are going to be on the ice, he is also very good at finding the open areas of the zone to get set up for an offensive chance. He hockey sense really shows on the power play where he can be very creative and seems to always find the open man, or taking the proper shot on net. Vitalii also can be very creative coming into the zone of the rush, whether it’s stopping and finding the trailer or making a move on the D, he always seems to slow the game down. We would like to see him go hard to the net or to the dirty areas of the rink; he tends to do a lot of his work on the perimeter.
Vitalii defensive of game would be the thing he has to work on for the next level, he needs to get stronger along the boards, there were a lot of times in our viewings he was losing the puck along the boards for the break out or if the defensemen pinches down. He also tends to run around too much in his own zone, instead of focusing on his own man and staying with them. Once he does get the puck along the boards he’s good at those touch passes to his center curling or touch pass of the boards. Vitalii has 1st round talent and hockey smarts, he just needs to focus on getting bigger and stronger and working on the little parts to the game away from the puck, he could be a very good hockey player at the next level and be very effective.
Future Considerations: 24th
Hockey Prospect: 29th
DraftBuzz Hockey: 25th
NHL Central Scouting: 29th (North American skaters)
Draft Analyst: 26th
I would absolutely love to see Abramov go to the Montreal Canadiens, but it seems like an unlikely prospect unless they trade pretty far down in the first round, or put together a package to move up. He is generally ranked as a first-round pick, likely to go in the 25-30 range, so the only hope seems to be him falling out of the first altogether.
If by some chance he did slide down to 39th overall, they should absolutely scoop him up there. It seems unlikely that every team in the 20-30 range and beyond will pass up on the chance to add an offensive dynamo of his calibre, but we have seen undersized scorers fall before, so it isn't out of the question.
He's made his name playing in their backyard, so I have to assume the Habs have done their scouting homework on him. Again, I think it highly unlikely they get their hands on him, unless maybe they decide to package one of their second round picks to move back into that 25-30 range.
In any case, whoever gets Vitali Abramov is getting a player with a whole lot of scoring potential.