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Gleb Trikozov: 2022 NHL Draft Prospect Profile; The Electric Hawksbill

Gleb Trikozov was a scoring machine for Omskie Yastreby of the MHL. He flashed a lot of talent that has some drooling over his potential, although some question his situation and effort. This post is a profile into the skilled forward.

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One of the great developments over the past decade in hockey online is the growth of prospect discussion. There are hobbyists, enthusiasts, and all-around interesting people taking a closer look at the next group of hockey talent more than ever. Some turn it into a business. Some parlay it into a job as a scout or with a larger organization. Some do it because they find a new way to look at a young man and come up with a way to determine whether or not they have a brighter future than it may seem on the surface. As a team’s scouts fall in love with some prospects, the enthusiasts do as well. And one of those names is the subject of today’s prospect profile: forward Gleb Trikozov.

Who is Gleb Trikozov?

As per his profile at Elite Prospects, Gleb Trikozov was born in Omsk on August 12, 2004, which makes him 17 and one of the youngest players in this year’s draft class. He is a right-hand shooting forward. His height is listed at 6’1” and his weight is at 185 pounds. Not a big man but definitely not small either. Trikozov grew up in Omsk and went through their youth teams over the years. In this past season, he primarily played for Omskie Yastreby (literally Omsk Hawksbills), which is Avangard Omsk’s MHL team. The MHL is the KHL’s junior league.

Trikozov has absolutely lit it up ever since the 2019-20 season. He captained Omsk’s U-16 team and dropped 18 goals and 31 points in 21 games; played five games and put up ten points with the U-18 team; and even played internationally at the U-16 level for Russia. In 2020-21, Trikozov crushed it at the youth levels with a bonkers 12 goals and 18 points in 9 games with the U-17 Omsk team along with a not-at-all-shabby four goals and six points in four games with the U-18s. The decision was made to let him try out the MHL. He was more than ready for it as indicated by his 15 goals and 30 points in 49 games with Omskie Yastreby. He finished fourth on the team in scoring. As a 16 year old. In the junior league. Points are not everything but putting up 30 in 49 games to finish fourth on the team as a (very) underage player means he was doing something right. Goodness.

Trikozov kept on finding the scoresheet in 2020-21. His debut in the MHL warranted a spot on Russia’s team at the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup, an under-18 tournament that is the unofficial start of the draft season. He did OK with a goal and four assists in five games as Russia won this year’s tourney. Although more probably came away impressed with Ivan Miroshnichenko’s 9 points in 5 games and Matvei Michkov (2023’s #1?) staggering 8 goals and 13 points in 5 games. Still, he made the national team at that level. He also got some early season action with Omskie Krylia, which is Omsk’s VHL team. The VHL is basically the AHL to the KHL. After a few games in September, including a six-shot game against Rubin’s VHL team wherein he scored his one and only VHL goal, Trikozov was sent back to the MHL team. He was brought back for some games in November but was sent back to Yastreby after November 22. In most of his 11 games, Trikozov did receive a decent amount of ice time for a 17-year old forward. But the last two appareances lasting 55 seconds and 1:37, respectively, meant the organization felt he was not fully ready yet.

Hence, Trikozov mostly played for Omsk’s MHL team in 2021-22 and demonstrated he is too good for that league. Trikozov put up 23 goals and 45 points in 35 season games. He finished second to Pavel Leuka in team scoring by two points, who had also played 21 more games than Trikozov. Trikozov was a scoring machine in the MHL playoffs with 10 goals and 18 points in 13 games as Yastreby went to the semifinals. If those numbers were not enough, then consider this. According to Pick 224, Trikozov had an estimated ice time of 16.82 per game and his rate of primary points (goals and first assists) per the estimate ice time was 3.46. That’s the highest such rate among all Russian players in this year’s draft class, and it is a rate only bested by some of the potential first rounders for this year’s draft class (Logan Cooley, Matthew Savoie, Liam Ohgren, Jonathan Lekkerimaki, Rutger McGroatry). Points are not everything but a rate that high should make anyone take notice.

