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Getting to know Montreal Canadiens 144th overall pick Yevgeni Volokhin

The Canadiens took Russian goaltender Yevgeni Volokhin with the 144th pick in the NHL Draft. It was the third goalie they chose, and perhaps the most obscure. Jacob Fowler was a top prospect in the Draft at the position. Quentin Miller played in the QMJHL, and that leaves Volokhin.

The 18-year-old Russian was not ranked anywhere, there are no videos of him on YouTube, and only McKeen’s had a brief blurb about him in any of the draft guides.

Birthplace: Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia
Date of birth: April 6, 2005
Catches: Left
Position: Goaltender
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 168 lbs
Team: Mamonty Yugry (MHL)

You may think that this is where the story ends, but there is enough we do know about him that makes us intrigued rather than writing him off immediately.

Volokhin as recently as two years ago only played in Russia’s youth levels for his hometown team Yugra Khanty-Mansiysk. He played about 40 games at the U16 and U17 levels before finally making the jump to the MHL, Russia’s U20 league. That one season showed enough to get him drafted into the NHL.

He played 31 games this past season, with a 2.12 goals against average and .927 save percentage. He had a record of 20-6-3. In the playoffs, his strong play continued even if the success of his team did not. With a 1-4 record (and one of those losses in overtime), he had a 2.52 goals against average and .931 save percentage.

Volokhin wasn’t in Nashville for the NHL Draft, but if he was, I’m sure he and Carey Price could have shared a knowing glance with how that feels.

While not the gigantic 6’6″ goalies we have seen burst on the scene lately, Volokhin is a slighly more modest 6’3″, but his very athletic. Make no mistake about it: Volokhin is a major work in progress with scouts thinking his technique needs a lot of refinement while still thinking the tools are pro quality.

Goaltenders are hard to scout at the best of times, especially on video which is where he caught the eye of Canadiens scouts to get him listed high enough on their board to be selected. In the MHL playoffs, he played against the team that fellow Canadiens draft pick Bogdan Konyushkov played for, but before Konyushkov joined the team for the playoffs.

Clearly with the numbers he put up, there’s something to be intrigued by, especially considering it was his first season in a U20 league and he skipped the U18 level completely. The Canadiens have no rush to bring him over or to make a decision on him, so perhaps this is a pick we revisit in several years. Alternatively, it could simply fade into obscurity.

The last few years have created opportunities for teams to find talent that has been overlooked. First it was due to the pandemic and scouts doing most scouting on video, leagues having limited schedules or not playing at all. Then, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine made scouting prospects in Russia harder than ever, plus their teams are not taking part in international competitions.

This doesn’t affect the top level players in big systems in the KHL and MHL, but the next tiers there is the potential for a diamond in the rough. Of course, the talent you think you see on video could also just be a mirage.

Time will tell what the Canadiens have in this player, but it is way too early to form any kind of opinion on this pick. Another solid season in the MHL will go a long way towards making him a legitimate NHL prospect.

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