Daniil Misyul is not a name often mentioned when discussing defencemen in this draft class, but he deserves consideration. He played most of the season in the MHL (the Russian Junior league) for Loko Yaroslav, a team that featured many of the most intriguing Russian prospects in this draft: players like Ilya Nikolayev, Kirill Slepets and Daniil Gutik. As is sometimes the case for top Junior skaters in Russia, he was brought up to the main club for some KHL games during the season, and even the playoffs.
Birthplace: Minsk, Belarus
Weight: 176 lbs.
Teams: Loko Yaroslavl (MHL) / Lokomotiv Yaroslav (KHL)
He made enough of an impression on the KHL coaching staff in the post-season to not only be continuously used, but also earn increasing shifts and minutes on the ice. He was trusted to play the same game he had in the MHL, and even found a role on the penalty kill.
Misyul doesn’t impress with his numbers, at least not in terms of production. His height of 6’3” is what draws the most attention, but his record this season doesn’t necessarily reflect his effectiveness.
He is a smooth skater, especially for his size. He can show some speed and quickness, but he is also quite agile. His fluid pivots help him keep up with opposing attackers and break their plays while defending off the rush. He also uses his stick effectively in those situations to cut off passing lanes, angle attackers to the boards, and take the puck away.
What he currently lacks in defensive awareness — something that should improve thorough his career — he makes up for with strong man-to-man defence. He closes in on his coverage, takes away attempts in front of the net by neutralizing opposing sticks, and is generally quite physical despite his relatively slight build. He competes hard and doesn’t let other players walk over him, even when he was defending against much older players in his stint in the KHL.
In the following sequences, you can see Misyul match opponents’ speed off the rush. He has a bit of a loose gap, but still forces them to the boards with his pivot as they enter the defensive zone and cut off their options with his stick.
In the first play, the attack turns back his supporting teammates, and in the second , Misyul takes the puck away himself. The sequences also turn into the defenceman breaking the puck out of his zone.
Misyul loves to rush out with possession. Head up, he looks to enter the offensive zone himself and fire a shot on net, or pass to his teammates after crossing his own blue line.
He is a patient handler, always keeping his feet moving, and while he doesn’t make an elaborate use of misdirection in his carry-outs, he still keeps opponents guessing as to the route he will choose. All those elements contribute to the high success rate of his rushes.
As stated, Misyul didn’t have a great statistical season — only 10 points in 46 games in the MHL and two in nine (including playoffs) in the KHL — but the same qualities that fuel his transition game also give him some offensive potential. He isn’t especially creative, but seizes all his occasions to jump off the blue line to attack deeper in the offensive zone. More often than not that is to shoot at the net, but also occasionally to make a pass into the slot to a teammate.
The defenceman is also unafraid to cut inside the dots, sliding in between the high and low defenders to get a better view of the cage. When there is no seam to exploit, he can threaten to jump up from the blue line, close the defence onto him, and slide the puck over to a teammate freed from his coverage (like in the first clip in the video above).
Contrary to many Junior-aged defenders, Misyul prefers to hold on to the puck at the blue line and wait for a play to open, instead of blasting it on net as soon as he gets it. He handles the puck just as smoothly as he skates, and it serves him well in avoiding incoming defenders and finding a play.
Rankings (not all rankings are final)
NHL Central Scouting: #8 (EU skaters)
Misyul is an aggressive, rangy defenceman who moves well. For those reasons, he is ranked highly by Central Scouting. His stint in the KHL, where he performed quite admirably, also had him jump up a few spots from the mid-term list (ranked 11) to the final one.
He will have to adjust his defensive reads, vary his transition and offensive zone game a bit more by mixing in more passing plays in his carries, but he represents a very interesting project for a team to take on and should be realistically selected somewhere in the second round.
The parallel with Philip Broberg here is interesting. They have similar styles of play and weaknesses. Broberg is perhaps an even better skater and more solid on defence, but Misyul handles the puck better overall. Misyul could be a similarly valuable option a bit later in the draft.