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2019 NHL Draft prospect profile: Pyotr Kochetkov is a starter in the making

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Passed over in previous years, could this Russian be another goaltending gem?

Russia v Switzerland: Bronze Medal Game - 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images

Pyotr Kochetkov is a very interesting goaltender prospect who flew under the radar in lower-tier Russian leagues. He’s making his case to be taken by a team on his third and final shot at the NHL Entry Draft.

In the last few years, Kochetkov spent his time on multiple teams. Much of his 2017-18 season was played in the MHL (similar to the Junior leagues in North America), finally graduating to the VHL (the AHL equivalent), with a short stint in the KHL in 2018-19.

Birthplace: Penza, Russia
Catches: Left
Position: Goaltender
Height: 6’3”
Weight: 205 lbs.
Team: SKA-Neva Saint Petersburg (VHL)

Kochetkov posted great stats in the various leagues he played in. He made his mark in the MHL with Kapitan Stupino and progressed solidly in the VHL. He never looked out of place from the juniors team to his short stint in the second-best league in the world.

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He has a great mix of size, standing 6’3” and weighing 205 pounds, strong technical techniques, and great athleticism. It took some time, but this year should be the year he will hear his name called at the draft. He showed in 2018-19 that he was a quality goaltender and can put up serious stats in pro leagues.

Kochetkov is a quick and agile netminder with size and quite a bit of upside. He’s finally breaking out as a 19-year-old in men’s leagues, establishing himself as a goalie who could have an impact at the NHL level.

A good lateral goaltender, he’s quick on his edges and doesn’t make too many unnecessary motions. He’s often square to the shooter and controls his rebounds decently. He has a strong butterfly and reverse-VH stance. He possesses both a good glove hand and decent blocker control.

There aren’t many holes in his game. Most of his current weaknesses should disappear with more experience. His bad habits of dropping too quickly or keeping his hands too low can be resolved with time and a bit of training. He’s still raw in certain areas, but is showing strong signs of potential with how well everything seems to be coming together for him this year.

He’s been putting up numbers on par with Daniil Tarasov, who was drafted in the third round in 2017 by the Columbus Blue Jackets. His poise and form have really helped him round into an intriguing option between the pipes.

The most impressive thing about Kochetkov’s year was how he really made a name for himself on the international scene. He put up impressive numbers in the Russian Selects U20: a 0.67 goals-against average and .978 save percentage in three games. He was a difference-maker in that small size simple. He also crushed the World Junior Championship competition in Vancouver and Victoria, where he posted a 1.45 GAA and .953 Sv% in five contests, winning a bronze medal and the best goaltender award along the way. During the Canada/Russia Series played versus stars of the three CHL leagues, he outplayed the named starter and took the reins for himself.

Those performances on North American soil surely forced scouts to take notice. He really came out strong and established himself as a serious bet in net. He can easily keep up with plays and reacts just in time to make saves.

He never stop competing for the puck until he either makes the save or the puck gets in his net. In the clip below, you can see an amazing save made partly out of desperation. It’s not pretty, it’s not technical, but it was effective. He twisted and turned to make the save, and that’s a quality you want in a young goaltender: the drive to keep up with the play and to put it all out on the ice to make sure his team has a chance to win.

He’s also not shy when it comes time to take some gambles. In the clip below, he takes a very aggressive approach against Slovakia to keep the shooter from doing anything worthwhile. His dive and poke at the Slovakian player shows a degree of recklessness that can be useful in moderation.

As much as the toolkit and the skills seem to be coming together nicely, scouts should still have a few questions. It is really his first year putting everything together and posting strong number across the board, and he will turn 20 a few days after the draft wraps up. Was this a fluke season, or has Kochetkov developed quickly into what we’re seeing right now? Goaltenders are notorious for their slower development, and this breakout year comes into his last year eligible for the draft.

He’s also contracted to SKA Saint Petersburg for next year, meaning he wouldn’t cross the pond until he’s more experienced.

His strong year may be enough to sway a team into picking him. Given just how many different squads hewas able to find success on, he should be getting picked, but perhaps not as high as early in the third round.

Rankings (not all rankings are final)

Dobber Prospects: #56
Hockey Prospect: #47
McKenzie/TSN: #64
NHL Central Scouting: #1 (EU Goalies)
Pronman/The Athletic: #2 (Goaltenders)

He would be an interesting bet between the fourth and fifth round. A team with multiple picks around that region of the draft could take a flier on him, hoping his upward trend continues.

It’s also possible that his age and position will leave him low on many draft boards and he will watch once again as all 31 teams pass on him. Should that be the case, and should he see another solid year in Russia, the roles could be reversed and it will be scouts heading overseas to make their best pitches to add him to an NHL roster as a free agent.