Unfortunately, taking notice of Trikozov leads to one of the big sticking points in projecting him. He crushed the MHL. The MHL is not that good of a league. To quote Will Scouch from his Arseni Gritsyuk (Devils draft pick, current Omsk forward) video three years ago, it is a league where a lot of things just let things go. It is not that intense of a league compared to the CHL or even the USHL. The talent level across the teams varies between teams that could hang with a major junior team and a team that really should not even be one at all. Trikozov was a big fish in a small pond in 2021-22. The points alone prove that. The problem with that is that it may have hampered his skillset. That he did not stick with the VHL or get a third call-up later in the year can make one understandably question whether he improved over the season.

Likewise, Trikozov has not received any call ups to the Russian national team since the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup. Not that I expected the 17-year old Trikozov to make the Russian WJC team or that a tournament outweighs a season’s worth of work. A good showing at the World U-18s against unfamiliar and arguably-better-than-MHL competition could have soothed some of the concerns on whether his great season means anything beyond having a great MHL season. However, the IIHF banned Russia and Belarus from international competitions given Russia’s invasion in Ukraine, so a World U-18 opportunity was not going to happen. Trikozov is going to be judged mostly on what he did in the MHL, for better or for worse.

I will point one thing out in his potential favor. His EP profile does not list any contract information. As far as I know, he has not signed a pro deal with Avangard Omsk. Further, per Will Scouch’s rankings, Trikozov’s agent is Dan Milstein. Milstein has been critical of Russia’s invasion and therefore may be willing to work with a team to get him out of Russia entirely instead of locking him down in a deal with Omsk (which is the “Russian Factor,” as there is no transfer agreement between KHL and NHL teams). Which may not be a bad thing for Trikozov if it means further development in a more competitive and intense league.

Where is Gleb Trikozov Ranked?

Gleb Trikozov has his fans among the enthusiasts and some of the services. Others are more cool on his prospects. The result is a mish-mash of really high rankings and more modest ones.

With so many ranking him in the first round and two bold top-ten rankings from Smaht Scouting’s staff and Scouch, one could question why is this profile being written at all. One, I think the NHL Central Scouting and Button rankings may be more indicative of what the league’s decision makers may think. Those are second round rankings. And in the case of CSS, he fell three spots to that 15th spot among European skaters. Two, I think since this year’s draft class is not as enticing as past years (or next year’s), how Trikozov plays may make him stand out from the pack. Given that these are rankings and not mock drafts, people and groups are free to rank someone high while acknowledging that they will not get picked as high as they placed the player (see: Lane Hutson). And how Trikozov plays is indeed exciting. Electric is in the headline for a reason.

The exceptions: The Atheltic duo (and Draft Prospects Hockey. They were put off by the effort and off the puck play on top of the potential “Russian factor.” The latter was something Wheeler admitted as a cause for his lower ranking, stating he would have put Trikozov towards the front of his 29-66 tier. Then again, Wheeler also stated he is not so far ahead of those he put in the 50s, so I do not know how much I trust that. In any case, they are examples of detractors

What Others Say About Gleb Trikozov

Since Will Scouch is one of the biggest supporters of Gleb Trikozov, let us start with what he has to say. Scouch profiled him back on May 30 in this video that is a shade under 21 minutes. It features loads of clips and data to highlight the player. It also goes into why Scouch has fallen for the player while pointing out the flaws to Trikozov’s game. Flaws that I think will hold him back from being a mid-first round pick. Here is a brief summary from the video, which I highly recommend that you watch.

Pros:

  • Trikozov was stupidly productive both for points (4.71 points per 60!) and more granular data like offensive zone transitions, zone transitions in total, carry-ins into the offensive zone, making passes for scoring chances, taking scoring chances himself, and being involved in shot attempts when he is on the ice. The granular data suggests offensive potential beyond the points.
  • Strong puck control in motion and under pressure.
  • Able to drive pucks in deep for shots and passes into dangerous areas.
  • Neutral zone play and off the rush play shows he can make quick reads to linemates.
  • His wrist shot is pretty good.

