On the heels of a remarkably productive start to the 2023-24 OHL season, Vancouver Canucks defense prospect Kirill Kudryavtsev was named the Cogeco OHL Player of the Week. The 2021-22 Hlinka Gretzky Cup Gold Medal winner currently has three goals, 12 assists, and 15 points in 14 games with the Soo Greyhounds, to go along with a +9 plus-minus rating. In addition, Kudryavtsev is yet to take a penalty this season.
The Canucks drafted the defenseman in the seventh round (208th overall) in the 2022 NHL Draft, and Kudryavtsev has improved each season since. Last year, the Russian blueliner scored eight goals, 42 assists, and 50 points in 67 games, which was up from the five goals, 34 assists, and 39 points in 68 games he managed during his draft year. At a minimum, it looks like Kudryavtsev is on track to smash his previous career-high in the goals department.
A seventh-round pick is usually no safe bet to play NHL games, but Kudryavtsev has been leveling up year over year. Offensive play, details, and hockey sense have always been skills of his, but the two biggest knocks on Kudryavtsev’s game have been his passive style of defending and his slow processing speed. Based strictly on the incremental increase in points each season, it would appear the 19-year-old is at least moving faster in transition and in the offensive zone.
If Kudryavtsev continues on this upward trajectory, it would appear that the Canucks have found themselves a diamond in the rough. The Canucks don’t exactly have a war chest of left-shot defense prospects – though Sawyer Mynio, Jacob Truscott, and Elias Pettersson are all very solid – Kudryavtsev’s development gives them an inkling of NHL hope for the future on that side of the defense.
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Thanks to a great coaching staff and their management, the Abbotsford Canucks prospects have all made tangible steps forward to start this season as well. Next year, they’ll be elated to have Kudryavtsev join the fold.