Dynamic, creative Russian forward Ivan Demidov is one of the most skilled players in the 2024 draft

Photo credit:Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
1 month ago
There’s a ton of hockey talent in Russia. Every year, there seems to be one Russian forward that gets scouts throughout the hockey world out of their seats exclaiming “Wow, that kid is good!” Last year, there was Matvei Michkov. This year, Ivan Demidov is the most highly-touted Russian in his draft class, and widely considered one of the top players in his age group from any country.
Considering the Calgary Flames’ desire for game-changing skill, Demidov could be a tantalizing prospect… if he’s still available when they pick.

Scouting report

A product of Sergiyev Posad, Russia – a bit northeast of Moscow – Demidov is a December 2005 birthday. He’s a left shot forward, primarily a winger (especially at higher levels of Russian hockey) but he’s also played a bit of centre, and he’s listed at 5’11” and 168 pounds.
Demidov initially came up through the Vityaz Podolsk system – the same club that produced Flames prospect Daniil Chechelev – but he moved onto the SKA St. Petersburg organization in 2021. As we see with a lot of high-end European talents, Demidov has frequently been playing well above his age level:
  • In 2020-21 (his 15-year-old season) he bounced between under-16, under-17 and under-18 leagues.
  • In 2021-22 (his 16-year-old season) he split the year between under-17 and under-20 hockey and represented his country at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, winning gold.
  • In 2022-23 (his 17-year-old season), he played primarily in under-20 hockey, but he also made his pro debut with three games in the KHL.
  • In 2023-24 (his 18-year-old season), he played primarily in under-20 hockey, but also spent five games in pro split between the KHL and the second-tier VHL.
In each of the past two seasons, Demidov was named the most valuable player in Russia’s top under-20 league, the MHL.
Writing back in August, our pal Steven Ellis at Daily Faceoff broke down Demidov’s game:
From a styilistic perspective, Demidov has so much going for him. He’s extremely creative, has quick hands, is good on his feet and makes smart decisions with the puck. Demidov will beat players with a stutter-step move that leaves a defenseman confused, and his release is incredible deceptive, in a few ways. He’ll lull you into thinking he’s going up high before beating a goaltender between the legs. Other times, he’ll wind up before purposely shooting much softer. Scouts love his release, but it’s how he chooses to use it that makes him difficult to stop.
Over at Dobber Prospects, Sebastian High wrote a really detailed scouting report back in April, referring to Demidov as “the most dynamic, versatile, and creative handler we’ve seen come through the draft in recent years“:
While he will still need to learn to calibrate his risk-assessment gauge when he makes the leap to professional competition, he has already begun to integrate increased give-and-go’s and use of his linemates as the MHL season has progressed. Elements of his on-puck decision-making remain raw, but his upside as a 100-point top-line winger is supported by decent off-puck and defensive engagement and lightning-quick processing of the game. Some areas of his game that will require refinement before he can fully unlock that upside include his footspeed, use of his outside edges, lower body explosiveness, and rooting himself when engaged in puck battles. His elite-level of on-puck intelligence and his trifecta of dynamic handling, playmaking, and goalscoring tools give him the foundation to become an electrifying creative force and offensive driver.
Demidov hasn’t played very much in the KHL, but in 99 games in the MHL, he has 52 goals and 145 points… and he actually scores at a higher rate in the post-season. The kid can flat-out score, and that’s something every NHL team will take notice of.

The numbers

In 2023-24, Demidov registered 23 goals and 37 assists for 60 points in 30 MHL regular season games. He added 11 goals and 17 assists for 28 points in 17 playoff games. (He had zero points in four KHL games and one VHL game.)
He finished four points behind Ivan Volgin for the MHL’s points lead – in 24 fewer games than Volgin – and finished just outside the top 10 in the MHL in goals. (And again, everybody who scored more goals than him played between 10 and 24 more games than him.) He was three assists behind Volgin for the league lead, too. On a per-game basis, nobody could touch Demidov’s offensive production.
Demidov led the playoffs in goals and points, and was one assist behind Yegor Surin for the league lead in that category, too. He led SKA-1946 St. Petersburg to a MHL post-season championship.

Availability and fit

Demidov is a highly skilled offensive player. If he was a centre, he’d fit the Flames’ needs almost perfectly. The Flames have a lot of really good forward prospects on the wings – guys like Samuel Honzek, Jakob Pelletier, Matt Coronato and William Strömgren – and arguably their best young players (Connor Zary and Martin Pospisil) are wingers. Adding Demidov could add to the winger logjam… but he’s also really good, so I think you’d probably risk it.
Similarly, while the occasionally fraught relationship between Russia and the rest of the hockey world has led to the dubbing of “the Russian factor” regarding uncertainty that Russian players may come over, the Flames have stocked their cupboards with Russians over the past little while and haven’t really had any issues. Demidov reportedly has contractual obligations to SKA for 2024-25, but there could be some flexibility after that.
The problem for the Flames will probably be caused more by other NHL teams loving Demidov. If you look at draft rankings, he’s commonly listed at second or third across most public rankings. Heck, the lowest we’ve seen him slide to is sixth. The Flames draft ninth. It seems improbable that Demidov slides to them.
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