Cons:

  • A lack of consistency off the puck and on defense, both in terms of intensity and pace.
  • Can be knocked off the puck in tight areas and along the boards.
  • Could be too risky in some of his decisions on the puck.
  • Could stand to take smarter shooting decisions or utilize options while driving in.

Scouch is very positive about Trikozov’s skills and those cons are presented something to be fixed. Which I agree with. Consistency being an issue could be a result of Trikozov not being challenged enough at the MHL level. It could also be a result of coaching as well as a 17-year old player still figuring things out. However, it also highlights to me how important player development can be for a prospective pro. Whoever picks him is going to have to get him in a situation that can have him reduce his issues while still maintaining what he does great on the puck. Some of it is fixable. The key will be to fix those issues while also enhancing what he is already good at on the puck.

That stated, Scouch’s final ranking of a ‘1F’ is telling. It means that Scouch thinks his talent is among the best in the draft class, which is backed-up by the effusive praise by Scouch of his offensive skills and clips showing said skills. It also means that he does think there is plenty of risk as to whether he meets that potential - which would justify a team to not take him in the first round, muchless in the first half. Scouch did emphasize that the right team picking him and developing him will have a steal in this draft. But that is also contingent as to whether Trikozov’s skills at transition, shooting, passing, and attacking also carry over in tougher and better leagues.

I could end it there but I will not as there is more to digest. Josh Tessler of Smaht Scouting, who rates Trikozov highly, wrote up this scouting profile of Trikozov back on December 30, 2021. Based on Trikozov’s season, this was written a little over a month after his last appearance in the VHL. As with Scouch’s profile, Tessler has a lot of positive things to say about Trikozov’s puck handling, passing, and especially his play in the neutral zone. About that, Tessler wrote:

When playing at both the VHL and MHL levels, the neutral zone is where he plays the most aggressive. He will spot an attacker skating freely along the half-wall and starts to skate towards him to cut him off from entering centered ice. Once he gets into full speed, he’ll throw a shoulder check to disrupt the rush once in the defensive zone. But, it’s the neutral zone where he garners the necessary speed and decides to chase down the attacker.

...

But there are moments in which his stick-handling and puck control are truly dynamic when Trikozov is skating through the neutral zone. Trikozov has excellent one-handed stick-handling that allows him to play the puck out wide and far from the attacker when turning and then skating through neutral zone. He has plenty of instances where he navigates the puck around the attacker, gets good separation and charges into the neutral zone. While he has proven that he can stick-handler with ease one on one with an attacker, there certainly are situations where stick-handling around pressure is far more daunting. But, Trikozov is up for the challenge. The Russian prospect has good problem solving ability in the neutral zone.

As much as Trikozov gets plenty of praise for how he attacks, these are the details that make me take some more notice of the player. This is the kind of thing that generates offensive opportunities. This is the kind of thing that allows a player to contribute even if the shift does not end with a goal or a point. This is the kind of thing that can translate to the next level. This is the kind of thing that separates Trikozov scoring a whole lot of points in the MHL from other draft eligible players that were also productive into the MHL. This is great, as are Tessler’s detailed observations.

However, Tessler did note some of the concerns that Scouch highlighted with respect to his off the puck play. Such as:

While he does struggle with an active stick that probably has more to do with playing in the MHL more than anything. When Trikozov is playing in MHL games, he does a lot of gliding. He does a lot of observing and watching from centered ice. Parks himself on the perimeter to patrol the point and the half-wall, but I wouldn’t call him intimidating in the defensive zone. Again, it is like night and day when you compare it to this VHL play. When defending in the VHL, his defense is slightly stronger and keeps good pace with the attacker in the slot to eliminate the passing lane.

And:

When it comes to forechecking, Trikozov will go for loose pucks in the corners. Yet, he is not as aggressive to the puck carrier as he is in the neutral zone. You will see him skate into the offensive zone to engage in loose puck battles, but he can be slow and sluggish. I want him to be faster and more aggressive to the puck carrier in the offensive zone to attempt to keep the puck alive in the offensive zone. But, nonchalant forechecking is the norm in the MHL. Even though he is nonchalant, He has the speed to be involved and in pace on the forecheck, but doesn’t follow through. In the VHL level, he seemed to be far more aggressive at the red line and in the corners. It’s night and day when you compare it to MHL play.

