As we continue our coverage of the 2022 NHL Draft’s prospects, we’ll have an opportunity to look at specific players who excel in one area more than any other.
Hockey sense and on-ice intelligence are elements of the game of hockey that are difficult to define, tricky to identify, and near-impossible to develop from a weakness to a strength. So when a player shows up in the draft who has it in spades, on top of a solid foundation of tools, it is never too early to pick him up.
Gleb Trikozov is that player.
Date of birth: August 12, 2004
Position: Centre/Right wing
Weight: 185 lbs.
Team: Omskie Yastreby (MHL)/Omskie Krylia (VHL)
Splitting his time between Russia’s Junior league and their second division of men’s hockey, Trikozov managed 45 points — 23 goals and 22 assists — in 35 regular-season games for the under-21 squad, and added 10 goals and eight assists in 13 postseason matches. The prospect managed to squeeze in 11 professional matches in the VHL, earning a goal and adding an assist while averaging under 10 minutes a game.
Immediately, Trikozov’s goal-scoring ability jumps out. He has a heavy wrist shot which he uses excellently to pick corners. He hides his release quite well, using a moment’s delay followed by quick-twitch muscle activation to shoot the puck without warning and catch netminders flat-footed. He drives his back knee down towards the ice when shooting in-stride while keeping his front foot firmly pointed at the net. His upper-body torsion helps him fake a short-side shot with his body language while being able to find the far side with his release.
His one-timer from a standstill is also technically refined, with great weight transfer and full-body activation. Despite not putting all of his back into the shot, it still whips off his stick with pace and power. Trikozov also has a wicked curl-and-drag wrister, a strong slap shot, and can snap pucks on goal from in-tight. He has multiple goal-scoring tools in his bag and makes the right decisions when sifting through them to put pucks in the back of the net.
Decision-making, as it happens, is Trikozov’s greatest strength. He pre-scans often and with purpose, making sure he maps out the offensive zone to prepare his puck touches. Once he has the puck, he knows what to do, how to do it, and where to go afterward. This especially shines in transition, where he identifies the wave of pressure he needs to beat, and once he does, finds the right moment to delegate and hit a pocket of space for a return pass. He can both crank up the pace and slow it down, based on what’s ahead of him, if there’s a trailing teammate coming, or if there’s back-pressure on him from opponents.
Although his goal-scoring is his strongest offensive tool, his playmaking is a major asset due to his high-end smarts. He identifies the right lanes to hit, does a good job of drawing in opponents to open up seams, and is good at sending passes into space for his linemates. He doesn’t hesitate to use his backhand, which opens up many more opportunities to dish the puck in ways that maximize puck retention.
Although Trikozov’s skating isn’t the most refined — there’s a noticeable leg kick in his forward strides and his top speed isn’t outstanding as a result — he is elusive enough to weave in and out of checks, retain the puck through crossovers and create transitional offence with ease. These little details in skating form can be eased out of his stride, especially since the foundation is strong. His upper body and lower body work independently, allowing him to make plays at a high pace with just as much efficiency as from a standstill.
Defensively, Trikozov puts his mind to use almost as well as he does offensively. He closes up lanes well with his stick and body, approaches puck-carriers at an optimal angle, and does a good job disrupting plays on the cycle. He never quits, going all-out to get the puck back from his team. He seems to enjoy and take pride in the off-puck game, which is rare for a young prospect in the MHL.
His physical frame helps him a lot along the boards, as the 6’1”, 185-pound prospect doesn’t shy away from physical contact — he often initiates it. When carrying the puck, he’ll cut towards opponents before cutting away, forcing them to get an arm on him before spinning off and creating separation. This both draws in an opponent, therefore freeing up a teammate, and takes that opponent out of the equation after he escapes with the puck.
The main concern with Trikozov is consistency. There are games in which he’ll make you wonder how he isn’t playing in the KHL, and others where he’ll barely touch the puck at all. As an August birthday, however, he is one of the youngest players available in the 2022 NHL Draft and has a bunch of runway ahead of him to develop a more constant game. He already boasts one of the soundest minds in the class on both sides of the puck despite his young age.
Elite Prospects: #18
FC Hockey: #15
Bob McKenzie (TSN): #64
Craig Button (TSN): #33
NHL Central Scouting: #15 (European skaters)
Recruit Scouting: #23
Scott Wheeler (The Athletic): #46
He is the eleventh-best prospect in my personal rankings, but when focusing on the actual draft-day results, the TSN duo of McKenzie and Button are the ones who often get as close to the real deal as possible. They both have Trikozov in the second round, meaning that he is more than likely to be available with either the Montreal Canadiens’ late-first or early-second rounder. If he is somehow there at 40th-overall, the Habs should be scrambling to the stage to get him.
This is a prospect with legitimate top-six potential, who is arguably the smartest forward in his class outside of Shane Wright. The toolkit is alluring, the tools themselves are refined, and he is among the youngest players available. The runway ahead of him to keep growing adds another layer of intrigue to his potential as a two-way, dual-threat forward, especially since his foundations are so solid already. Whoever lands Trikozov at the draft table will have an extremely interesting project to work with and develop.