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Semyon Der-Arguchintsev: 2018 NHL Draft Prospect Profile | A Project with High-End Playmaking Potential

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Semyon Der-Arguchintsev will be this year’s youngest draft eligible player on the board and has some progress to make before being ready for the next level. But he also has some potentially top-end playmaking abilities and could be a smart value pick for a team in the mid-to-late rounds.

Barrie Colts v Peterborough Petes Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images

Who is Semyon Der-Arguchintsev?

Semyon Der-Arguchintsev is a smaller, playmaking forward currently playing his junior hockey with the OHL’s Peterborough Petes. Der-Arguchintsev was born in Moscow, Russia but has been playing his hockey in Canada since at least the 2014-15 season, coming up through the bantam and midget levels before jumping to CHL major junior in 2016-17. Der-Arguchintsev, who is often referred to as “SDA” likely due to his mouthful of a name, was born September 15, 2000, which is also known as the cutoff date for the 2018 NHL Draft. That makes Der-Arguchintsev the youngest (or at least tied for the youngest) eligible player likely to be selected in this year’s draft. His Elite Prospects player page has him listed at 5’-10” and 159 pounds, meaning he is definitely on the small side of things.

As a player, reading about him and watching him will immediately reveal what his draw is as a prospect: he can flat-out pass the puck. Despite being small and the youngest player in this draft, Der-Arguchintsev has a very good chance of being selected based on his abilities as a playmaker. The numbers certainly don’t leap off the screen for a forward, with 51 points in 68 games in his draft season, but his 39 assists are pretty good for a young player on a bad Peterborough team that finished third-to-last in the entire OHL this past season. His reputation as a very good playmaker is tempered a bit though by some of the shortcomings in his game, most notably his reported lack of a physical game. His shot and goal totals also aren’t that impressive, as he seems to look for the pass as option one before shooting for the most part. But while he needs to get bigger and round his game out, there is a clear consensus that his vision and passing skills are very good and make him an intriguing prospect. Career stat lines from Elite Prospects are shown below:

via EliteProspects.com

Where is Semyon Der-Arguchintsev Ranked?

Der-Arguchintsev is definitely the type of a prospect who is going to garner a lot of different opinions, as he is definitely a bit of the “project” type, and not someone likely to be ready in the next couple years. The rankings vary widely, with Central Scouting ranking him in effectively the fourth round range, Steve Kournianos of the Draft Analyst and the Sporting News putting him way back in the 200s, and Corey Pronman of the Athletic putting him in his top-30. Other draft guides have him outside of their publicly available rankings, but third-party sources have them putting him somewhere in the mid-to-late rounds of the draft. A sampling of available rankings is below.

  • NHL Central Scouting: NA-82
  • The Draft Analyst: 223
  • Future Considerations: N/A (Top 100)
  • The Athletic - Pronman: 25
  • ISS: N/A (Top 31)
  • McKeens: N/A (Top 31)

What Others are Saying About Der-Arguchintsev

Der-Arguchintsev being a prospect out of the OHL means a good place to start figuring out what he’s all about is Brock Otten’s OHL Prospects blog. Otten wrote about SDA in his final Top 50 OHL players ranking, where he had him at number 23. Basically, he has physical limitations for now, but he is full of potential with the way he sees the ice. Some excerpts:

This guy creates so much time and space for himself by keeping the puck on a string, spinning off checks along the wall and prolonging zone time. Strength is definitely an issue, but he’s also the youngest player eligible this year (Sept. 15 birthday) and it’s scary to think about how good he could be offensively once his conditioning improves. Those 39 assists on a poor Peterborough team really stand out as a positive.

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He’s not slow, but without question, SDA relies on his hands and skill to create elusiveness rather than his feet. It explains why he’s not more of a factor creating off the rush. If that speed improves, it would really add that dynamic ability to his game.

So while he lacks size and has relatively average speed, the phrase “it’s scary to think how good he could be” is one I am personally a fan of if I am looking for reasons to take a chance on a project player. But he is definitely a project and it’s hard to guess how a player will develop sometimes. This sentiment is going to be echoed a lot in his profiles, and it’s clear that Der-Arguchintsev is some distance from being NHL ready, even when just looking at his production, but he has some definite skill when it comes to distributing the puck and the recognition of that seems to be universal.

At our sister SB Nation blog Habs Eyes on the Prize, they put together a really good profile on Der-Arguchintsev. Writer David St-Louis is very high on the young Russian and makes a good case for him. Some exerpts are below but the whole profile is worth a read (it even includes some nice video breakdowns).

Der-Arguchintsev is a true playmaker. He showcases a great vision of the ice and is constantly seen, with or without possession, looking around and planning ahead to find the best target for his passes, enabling him to set up quick and dangerous scoring chances. He can make one-touch feeds to get the puck through traffic quickly, but is also able to create passing lanes by deceiving defenders just as easily.

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What greatly helps his playmaking tendencies is his precise control of the puck. He has shifty hands and is a very good stickhandler in tight spaces. He can come out of a scrum with the puck strictly by having found the small opening where it will fit through. He also smartly uses stick lifts in combination with his handling to prevent others from taking possession away from him.