In both cases, Tessler did also note that the lack of consistency in how he goes after loose pucks or plays on defense could be a result of where he was playing in the MHL. That Trikozov picked up his pace and effort in his VHL stint is a positive sign. Trikozov was at least aware that he could not get away with what he could in the MHL and acted more appropriately. That said, I could see how that in of itself is a turn off - even when it is apparent that the player is too good for that level.

Tessler’s profile concludes by stating that Trikozov could become an impactful top six forward based on the skills he has shown and he wants to see what he could do at the next level. While Tessler’s profile was posted months ahead of Scouch’s profile, he comes to a similar conclusion about his potential albeit without going into the risks of him not making it. After reading this and watching Scouch’s profile, I can see how both rate him as highly as they do.

Ben Kerr at Last Word on Sports is not as positive of Trikozov in his profile, which was posted on May 27, 2022. He does agree that Trikozov has the potential to be a top-six forward, particularly given what he wrote about his offensive game:

Trikozov is a dangerous presence in the offensive zone. He is not afraid to make plays in traffic and loves to take the puck to the dirty areas of the ice. He has very good vision and hockey IQ. Trikozov can control the puck and extend plays, buying time for his teammates. While doing so, he keeps his head up and looks for the open man. When a scoring opportunity presents itself, Trikozov is able to make a pass through the tight passing lane and set up a teammate. He is also able to play the role of a goal scorer. He has an excellent array of shots and a very quick release on all of them. Trikozov is powerful and accurate with his wrist shot, snapshot, slap shot and one-timer. He finds the soft spots in the defence and gets himself in a good position to take a pass and fire off his shot.

But Kerr is more cautious about meeting that potential given issues he identified with Trikozov’s game. This is what Kerr wrote about the issue he has with his skating:

The biggest issue is that Trikozov doesn’t always seem to be moving his feet as well as he could. There are times when his skating is inconsistent and he doesn’t seem to go all out. It may be an issue of improving his endurance, or it could be an inconsistency in his effort levels, but either way, it is a solvable issue.

And his defensive game:

Trikozov’s defensive game is a bit of a work in progress. There are times when he is aggressive on the backcheck and gets himself in good positions to cut down passing and shooting lanes. However, there are times when he is not moving his feet well enough. This could again be an issue of a lack of endurance. He coasts and puck watches a little too much, leaving his man open. This is an area he will need to improve with good coaching going forward.

Kerr also took issue with his transition game, which I am not sure I agree given what Scouch showed and what Tessler wrote about it. However, the skating and defensive issues are issues that are consistent with what both had to say about them. Fixable issues. Issues to be corrective. But issues, nonetheless. Given that Kerr numbered the profile at #24, it may indicate how he rates the player. That would put him in the first round.

Yet, I can see how those issues could be bigger deals for teams and could lead to lower rankings. Such as in The Athletic’s ranking, where Pronman’s short blurb about the player included the statement:

“I waver on his compete. I’ve seen games he takes nights off and other games he’s engaged and works hard on both sides of the puck.”

Again, this is not inconsistent with what others have said or written about Trikozov. But it can be seen as a red flag and may contribute a lot to Pronman’s own low ranking and perhaps others as well. I think it is a result of playing in a league he was too good for and essentially allows that kind of inconsistency from players who are too good for it; but that is just my read on it.

A Little Video

Scouch’s profile is a whole video full of clips and snippets of Trikozov playing, both good and bad. Some of those highlights are the sort of thing that you can tell that can only be done by someone really talented. His goal from the goalline was especially impressive. So if you watch just one video about Gleb Trikozov, then watch this one. There is a little more video to take in of Trikozov if you want a little more.

Here is a compilation of plays from three games played by Trikozov in the VHL. He is wearing #8 in these games. While this is a compilation, you can see that Trikozov is not exactly biding his time on the ice.

