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2019 NHL Draft prospect profile: With better skating, Pavel Dorofeyev could be a star player

The winger outclassed his peers this year, but concerns about his skating were made apparent in his KHL time.

NHLI via Getty Images

Prospects who play their draft season in a professional league, or even partly in a men’s league, tend to draw a lot of interest from scouts. Production doesn’t matter as much as the on-ice minutes they get at a high level, proving that they have the trust of the coaching staff due to their special attributes, and that they can hang with players much older and physically mature.

Pavel Dorofoyev only recorded two points in 23 games for the KHL’s Metallurg Magnitogorsk. His production was certainly affected by ice time and the difficulty of the league he was playing in; the KHL is widely considered the second-best hockey league in the world. But even if he wasn’t an impact player for the club, just the fact that he got a long stint with the team is a good sign that he could grow into such a role.

Birthplace: Nizhny Tagil, RUS
Date of birth: October 26, 2000
Shoots: Left
Position: Wing
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 163 lbs.
Team: Metallurg Magnitogorsk (KHL)

What’s also interesting with Dorofoyev is that his overall production isn’t as much of a question as it is for other prospects who spend the entire year playing up a level. Against his own age group, Dorofoyev dominated. He scored 31 points in 19 games for Stalnye Lisy in the MHL and generally showed his offensive impact.

EliteProspects

He is primarily a scorer; of those 31 points, 17 were goals. The winger has quick hands in the slot and knows where to position himself to get the best scoring chances. Once he gets the puck inside the defensive box, he can thread it around the stick of defenders and beat a repositioning goalie. His stickhandling isn’t as smooth as some of the best handlers in the draft, but he consistently gets the first touch on the puck as he manipulates it in traffic, keeping it away from the opposition.

Drorofeyev also shows a powerful wrister off the rush and the ability to one-time pucks from cross-crease passes, and his handling abilities can also make him a dangerous playmaker. He locates his surrounding options quickly and can draw defenders to him, beat them, and set up teammates for scoring chances.

The first clip in the video below is one of the most impressive sequences from the prospect this season. He picks up the puck on the boards, turns to face a first defender, dangles through him and attacks the slot from below the goal line, going around a second defender to feed a teammate. The second sequence is also interesting, seeing him change the angle of his pass, use a quick backhand to bypass the stick of a defender, and reach a teammate in front of the net.

The main concern with Dorofoyev is one related to his pace of play. He isn’t a great skater, neither speedy nor quick in his movements, but his form should allow him to improve his mobility as he gains strength. It isn’t so much mobility that is the true issue, but more the fact that he generally prefers slowing the game down than attacking with the speed he does have.

Take a look at this game sequence below:

Dorofeyev, number 27 in white and gold, is backchecking through the neutral zone. He hustles and catches up to his man and helps break up the opposing play in his end. But as soon as the puck is on his stick, he stops pushing the pace. He could hit teammates on the breakout in position to carry the puck in the offensive zone, which would allow him to trail them and come in as a late shooting option, playing into his skill set, or accelerate to rush with numbers up the ice to catch the defence as they are still repositioning. But he simply drifts up.

Despite attacking four defenders without much speed, Dorofeyev still gains the offensive zone quite easily. The defenders part to allow access to their end even if this play could have been broken at the blue line. The choice there is reinforced by the favourable outcome, and it can lead to the formation of bad habits.

The KHL is a much better defensive league. The ice is larger, but plays have to be executed with high pace if a team wants to get inside dangerous areas of the ice before the opposition can stop them. Dorofeyev will have to learn to use his skill in combination with quicker decision-making, something he has definitely shown himself capable of, if he wants to have an impact at higher levels.

Rankings (not all rankings are final)

Dobber Prospects: #16
Elite Prospects: #15
Future Considerations: #25
Hockey Prospect: #20
McKeen’s: #31
McKenzie/TSN: #65
NHL Central Scouting: #12 (EU skaters)
Pronman/The Athletic: #36

The winger’s game is in need of more refinement than that of other prospects who are in his projected range. That, coupled with his age — Dorofeyev is one of the older player in the class — might end up keeping him outside of the first round in the end. If a team loves his goal-scoring and playmaking touch enough, and projects that he will add consistency and details that would make his game NHL transferable, it’s possible to see him picked fairly high on the first day of the draft.

He doesn’t have the intensity of a Vasili Podkolzin, his Russian counterpart, but there is arguably a similar skill level there. The reward for betting on Dorofeyev could be high.