While the Devils may have a set list for who they could pick at second overall, who will be left for afterwards? Today’s profile is for Alexander Perevalov, a prospect who has generally been ranked pretty high, with an average somewhere around the second round.
Who is Alexander Perevalov?
Alexander Perevalov was born on April 16, 2004 in Mezhdurechensk, Russia. He is a right-handed shot who exclusively plays left wing. Like many Russian scoring wingers before him, Perevalov prefers the off-hand side, and he makes it work with speed. Perevalov is under contract to Lokomotiv Yaroslavl until 2024. They posted an interview with him recently, translated onto their English website. Alexander touches on the difficulties of playing hockey in Russia, including financial problems for other teams - and the resulting decision to join Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. When asked about the difficulty of his move from a hockey perspective, Alexander said:
It was difficult. I used to score more goals in Siberia/Far East Division. Everything is faster over here and there’s a lot of tactics involved. My coach, Sergei Nikolayevich Bykov, really helped me. I would get disappointed when I couldn’t score but he would support me every time. He would tell me, Don’t worry, it’s going to come.
Additionally, Perevalov told his interviewer that he understands English, having spoken English at previous tournaments. He credits his understanding of English to school, music, and the PC video game Counter-Strike. Perevalov also noted how excited he would get when his mother would be able to converse with foreigners in English, which motivated him to learn the language. With that said, let’s move on to his production profile. Below is his Elite Prospects page:
Perevalov’s big year came in the MHL, the Russian junior affiliates for KHL clubs. I was wondering why he was not given a shot in the VHL (the KHL’s AHL-equivalent league), but I found out that Lokomotiv folded their VHL team almost 10 years ago. Standing a 6’0” and 192 pounds, Perevalov is physically ready for the jump to men’s hockey. And while Perevalov might have benefitted in Draft Position with more KHL games, I can appreciate Lokomotiv preferring to give their star prospect more minutes at the junior level.
Also as a result of their decision to keep him in juniors is a less-than-stellar projection profile. Byron Bader’s model has Perevalov at a 60% NHLer probability and 23% star probability, with a top draft year production comparison with Rene Corbet. Corbet only played 362 NHL games. Perevalov’s other draft year comps include Martin St. Louis, though - so this is a sort of medium-risk, high-reward type of situation. This is largely based off of his big season in the MHL, as his NHLe jumped 24 points from his age-17 season to his age-18 season. Had Perevalov had better priors, I imagine his probabilities would be much higher.
Where is Perevalov ranked?
- Ranked #14 by NHL Central Scouting (EU Skaters)
- Ranked #16 by TSN - Craig Button
- Ranked #24 by TSN - Bob McKenzie (Midseason)
- Ranked #25 by McKeen’s Hockey
- Ranked #26 by Sportsnet
- Ranked #31 by Consolidated Ranking
- Ranked #38 by Puck Authority
- Ranked #42 by FC Hockey
- Ranked #50 by Dobber Prospects
- Ranked #95 by Elite Prospects
- Ranked #101 by Smaht Scouting
To me, it’s almost never a good sign when there is a huge range and TSN scouts are the ones giving the most favorable rankings. However, when it comes to Russian skaters and Europeans in general, it seems to me international players tend to be ranked lower when they’re a bit less known than other players in the Draft. North American bias often affects evaluation of these types of players. Perevalov did not get any opportunity to play in U20 international competitions, so that may be another thing harming his perception among his disbelievers. Finding commonality between his profiles and his tape takes extra importance when a player is ranked as high as the first round and as low as the fourth.
What Others Say About Perevalov
In January, Steve Kournianos at The Draft Analyst wrote his profile on Perevalov. He was much more a fan of Perevalov than certain other internet scouts, as he ranked Perevalov 12th at the time. Kournianos wrote on Perevalov’s defensive game:
Perevalov is one of the best 200-foot forwards available in the draft, and an argument can be that made that his 1-on-1 defensive play is unmatched within his year group. His competitiveness keeps him involved in plays deep into shifts, with plenty left in the tank to spearhead a counterattack. There will be times when Perevalov may appear to be cherry picking, but these scenarios lean more towards an anticipation of a possession change and potential breakaway opportunity rather than avoiding contact or skirting hard work, which is never the case with him.
Kournianos also writes that Perevalov had been on the top penalty killing unit for Loko Yaroslavl, which resulted in a rather aggressive kill that had his team counterattacking with odd-man rushes regularly. He also notes that Perevalov does not shy away from contact and that he is relentless on the forecheck. All this sounds great to me.
Ben Kerr at Last Word on Sports also did a profile on Perevalov. Kerr also notes at the very beginning of his profile that Perevalov’s two-way game “is based on his excellent skating ability.” Through his speed, he is able to burn defenses on the breakaway, cause problems on rushes, and quickly retreat to his defensive zone on the backcheck. Kerr generally seems to align with Kournianos’ expectation that Perevalov will be a two-way winger, though Kerr seems more interested in the offensive side. On that, he writes,
Perevalov is a pure sniper. He has an excellent array of shots. Perevalov can score with his powerful wrist shots, snapshots, as well as his slap shots and one-timers. He has a quick release. With his quick hands, he can execute a toe-drag and release the puck from a different angle as well. This creates real issues for goalies who are often fooled by the release. Perevalov can also score in tight to the net. He has soft hands and can dangle a goalie and elevate the puck in tight. He also can score on rebounds, quick one-timers, and deflections in tight to the net. As he gets stronger, he should even get better in these areas.
