The Calgary Flames, drafting-wise, are very much creatures of habit. There are two groups that they tap on draft weekend rather infrequently: Russians, and players from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. It seems unlikely that the club would target a player who fits in an overlapping space: a Russian import playing in the QMJHL.
Well, let’s take a quick look at Cape Breton Screaming Eagles winger Egor Sokolov.
Sokolov is one of the youngest first-time eligible players in this draft, being a June birthday. Not only that, he’s huge! He’s a right-shot forward listed at 6’4″ and 224 pounds. He’s a Russian product – he’s from Yekaterinburg, the fourth-largest Russian city according to Wikipedia – and came up through the Traktor Chelyabinsk organization.
He had very good, balanced scoring numbers in Russian juniors, scoring as many goals as he set up. He had 62 points in 35 games in the Under-16 league as a 15-year-old, 73 points in 32 games in the Under-17 league as a 17-year-old and six points in 15 games in the Under-20 league also as a 17-year-old. He also represented Russia in the Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
Looking for a challenge, he decided to head to North America and was a selection of Cape Breton in the 2017 CHL Import Draft.
For a kid playing in a new league, in a new country, on smaller ice, and in a league that’s notorious for being a wild offensive wasteland where defense goes to die, Sokolov had a pretty strong first season. He had 42 points in 64 games and seemed to get his feet under him during the year. He also represented Russia at the Hlinkas.
Ranking him 69th on their list, our pals at Canucks Army had this assessment:
No matter how you look at it, Sokolov is a risk based on the hope that he will round out his game and be that power forward that every team desires. It’s okay to draft for that need at this point in the draft, instead of the early first round, but with the understanding that you are passing on the high skill potential of other players.
But hey, if he’s fallen to 105th and you’re “gambling” in the fourth round rather than in the late second or early third, why not roll the dice? He’ll have a bit of a longer development path, but he’s also 6’4″ and huge and has scored consistently at lower levels in Russia.
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Sokolov was 14th among first-time draft eligible skaters in primary points, overall points and five-on-five primary points, and 12th in five-on-five points. He’s not elite, but he compares pretty well against the mid-level QMJHL draft prospects.
Fit and availability
If you’re betting on offensive potential – since players who have already developed real offensive abilities will be gone by the fourth round – a Russian kid who’s gigantic and has scored consistently at lower levels of hockey seems like a good bet. Unless you think Russian teens and Quebec kids are bad at defending, in which case maybe hedge your bets a bit.
Canucks Army has Sokolov 69th, Future Considerations has him 97th and ISS Hockey has him 109th, so it’s completely possible that he falls to the Flames. He’s already got NHL size, so perhaps the Flames could grab him and keep developing his offensive acumen.
2018 fourth round targets
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