Here is a shift-by-shift video from one of his MHL games (a playoff game, I think?) against Krasnaya Armiya Moskva. He is wearing #71 here. The game did not go so well for Omskie, but you can see him make the effort.

An Opinion of Sorts

Here is fun fact about the New Jersey Devils. From 2007 through 2015, the Devils did not draft any Russian players or anyone from the KHL or its affiliate leagues like the VHL or MHL. While some of those draft classes were small, there was definitely a shift in drafting philosophy under David Conte. Since Paul Castron took over as director, the Devils have been consistent in drafting players from the KHL and its related leagues. Since 2016, the Devils have drafted at least one player from that area of the hockey world. All of them have been Russian, too, with the exception of Belarussian Yegor Sharangovich in 2018, who was drafted from Dynamo Minsk of Belarus - which is in the KHL. The Shakir Mukhamadullin pick in 2020 is proof that they will pick such a player high in the draft too.

This is important to note as it is one of the reasons why Gleb Trikozov could fall out of the first round. Some teams have avoided Russian and/or KHL, VHL, and MHL based players out of the concern of not being able to sign them and integrate them into the organization when they feel it is appropriate to do so. The ongoing war that Russia is waging on the Ukraine has raised additional concerns; both about whether the KHL will be as well-funded as in years past and whether the players are able to be brought over. I do not know how the Devils management feels about the latter, but the former has not been a significant issue based on their draft history. The larger point is that the Devils have not been so afraid of the “Russian factor” for six straight drafts. And I would expect the Devils to make it seven this year.

The issues, perceived and otherwise, with respect to his effort and off the puck play are fixable based on what I have read and seen. I can understand that combined with dominating a weak junior league would cast doubt on anyone drafting him high. I can understand that the enthusiasts are high on him because there are not a lot of players who can just be electric on the ice like Trikozov in this year’s draft. Some of those clips feature a player who just out-handles, out-dekes, out-maneuvers defenders as if it was a drill. Some of that is just something hard to find at any level, aside from league quality. Rather than settle for “high floor, low ceiling” player X, why not elevate someone with Trikozov? I get that. Do I see him going in the first round? Late in it, if it at all, I would figure. But I do think the issues may hold him back. Especially if teams are cooler on KHL, VHL, and MHL based players in this year’s draft than usual.

That may be a shame to in the eyes of the enthusiasts. For me, I think it is an opportunity. I am hoping that Trikozov is available at 37th overall for the Devils. I think it is possible too. In my view, he is the perfect type of prospect the Devils should take a chance on in the second round. Does he have concerns? Yes. Whoever drafts him will need to work to not only improve the areas of his game that need help, but also to improve his strengths to give him a better chance at succeeding at the next level. Whoever drafts him will also need to get him out of the MHL and put him in a more competitive environment, too. The strengths that Trikozov does have are clearly valuable. Forwards who can shoot and pass the puck well are always welcomed. Forwards who can transition the puck from zone to zone well are especially desirable as they can facilitate offense for himself and his linemates. Forwards who have the flair to create plays in the face of pressure are hard to find. The Devils really do not have a forward with such skills in their prospect pool outside of the AHL. Trikozov would fill that need. Even if you disagree that the Devils need such a prospect, then I would counter by stating that there is no such thing as having too many offensively skilled prospects.

Will it take time before Trikozov is ready for pro hockey in North America? Yes, absolutely. Since Trikozov, as far as I am aware, is not signed to a pro contract, whoever picks him can at least find a more competitive situation than risking a third season in the MHL or hoping Omsk’s VHL team keeps him as a regular for 2022-23. Can the Devils do all of this? Sure. I think they should make it happen in the second round if he is available. Will they? We will find out on July 8.

Your Take

I am a fan of Gleb Trikozov, although not to a point where I think the player is among the top 15 players in the whole draft class. I would like the Devils to draft him in the second round. Now I want to know what you think. What do you think of Trikozov’s season? What did you like reading about him? What did you not like reading about him? How do you rate him among the other forwards in this draft? Would you want the Devils to take him? If so, when? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about Trikozov in the comments. Thank you for reading.