The middle of the 2016 NHL Draft continues on as the picks keep coming fast and possibly furious. For their first pick of the fourth round, the Devils selected Mikhail Maltsev out of the Russian U-18 team of the MHL with the one hundred and second overall pick.
My initial reaction is, well, who is this guy? For whatever reason, the growth of hockey writing online has not really led to more available coverage on Russian players playing in Russia. According to Elite Prospects, Maltsev was loaned to the Russian U-18 team for the season, presumably by SKA St. Petersburg, his parent club. He's certainly a big guy. EP has him at 6'3" and 198 pounds. He played left wing and he's got a left-handed shot.
He also apparently had a good tournament at the World Junior A Championship, an under-19 tournament. Here's some video on that by, who else, bigwhite06. Maltsev is wearing #11:
Maltsev certainly stood out. I like his forechecking as much as I like his shot in the clip.
In terms of profiles, I will note that Steve Kournianos had Maltsev going 75th in his mock draft. Here's what he wrote about the winger:
One of the draft’s few two-way centers with size who tips more towards the grinder side than that of a pivot with pure skill. Maltsev did a fine job as Team Russia’s second-line center behind German Rubtsov, using his size/reach advantage to really give opponents the business. He can play an in-your-face style and uses good speed to get in on the forecheck without over-committing or leaving his linemates out to dry. At 6’3, 200 pounds, it’s scary to think that he can get bigger, hopefully without costing him in the mobility department. On the power play, he likes to acquiesce to his gifted puck distributors and take a spot near or directly behind the net. Maltsev is very good on faceoffs, which is probably the reason he’s playing with the man advantage to begin with.
Now this is very interesting. Kournianos saw him play center and though he did well at it. That's good to know. Being aggressive without over-committing or being a net negative on his team is also good to know. This short section makes me think that his upside would be someone to play in the middle of a forward group. That I think he could do it and he was picked in the fourth round is quite nice. So that's good to know. But until he comes to North America or plays in a more-followed league like the KHL, there will be some level of "Who is this guy?" We'll see if that answer comes soon.
All the same, regardless of my initial thoughts. I welcome Mikhail Maltsev to the New Jersey Devils organization. I wish him the best of luck in his development within the organization.
Now I want to know your thoughts. Please have your say about the pick in the comments. Do you think it was a good pick or not and why? What do you expect this player will become for the Devils? Of course, don't forget to vote in our quick poll on the selection. Thank you for reading.