On the other hand, Kerr is not as impressed by Perevalov’s decision making with the puck, as well as his vision while making passes. Kerr notes that his hesitance with puck movement can sometimes cause plays to go by the wayside because of indecision. That could be a problem, and Kerr indicates that it could prevent Perevalov from becoming a true top six winger.
Video of Perevalov
First, we will be taking a look at a collection of shifts from three games. Thanks to AMScouting for posting this. As noted in the title, Perevalov is wearing #76.
The first takeaway I can see in the video is his speed. Perevalov seems to just get moving at a higher speed than everyone around him. What’s impressive is how cleanly he builds up that speed - I see very little effort to get to top speed, and his strides re very minimal once he gets there.
Perevalov scores a goal in the play around the 1:45 mark. As a right-handed shot who plays left wing, Perevalov takes the left circle in the all-offhand power play. He winds for a shot at the top of the circle - and while it does not seem blistering, it is a well placed shot through a moving screen that seems to be under the glove.
A play in this video everyone should like begins at 2:35. As SKA is entering the offensive zone, Perevalov trails on the backcheck. SKA misses on a drop pass, and Perevalov the greater momentum toward the puck but has more distance to it than his SKA opponent. Since he cannot reach the puck in time, Perevalov throws the body, separating his opponent from the puck. Perevalov then has a three-on-two which he shoots into the glove.
The second game shown, beginning at 3:15, shows Perevalov’s skating abilities again. He does not get up to top speed, instead slowing down to try threading the needle on the rush - but the edgework he displays behind the net is impressive. Check 3:24 as Perevalov turns his body around the referee to backpedal behind the net. With a oncoming defender ready to check him, Perevalov swipes the puck toward himself and turns his body away in a fluid motion, protecting himself and the puck as he skates out from behind the net - but he misses on a pass and turns the puck over.
Perevalov scores again at the 5:08 mark. After his teammate takes on nearly the entire opposition to gain the zone, he flips the puck toward the goalie. An opponent falls back and kicks the puck into the slot, and Perevalov makes no mistake. The goalie is confused, the defender is down, and Perevalov hits his shot.
Perevalov’s final goal of the video comes at the 7:55 mark. After Dinamo Riga clears their defensive zone, Perevalov picks off the puck in stride. Two Riga forwards overskate Perevalov as a simple deke puts a defender at the blueline on his back. Perevalov walks in and snipes from the inner edge of the faceoff circle. Again, Perevalov’s speed and the ability to be in the right place at the right time creates scoring opportunities and goals. The cherry on top is the huge hit in the offensive zone that Perevalov throws in the highlighted shift immediately following.
Next, we have a video from Prospect Film Room. This is a more traditonal highlight video.
On the first goal (which he assisted on), I am a fan of how well Perevalov applies himself in the defensive zone before play is turned the other way. Here is a guy who understands that good defense leads to offensive opportunities. The second goal in the video, at 2:05, is absolutely ridiculous. With multiple defensemen coming for him at the side of the net and the goalie trying to cover the puck, Perevalov finds the seam and scores through the five hole.
My Opinion on Perevalov
I have to wonder what was going through people’s heads when they ranked this guy in the fourth round. I see some of the problems that might make him too much of a gamble for the first round, but Perevalov is a second-round prospect at worst. He could be great, as I see a lot of stylistic similarities between Perevalov and Yegor Sharangovich. Both generate their greatest offensive chances from their legs, and I think they even have similar skating strides. The smooth quickness, the fluid movement that lets them cut in or out - sometimes taking a defender down along the way - and then the shot. Perevalov does not have Sharangovich’s clean and crisp shot, though. It’s good, but not that good...but he knows how to use it. That could be the most important thing to note - Perevalov clearly has a mind for the game a couple of steps above his juniors competition.
I do not have a good read on where Perevalov will be picked. If I were tying to be objective, I would call him an early second round prospect. I would expect any first rounder from Russia to have played for their U20 squad in international competitions or for them to have played in the KHL. However, I would not be mad at any GM for picking him in the late first round, as I think he has the talent to back it up. He could certainly improve as a playmaker and in being safer with the puck, but that’s something he can work on.
Something prospects often cannot improve to enough of an extent is skating. Perevalov does not need to worry about that. He could lace up in the NHL right now and be one of the better skaters on the ice. It would be one thing if you worried about their hockey sense or their skill to such a degree (*cough* Chase Stillman *cough*) that they cannot make a professional impact. But Alexander Perevalov already has keen defensive instincts and the desire to score every time he touches the puck, with skill to back it up. The reason Perevalov is not a top-15 prospect is because he did not prove himself at a higher level or in World Juniors. The improvements he needs to make are slight, and I think easily coachable. Therefore, I would highly recommend that Alexander Perevalov be a part of any GM’s board, with a range between late-first and mid-second.
As for the New Jersey Devils, Perevalov would continue what other skaters bring to the table with his high-end skating while contributing better potential for accurate and effective shooting. And while he may not be as physical as someone like Fabian Zetterlund - who I think will be an excellent winger in the near future - Perevalov regularly fights through contact with the puck and does not seem to pass on opportunities to take opponents out of the play with well-timed, opportunistic hits. He may not fill a dire need for the Devils, but you have to consider the skillset and ability if he is available in the second round. Alexander Perevalov has a drive to improve, compete, and win: and I would be happy if the Devils drafted him.
What do you think of Alexander Perevalov? Would you be interested in picking him? Whose draft rankings do you agree with most? Those who had him in the first, second, third, or fourth round? If you watched his video, who does he most remind you of? What do you make of the bias in considering Canadian juniors play compared to Russian juniors play? Leave your thoughts in the comments below, and thanks for reading.