Semyon Der-Arguchintsev hasn't received much of the spotlight leading up to the draft. He isn't a high-ranked prospect by the majority of outlets (Corey Pronman's The Athletic ranking being the notable exception).
Usually when watching a prospect, you can somewhat understand the average ranking by his on-ice play; the flaws and the qualities that make him project where he does. You don't necessarily have to agree with the numbers or have the same evaluation, but you at least see the reasoning behind it.
This is not the case with Der-Arguchintsev.
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Date of birth: September 15, 2000
Weight: 159 lbs.
Team: Peterborough Petes
He seems to be a forgotten talent of this draft class, one who has a much higher ability than what he is given credit for, and could easily end up becoming a big steal for a team willing to bet on the forward's development.
Der-Arguchintsev is a true playmaker. He showcases a great vision of the ice and is constantly seen, with or without possession, looking around and planning ahead to find the best target for his passes, enabling him to set up quick and dangerous scoring chances. He can make one-touch feeds to get the puck through traffic quickly, but is also able to create passing lanes by deceiving defenders just as easily.
Semyon Der-Arguchintsev wears #19 with the Peterborough Petes.
He makes hard, accurate passes, and can lift the puck above the stick of opponents to have it fall in position to be instantly fired at the net by teammates.
The quality that really sets him apart is his incredible patience with possession. He sees plays develop before most and can hold his next move until the right time to open space for himself and others. This can bait the opposing defence into over-committing, freeing Der-Arguchintsev's teammates for passes.
In the clip above, the easy play would have probably been taking the puck further down in the zone by attempting to skate with it or passing it along the boards. But instead, Der-Arguchintsev holds it, attracts the defender by having the puck in a vulnerable position, makes a quick move to his backhand avoiding the pokecheck, and places a pass in the open space for his teammate, creating a shot from the slot.
What greatly helps his playmaking tendencies is his precise control of the puck. He has shifty hands and is a very good stickhandler in tight spaces. He can come out of a scrum with the puck strictly by having found the small opening where it will fit through. He also smartly uses stick lifts in combination with his handling to prevent others from taking possession away from him.
This ability serves the centre’s game by letting him get shots on net by attacking the slot or creating controlled zone entries for his team. He can dangle and play keep-away against multiple defenders off the rush and make scoring chances happen on the fly.
He will have to work on his acceleration, but skating through the neutral zone, he can put up a lot of speed with the usage of forward cross-overs, blowing past defenders while stickhandling with a momentum that is hard to stop.
Even if the prospect's game shines a lot more on the offensive side of the puck, his defensive game, while being a work in progress, is still respectable. He positions himself well overall, works down low to retrieve the puck and, on the breakout, can get his team out of tough situations with his handling ability.
Future Consideration: #149
NHL Central Scouting: #82 (NA Skaters)
The forward's game is not devoid of weaknesses. In the last available tests, Der-Arguchintsev was measured at 5'10” and 159 pounds, which provides an explanation as to why he can get outmuscled on the boards; something that definitely plays against him at both ends of the ice. In possession, he is elusive and uses good body positioning to protect the puck against back pressure, but, unfortunately, it wasn't always enough this season.
Working on his first few steps and separation gear would also improve his overall game. He makes up for it right now by outsmarting opponents, but adding explosive qualities would create even more space for him to make plays happen and help him break the opponent’s cycle a lot easier in the defensive zone.
He should also up his shot numbers, as 1.5 per game is simply not enough to make him a multi-dimensional threat. This would also help him up his overall production as he only put up 51 points in 68 games, including 12 goals.
That being said, Der-Arguchintsev is right on the cutoff for the 2018 Draft, making him, along with Jan Jeník, the youngest player in the draft. It's to be expected that he was further away in his development this season, and that the Russian centre should put on mass and grow more than a 1999-born draft-eligible prospect.
He finished the year strongly and started showing his qualities a lot more, also putting up 23 points in his last 20 games, in line with the optic that Der-Arguchintsev will start to make a big impact as he matures. There's also the fact that the Peterborough Petes ended their season third-last in the OHL this year, something that didn't help the young centre to shine.
With the team's star and older player, Nikita Korostelev, leaving for the KHL, it will leave some room for the likes of Der-Arguchintsev and Pavel Gogolev to take the reins of the team to bring it out of the depth of the OHL standings next season. The dynamic qualities of Der-Arguchintsev should lead him to do just that with a stronger supporting cast.
Looking at the 2018 draft, I think the prospect should at least have second-round considerations. He has the talent, and there are a lot of factors that point to a high potential. But it's very possible that the centre will still be available much later on as he might represent for a lot of teams a higher risk than some of the players whose names have been heard more. The fact that he isn't considered very highly by the majority of scouting services also points to that eventuality.
No matter the round, for a team looking to bet on skill, Semyon Der-Arguchintsev represents a great option.