The Flames have drafted small but talented picks in the later rounds under Brad Treliving, and it’s starting to pay off. Andrew Mangiapane, 166th overall in 2015, has proven that he’s too good for the AHL and has started to make an impression in the NHL. Matthew Phillips, who also went at 166 in the 2016 draft, had a pretty good rookie season in the AHL and may not be that far off from the NHL.
The team hopes that the 5’9 Dmitry Zavgorodniy can be another pick that outperforms his draft spot. Selected at 198th overall in last year’s draft, the right shooting left winger immediately made a case as to why he could be considered one of the Flames’ top ten prospects.
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Zavgorodniy’s rookie North American season was full of its ups and downs. He put up a respectable 47 points in 62 games, but it was tough to figure out what he was. Rimouski tried him at centre and on the wings and shuffled him up and down the lineup repeatedly, which wasn’t ideal for a player who had just come from overseas.
Really, his season was hovering around average, but factoring in the circumstances, you could expect more to come.
Zavgorodniy was the QMJHL’s breakout player in the opening few games, taking the early lead in the scoring race. Through his first 15 games, he had picked up 26 points and already had three individual four point games by that point in the season.
Then, he fell off. Part of that was circumstance. With Alexis Lafreniere on the team (105 points in 60 games a year away from his draft), the top LW spot was permanently locked down, making it harder for Zavgorodniy to put up absurd numbers in a reduced role with less talented teammates. This issue was accentuated later in the season, as Rimouski loaded up for the playoffs, bumping Zavgorodniy down from the second to the third line.
Part of that was that he just slowed down. Of course, it’s hard to keep up a two PPG pace through even short segments of the season, but he found it difficult to consistently get on the scoresheet. He would have his bursts, but often times follow it up with two games where he didn’t pick up a point.
Zavgorodniy would also play a big part on Russia’s team in the CHL-Russia series, scoring the game tying goal in the dying minutes against the QMJHL and grabbing an assist on the OT winner to seal Russia’s series victory. However, this did not translate to a World Juniors appearance.
Resilient Russians tie late and win 🇷🇺@NHLFlames prospect @Zavgar17 of @oceanicrimouski scores in final 14 seconds then assists on OT winner vs @QMJHL to put a stamp on @russiahockey_en victory in 2018 @CIBC #CANvsRUS. pic.twitter.com/D6l1hNNEMD
— CanadianHockeyLeague (@CHLHockey) November 16, 2018
Numbers & Growth
|GP||G||A||P||5v5 points||Primary points||5v5 Primary points||NHLe|
Zavgorodniy’s dropoff is pretty evident in the charts. At one point in the season, he was stringing together multi-point games. Then those multi-point games became rare and he got bumped down the lineup.
But he was still effective when the spotlight wasn’t on him. Despite only seeing a 17 point increase from the season previous, Zavgorodniy picked up 19 more primary points. His 5v5 primary points went up despite his total number of 5v5 points dropping. While he did struggle being a primary offensive generator in his first season, he seems to have turned that corner this season.
His special teams work also deserves some applause. His powerplay work, despite being bumped from PP1 to PP2 (and away from superstar-in-waiting Alexis Lafreniere) midway through the season, was pretty special, but his shorthanded work is outstanding. He lead Rimouski with five shorthanded points, three of them being goals. It speaks to his speed, hockey IQ, and great defensive work, which are some of the unheralded parts of Zavgorodniy’s game.
— #LHJMQ50 (@LHJMQ) February 3, 2019
To further hammer that point, Zavgorodniy had an absurd 68% 5v5 GF, and a +6.12 GFrel% according to prospect-stats. That’s him being on ice for 51 5v5 goals for and 24 against.
In 2017-18, Zavgorodniy would be a huge reward if he panned out. Only 7% of players with similar all situations production went to the NHL full time, but most became middle six players, scoring around 0.55 PPG (45 points over 82 games). Considering 5v5 scoring exclusively, 4% went to the NHL, scoring around 0.41 PPG (33 per 82 games). Looking at players who matched him in both AS and 5v5 scoring, 7% made the NHL, but scored at a 0.67 PPG clip (55 per 82). If Zavgorodniy made the big leagues, he would likely be an important player on whatever team he would play on.
For 2018-19, Zavgorodniy’s numbers dropped to straight bust. Only 2% of similar scorers at either AS or 5v5 made the NHL, scoring at 0.28 and 0.3 PPG rates respectively. No players who matched Zavgorodniy in both categories made the NHL. Not a great indication.
Again, the circumstances of Zavgorodniy’s season play into this. When you’re playing on a loaded team with a guaranteed superstar in the same position as you, your numbers aren’t going to be as great. There’s much more to like about Zavgorodniy’s game that I would take these numbers with more than a few grains of salt.
Zavgorodniy isn’t eligible for any other North American league besides the NHL and QMJHL. I doubt he’ll make the NHL, and it’s unlikely he flees for Russia as he does have a contract with the Flames, so he’ll be back with Rimouski.
Hopefully, he can stick around as an important part of the Oceanic offence. Zavgorodniy clearly has his moments where he looks like an absolute superstar, but it’s a matter of being consistent with those talents. He can clearly contribute at all areas on the ice, he just needs to do that for more than a few games at a time.
Rimouski will be in overager trouble next season. They have 12 players born in 1999, eight of them forwards, and need to cut that number down to three. Zavgorodniy will be relied upon to fill the void. With his ELC out of the way, it’s not as if this next season is do-or-die like it was for teammate D’Artagnan Joly, but it would be extremely promising if he could put all of his talents together and have a dominant final junior season.