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2024 NHL Draft prospect Nikita Artamonov is a tenacious forechecker

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Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
11 days ago
This article is brought to you by bet365.
The Calgary Flames have a lot of draft picks in the 2024 NHL Draft. Having a lot of draft selections could allow them to take a bunch of different types of players from a lot of different places. Quietly one of the more exciting prospects in the 2024 class is Russian winger Nikita Artamonov, who had one of the best draft eligible seasons in the history of the Kontinental Hockey League.

Scouting report

Artamonov is a product of Nizhnekamsk, Russia – one of the hardest places to consistently spell correctly – and he’s a November 2005 birthday, making him one of the older first-time draft eligible players in the 2024 class. He’s a left shot winger listed at 5’11” and 187 pounds.
Artamonov came up through hockey with his hometown team, playing within the Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk system. He was traded to Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod in September 2022. He made his KHL debut with Torpedo during the 2022-23 season and was part of their junior team in the MHL that won their league’s playoff tournament that season.
As part of a scouting notebook he published in October 2023, The Hockey News’ Tony Ferrari had this feedback regarding Artamonov’s game:
It’s not often a player plays a significant role for a KHL team in their draft year, so when they do, it’s notable. It’s even less often that a player looks like the most effective player on his line or pairing at the KHL level, but Artamonov has done exactly that… His production in the KHL should have people on notice, but it’s his play on and off the puck that impresses the most.
Dobber Prospects’ Graham Montgomery broke down Artamonov’s game in detail in November:
Nikita Artamanov is the definition of ‘he’s got that dog in him.’ He is often the hardest-working player on the ice, getting stuck into battles with men twice his age playing in the KHL. His tenacious presence on the forecheck often leads to turnovers which he quickly turns into scoring chances with accurate passes. He is a legitimately dangerous playmaker thanks to his precise puck handling and ability to get passes through lanes. He also has a strong understanding of space and timing, particularly in the offensive zone. This puts him in a good position to score on a regular basis although his finishing is only about average. His strong work ethic allows him to overcome an inefficient stride that ultimately limits his top speed. That being said, improvements in his skating technique could unlock more upside in transition.
As part of Smaht Scouting’s April 2024 rankings, Alex Appleyard had this summary of Artamonov’s appeal:
Artamonov belies the outdated stereotype of the skilled, Russian winger who only plays in the offensive zone. He is an energiser bunny. Voracious on the fore-check, diligent in the defensive zone, with an active stick that constantly disrupts lanes. Furthermore, while no-one would mistake him for a physical player, he is more than happy to go to the corners or net-front. However, he is not just an “energy” player. He is a great skater and a fantastic passer, alongside this his ability to get free ice in the offensive zone is exceptional. The downsides? He is not the most “creative” player, his hands are quite average and he could use his solid shot more than he does. Nevertheless, Artamonov has the potential to be a 70+ point, two-way winger in the NHL if he keeps developing.
Artamonov is signed with Torpedo for another two seasons, through 2025-26. With the lack of a IIHF transfer agreement with Russia, that’s a complicating factor with selecting him. Nonetheless: he’s really good, and the stuff he’s good at – pace, awareness, forechecking – is the kind of stuff that tends to help players translate to the North American game effectively.

The numbers

Artamonov played two games in junior in 2023-24, scoring one goal. He spent most of his time in the KHL, where he had seven goals and 16 assists for 23 points in 54 games.
He ranked third among all junior-aged KHLers in points – trailing only Matvei Michkov and Mikhail Ilyin – and he led all first-year draft eligible players in the KHL in goals, assists and points. Only Anton Silayev had more games played among first-year draft eligible KHLers.
With 23 points over 54 games, Artamonov had the fourth-most points-per-game for a draft eligible player in KHL history. Only Michkov, Vladimir Tarasenko and Artemi Panarin had more productive draft years in the K than Artamonov.

Availability and fit

Artamonov is a versatile forward that can play either wing and has a strong forecheck and pace to his game. He brings an element that the Flames don’t have a ton of within their system, and with him under KHL contract for another couple seasons, he wouldn’t be hitting their entry-level system for awhile. He would be a longer-term prospect, but evidence suggests he would be worth the wait. (And it’s been established that Craig Conroy has added a bunch of Russians to the organization, so Artamonov would have a support system if he joined them.)
In terms of availability, he’s a consensus pick somewhere in the back half of the first round. He appears as early as the late teens on some draft rankings and as late as the early second round on other rankings, but typically he appears somewhere in the 20s. With the Flames holding the 28th overall pick, he could potentially be available when they select for the second time in the first round.

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