16Dmitry Zavgorodniy
Photo Credit: Terry Wilson/CHL Images

Development camp 2018: Dmitry Zavgorodniy is chasing his dreams

The Calgary Flames seem comfortable leaving their comfort zone in the late rounds of the NHL Draft. In recent years they’ve become more comfortable with grabbing undersized scorers, with the likes of Matthew Phillips and Andrew Mangiapane being snapped up by the club. But this past June they did something they rarely do: select a small, Russian import player from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in the seventh round.

It’s a bit of an interesting move for a team that hasn’t had a ton of recent success with Russians or Quebec league players, but Dmitry Zavgorodniy is an interesting prospect who could be worth the risk.

Originally from Osmk, Russia, Zavgorodniy came up through the Avangard Omsk organization and put up strong numbers. He led the Russian U16 league in scoring as a 15-year-old and was top 30 in scoring in their U17 league as a 16-year-old – he was third in the U17 league on a points-per-game basis.

Zavgorodniy’s domestic success led to interest on this side of the Atlantic, which led to him making the big leap and coming over to Canadian major junior hockey via the 2017 CHL Import Draft. A bright-eyed 17-year-old Russian was dropped into the heartland of the QMJHL with the Rimouski Oceanic.

“I really like Rimouski and North America, Canada,” said Zavgorodniy at Flames development camp. “People like hockey and now every time each game, four thousand people at each game. It’s pretty cool. And it’s a bit different. It’s different, but my teammate [Denis Mikhnin] is from Russia, he’s a big help when I arrive there.”

In addition to adjusting to all the on-ice differences of North American hockey, including the smaller ice and different pace of play in the QMJHL, Zavgorodiny had to adjust to life in a bilingual country and a team where not everybody spoke the same language. He credited his coaches with helping him adjust.

“It’s hard at first,” said Zavgorodniy. “I sit in the locker room and all speak French, just four or five guys who don’t know French. My first time I came there I wasn’t sure how to speak there. But I learned some French words. I want to learn some [more] French.”

During the season, Zavgorodniy took language classes twice a week to help him adjust (and presumably will continue to do so). He made a strong first impression in his rookie year, with 47 points in 62 games – good for fourth on the Oceanic. With a playing style and build somewhat resembling a right-shooting Mangiapane he seems poised for a stronger 2018-19, as the Oceanic will have potential 2020 top pick Alexis Lafreniere leading the way while some departures will open the door for Zavgorodniy to have a bigger role on the team.

“I want to get better every day,” said Zavgorodniy. “I don’t have any goal, but I just want to make the team in Rimouski and try to show what a teammate I am. And go on that roster and try to make NHL and sign a contract. That stuff, that’s my dream, to play in NHL. I want to do all I can to go there.”

Zavgorodniy was one of the youngest first-time eligible players in the 2018 draft class, not turning 18 until mid-August. Due to where his birthday falls, he’s not eligible to play in the American Hockey League until the 2020-21 season – so he’ll have two more full seasons in the QMJHL to hone his craft. For now, he’s just excited to be drafted.

“I’m pretty happy to be part of this organization,” said Zavgorodniy. “I’m so proud. It’s really cool. It’s one of the best days of my life.”


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  • Off the wall

    For the past two weeks, I’ve been trying to sell my old work truck. It needed a few small things, ( of which I made evident in my ad) however it’s been well maintained over the years I’ve owned it.

    You have two types of people, when it comes to buying.
    The first are the ones who try to find every possible way to reduce the value of your vehicle, by being offensive and picky.
    I absolutely dislike those types and send em’ on their way.
    Don’t have time for stupidity..

    Then there are the ones who appreciate it’s a used vehicle and is not going to be perfect.
    I like dealing with these types.
    They are realistic..

    I finally sold my truck this weekend, to a guy who was ecstatic about buying it.

    We have so much to be realistic about when we look at all these prospects. We all know some might make it, others won’t.
    The picky ones complain about wasted or horrible draft picks, the realistic ones see it as it is. Potential!

    I know it’s summer and we desperately want some hockey to watch.

    But I really enjoy reading about these kids and following the development path they take.
    This kid could be a real beauty!

  • Baalzamon

    Zav was my early favorite among the Flames picks, and while Pettersen is closing the gap I still really like the thought process behind picks like this.

    Welcome to Calgary!

    • Trevy

      I agre….Zav really stood out in the scrimmage game and wasn’t afraid to go into the corners to battle for the puck. When he did have it, he always made the smart play and never just gave it up. The kid has some mad skills and I often wondered how he fell so low in the draft. He’s very shifty and quick. Great pick up for the Flames, watch out for this guy in a few years