14Dmitry Zavgorodniy
Photo Credit: Terry Wilson/CHL Images

FlamesNation Top 20 Prospects 2019: #7 Dmitry Zavgorodniy

From seventh rounder a year ago, to number seven on our annual top 20, Dmitry Zavgorodniy has been a fast riser through the Flames organization.

The pint-sized – 5’9″, 174 lbs – the Russian left winger can make a name for himself in the Flames organization as one of the rare right handed players with some offensive gifts. However, despite being touted for his offensive potential, he has yet to fully realize that during his time in North America.

How did we get here?

Zavgorodniy has been an exciting offensive prospect since his days in Russia, entering the scene by picking up 88 points in 36 U16 games at age 15, and doubled down on those stupefying numbers by putting up 46 in 21 the next season in the U17 league. He also got his first taste of serious hockey that season, picking up 12 points in 15 games for Omsk’s MHL team (Russia’s third league – kinda equivalent to the CHL).

Instead of continuing to climb the ladder in Russian hockey, Zavgorodniy decided to come overseas and try to crack hockey’s biggest league. After being selected eighth overall in the CHL import draft by the Rimouski Oceanic, he put together a strong draft season with 26 goals and 47 points in 62 games. That was enough to land in the top 100s for major scouting publications, but he slipped all the way to the 198th spot, where the Flames selected him.

Stats, numbers, and everything therein

Zavgorodniy made a mild improvement on his numbers from his draft season.

Games played Goals Assists Points
67 28 36 64

Part of the reason his numbers aren’t so great is that he plays the same position as the best player on his team, Alexis Lafreniere, who also just so happens to be the best player in the league. The superstar in waiting has locked up top line and top power play minutes, leaving Zavgorodniy with slightly limited options to strut his offensive stuff.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as Zavgorodniy does do a lot of good work with what he has to work with. He’s very strong at 5v5, picking up 22 5v5 primary points despite seeing a decrease in total 5v5 points (34). His special teams work isn’t too shabby either, picking up 22 points despite being bumped from PP1. He also found a niche on the penalty kill, picking up five shorthanded points, three of them being goals.

Zavgorodniy also made a minor appearance for Team Russia, facing off against his own league in the CHL-Russia Superseries. He picked up three points in two games, including the game tying goal in the deciding game and an assist on the game winner.

Those in the know 

QMJHL reporter for the Halifax Chronicle Herald Willy Palov offers his thoughts about where Zavgorodniy needs to improve to become a full-fledged pro:

As a small player, it is important he improve his speed. He needs to show more of a separation gear to make it to the next level. If at all possible, more of a physical dimension would also help.

Ditto, Hockey Prospect’s QMJHL scout, Jerome Berube:

Consistency & strength are my two main concerns with him once he becomes a pro. He’s a skilled player but not a high end skills guy either, he’s not been a point per game player in the QMJHL in 2 seasons now. He’s not also a guy you can put lower in your lineup because he’s limited physically and not really a standout player defensively. It’s a big year coming up for him as Rimouski wants to contend for the QMJHL championship in which will be Lafreniere most likely last season in the league. They need him to be more consistency and be an impact player offensively all year long.

On the horizon

Although he has an ELC, Zavgorodniy is going back to the QMJHL, barring him having an absolutely perfect preseason (he’s not old enough yet for the AHL).

It’s not a make-or-break year career-wise for Zavgorodniy, as it was for current teammate and former Flames prospect D’Artagnan Joly. Zavgorodniy already has a contract in hand, so regardless of how next season goes, he’ll still get at least three years in a Flames uniform. At least that pressure is off his back.

Even though he has some job security already, you’d like to see Zavgorodniy take that next step in the QMJHL. He’s shown his potential at times but nothing that really screams that he has a future in the NHL. Maybe circumstance plays into his numbers, but not being convincing enough to play up the lineup isn’t a good sign. It’d be excellent if he could unlock the budding phenom he was in Russia, but I think we’d all settle for a very productive year.

Previously

  • cjc

    Also, didn’t he start incredibly fast last year, then trail off? I feel like we were saying “Hey look, his numbers are almost as good as Lafreniere’s, and he’s not even on his line!” at one point.

    It’s sort of weird that a guy like Koumontzis – who has some pretty good comparables, played a big role for his team and played in a tougher league – gets ranked behind of Zav. I guess this has more to do with the mushy middle of the Flames current prospect pool than anything. I suspect when the final lists are revealed we’ll see a lot of variability in positions 8-16.

    • Heeeeere’s Johnny

      And less than elite skills. Sounds like a “I hope he surprises me and doesn’t miss” kind of candidate. Not holding my breath for this guy.

  • Jobu

    Hard to pin down. Playing in the Q should be inflating his numbers. Playing on the second line would certainly be reducing them. Hes small, not fast, and not physical, and yet somehow produces well at 5 on 5. He exploded out of the gate, and then slowed down substantially after (might have been line mates or responsibilities). Poor defensively, but plays (and scores) on the PK.

    Jobu’s hope is that playing in Laferniere’s shadow means that there is a lot more in this kids offensive tank than given credit for.

    Either way a 7th round pick shows already that it was totally worth the gamble.

  • Baalzamon

    Kind of odd he’s ranked ahead of Ruzicka considering the Slovak has decisively outperformed him in a better league. Nevertheless, I like Zav, and he was my second favorite pick from that draft class (my favorite, obviously, being Mathias Emilio Pettersen).

  • everton fc

    “Consistency & strength are my two main concerns with him once he becomes a pro. He’s a skilled player but not a high end skills guy either, he’s not been a point per game player in the QMJHL in 2 seasons now. He’s not also a guy you can put lower in your lineup because he’s limited physically and not really a standout player defensively. It’s a big year coming up for him as Rimouski wants to contend for the QMJHL championship in which will be Lafreniere most likely last season in the league. They need him to be more consistency and be an impact player offensively all year long.”

    So how can he be our #7 prospect? Wolf might have more upside, and he’s #14. ??

  • MDG1600

    Playing with Lafreniere but on a different line also means Zavgorodny never plays against the oppositions top defenders. I think Zav is a good 7th round pick but likely over rated at #7. I would consider Ruzicka, Pospisil, Yelesin and Tuulola all better prospects.

    • Baalzamon

      He has the tools but… unlikely. He scored 64 points (and under a PPG) at the same age Mangiapane had his first 100 point season. Mangiapane played in a better league, too.