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The forward’s game is not devoid of weaknesses. In the last available tests, Der-Arguchintsev was measured at 5’10” and 159 pounds, which provides an explanation as to why he can get outmuscled on the boards; something that definitely plays against him at both ends of the ice. In possession, he is elusive and uses good body positioning to protect the puck against back pressure, but, unfortunately, it wasn’t always enough this season.

There’s a bunch more there, but I think this captures some of the main takeaways. Der-Arguchintsev is a very talented playmaker and his skill with the puck is hard to discount. With his current size and physical game, he can get pushed around at times and he doesn’t have blinding speed either, and while he has a decent shot, he could stand to shoot it more. But the conclusion of the EotP profile is that Der-Arguchintsev has the skill to overcome all of that and would be a worthy selection as high as the second round based on his potential.

Continuing along, we next go to blog OHL Writers, where Dominic Tiano did this profile of Der-Arguchintsev in March and which builds on some of the things we’ve heard elsewhere. Again the fact that Der-Arguchintsev sees the ice so well and is a gifted passer is the big takeaway along with the fact that his size is currently a limitation. Some bits from that:

Der-Arguchintsev is more of a playmaker than a shooter. His 9 goals come on 83 shots (10.8%) so it’s not like he doesn’t possess some goal scoring ability, but his low shot total suggests that he looks to make a play before he shoots himself. The eye test will draw the same conclusions. That’s not a bad thing as long as you are playing with a sniper. He currently sits tenth among draft eligible players in assists.

Adding some much-needed muscle is important for Der-Arguchintsev. He has difficulty fighting through checks, winning puck battles and the strength to get to those hard areas.

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Der-Arguchintsev has excellent vision and is an extremely skilled passer. Finding lanes and making tape-to-tape passes is his bread and butter. If he can improve on his skating, he could create more space for himself and with that comes more opportunity.

This is consistent with the other profiles, though Tiano is perhaps not quite as high on him, wondering if he projects as more than a power play specialist. A lot of the highlighted strengths are the same as in other profiles. He is clearly a gifted passer and a guy worth taking a look at on draft day.

Corey Pronman of the Athletic, as indicated by where he ended up ranking him, is very high on Der-Arguchintsev. I won’t quote much so as to respect the Athletic’s pay wall, but I do want to highlight this comment, because it’s an interesting one for a guy that the consensus seems to have closer to the fourth or fifth round:

He’s one of the best playmakers in the class, who can flash elite vision, is very patient and looks to make plays to his teammates.

Pronman goes on to point out that his physical game needs a lot of work, but calling a guy one of the drafts best playmakers is pretty high praise, particularly for a guy who is largely projected to slip into the later rounds of the draft. There may be enough risk attached to Der-Arguchintsev to push him to the later rounds of the draft, but there also seems to be serious potential.

A Little Video

We’ll start with this video from Hockey Prospects Center, which highlights a lot of Der-Arguchintsev’s assists this year and clearly shows his talent as a passer. It also shows some examples of Der-Arguchintsev’s shot, which despite its limited use, seems pretty decent.

Here’s another highlights package pulled together by RinksideView (the same person who put together the profile over at Habs EotP). There are a bunch of good looks at just how good of a passer Der-Arguchintsev can be. He displays a lot of patience and the ability to effectively thread lanes once they do actually open up.

An Opinion of Sorts

Semyon Der-Arguchintsev is a player who carries with him a lot of potential, but is also very clearly not ready for NHL-level hockey. The latter half of that statement will likely prevent him from coming off the board in the earlier rounds of the draft, but the former half will make him an alluring prospect once draft enters its middle rounds. Many aspects of players’ games can be improved or worked on by teams after they are selected, but high end skill is tough to manufacture. Der-Arguchintsev is a player who can clearly see the game at a high level and has the patience and passing skill to make plays happen that otherwise might not be there. He is a young player and if he can continue to develop he could, and I’ll quote Brock Otten on this one, be “the type of pick you make in the 3rd or 4th round and perhaps look like a genius.”

There are, of course, shortcomings in his game right now that might give teams pause on draft day. Size, as ever, is a factor that teams will weigh in their evaluations and his trouble along the boards and in puck battles does present a possible issue at the next level. The fact that he doesn’t have blazing speed will also impact his stock since he has that aforementioned small frame. His production also wasn’t overly impressive in this past year where he seems like a slam dunk. His status as the draft’s youngest eligible player is a big mitigating factor to mefor some of those issues, though — particularly the physical game. Perhaps he is a “boom or bust” pick in some sense but, in the mid-to-later rounds especially, teams should, in my opinion, be a lot more worried about the “boom” half of that equation. If the Devils take him in the fourth round or later, I would definitely be on board. If the Devils trade back and grab a third round pick, I’d even be in favor of them taking a look in his direction then. He’s a project for sure, but there seems to be some potential for a special playmaker in Der-Arguchintsev, so I’d say he’d be worth spending a pick on.

Your Take

After reading about him, what are your thoughs on Semyon Der-Arguchintsev as a prospect? Do you have my same takeaways from what’s out there in profiles and videos? Or are you less inclined to take a chance on a player like this? Sound off with your thoughts in the comments below and thanks for reading.