Source: Canadian Press

2019 NHL Draft Prospect Profile: Mikhail Abramov

While Mikhail Abramov certainly came into the QMJHL with less fanfare that Maxim Cajkovic (Abramov was taken 97th overall in the same CHL Import Draft in which Cajkovic went first), the seasons of each prospect bore some resemblance. Both have produced at rates somewhat below expectation given pre-season potential, though both may have been held back by offensively inept junior teams.

From a stylistic standpoint, there are plenty of differences. There’s a lot of like about Abramov, but some risk to take notice of as well. We’ll take a closer look at this shifty Russian winger in today’s prospect profile.

Bio

  • Age/Birthdate: 18 / March 26, 2001
  • Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
  • Frame: 5-foot-10 / 161 lbs
  • Position: Right Wing/Centre
  • Handedness: Left
  • Draft Year Team: Victoriaville Tigres
  • Accolades:
    • 2018-19
      • Hlinka Memorial Bronze Medal
      • QMJHL All-Rookie Team
    • 2017-18
      • Russia U16 Champion
      • Russia U17 Champion

2018-19 Stat Rundown

GP G A P INV% 5v5 Pr INV% 5v5 ePr60 SEAL Sh/GP Sh% 5v5 eTOI GF% GF%rel GD60 rel XLS% Top XLS% XPR
62 16 38 54 31% 15% 1.07 0.88 2.69 10% 15.3 57.9% 13.4% 1.29 9% 6% 43.6

Scouting Report

Abramov is an energetic player that stays involved in the play. He pressures the puck when opponents have it, supports the puck well when teammates have it, and controls it well when it’s on his own stick. He has no issues taking passes in stride, on his backhand, off his skates, from behind, or off a bank off the boards.

The Moscow-born winger looks to be more of a distributor than a finisher. He doesn’t get much power behind his shot, and as such isn’t a threat to score from range. Up close, however, he can be dangerous, as in the play below (notice also how he takes the pass between his feet without missing a beat).

Abramov owes a lot of his playmaking prowess to plus-level awareness and on-ice vision. He keeps his head up and surveys the zone well in advance of receiving possession. By the time the puck gets to him, Abramov knows his options; he is then able to incorporate a degree of deception to his passing, frequently passing against the flow of his body, or while looking in another direction.

The clip below ends up being another goal for Abramov, but the play starts with a pass across the slot to an open teammate that demonstrates a couple of the techniques mentioned here (the cutback to open up the lane for the pass and the way he glides unnoticed into the slot to make himself available to the for the one-timer shouldn’t go uncredited either).

Being a bit undersized, Abramov has short legs that don’t generate much power. He’s an agile skater, with quick crossovers and strong two-step acceleration that makes him shifty in tight quarters, but his top speed is only average. Given the right circumstance, he can create space and outmaneuver opponents, but he cannot cut through them or simply beat them wide. As a result, he’s more inclined to pass the puck off to teammates for transition plays, darting back into open areas afterward.

If his teammates don’t make themselves available, Abramov is left to attempt a dump and chase strategy that he is ill-suited for. While he certainly has the will to forecheck hard and he does not shy away from contact, he doesn’t have the body strength to do it effectively.

It’s difficult to make a determination from a limited numbers of games, but I did notice that Abramov falls down more than he ought to, and not always on contact. He’s pretty forward on his feet while in stride, and may have issues with balance. It would be interesting to know how consistent of a problem this was beyond the handful of times I saw him.

Given that strength is an issue that comes up frequently in this report, I feel that Abramov would benefit greatly from adding significantly in that facet. He has good awareness on the ice and processes the game very well. He also has a strong mechanical foundation in his skating and his shot. Each of these factors indicate to me that if he were able to pack on muscle in the right places, he could significantly improve some of his deficiencies.

Analysis

Abramov’s 54 points in 62 games are solid for a draft season in the QMJHL. With an expected likelihood of success of about 10% through pGPS, Abramov profiles as more of a depth selection on the surface.

(Read more about pGPS here.)

A couple of big names pop out (namely Bruins, like Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand), but the majority of the matches that were successful produced in middle six roles. pGPS determines the likelihood of Abramov becoming a top six forward at just under 6%. Can he beat those odds? As we like to do here, let’s dig deeper.

An analysis of Abramov’s situational scoring reveals that he was somewhat reliant on power play scoring (it accounted for 40% percent of his overall point total), and that nearly half of his even strength production came from secondary assists. Neither of these are particular great signs – both his goals per game and primary assists per game at even strength rested in the vicinity of the 75th percentile among his QMJHL peers.

There are a couple of different ways to view the impact that his team had on his production. The Tigres were a pretty poor offensive squad (their 188 goals were the fourth lowest total in the Quebec League this past season). Abramov’s 54 points resulted in an involvement percentage of 31% (calculated according to the games that Abramov played in), which, as we noted in the Cajkovic profile, is up near the top of the class.

Unlike Cajkovic, however, Abramov has a 5-on-5 primary involvement percentage of just 15%, owing to the situational scoring distribution outlined above. While he played a sizable role in overall scoring, he had a much smaller impact on the team’s 5-on-5 production.

Abramov’s most frequent linemate was Yegor Serdyuk, a fellow Russian forward who is also in his first year of draft eligibility, and was taken with Victoriaville’s other pick in the 2018 CHL Import Draft. Serdyuk also happened to lead the Tigres in scoring this season, and by all accounts (including in the games that I saw), developed strong chemistry with Abramov early on and maintained it throughout the season. Including playoffs, Abramov assisted on 16 of Serdyuk’s 28 goals, while Serdyuk assisted on 11 of Abramov’s goals.

In fact, Abramov’s scoring distribution appears to be pretty uneven, with the majority tied up in just a few players. Beyond Serdyuk, there’s Simon Lafrance, Victoriaville’s second leading scorer and the most frequent third wheel on the top line, as well as defenceman Dominic Cormier. Now, there are two potential excuses for this stilted distribution: one, Abramov spent the vast majority of his time with these players and didn’t get much of a chance to produce with others; and two, the rest of the team was not very good.

I think there is truth to both factors. For what it’s worth, both Serdyuk and Lafrance produced less by rate when away from Abramov compared to with Abramov.

Abramov has enough upside by virtue of skill and intelligence to make him a worthwhile selection in the middle rounds. If he can add significant strength to his frame, it’s conceivable that he sees a precipitous jump in production next season. Interested teams will need to carefully assess his willingness to improve in that area in order to determine his viability as a future professional player. Without having that information available to me, I’d suggest that Abramov would represent good value in the 50-80 range at the draft.

Additional Charts and Data

Rolling Season Data

Team Relative

Cohort Based

Sources

Raw data for the charts used in this article came from eliteprospects.com and theqmjhl.ca.

Some clips were pulled from videos from prospectshifts.com. Check out Mikhail Abramov’s Prospect Shifts page here (paywall).