Who will the Anaheim Ducks draft at 3rd overall? A look at Ivan Demidov

The strengths and weakness of the Russian superstar. Will Pat Verbeek overlook him for his smaller size?
Anaheim Ducks, Ivan Demidov
Anaheim Ducks, Ivan Demidov / SOPA Images/GettyImages

In just over a month, the NHL draft will take place at the Sphere in Las Vegas, with the Anaheim Ducks holding the third overall pick. Drafting in this high position is an excellent opportunity for the Ducks to add a top talent to help them get out of this rebuild. There are a handful of options the Ducks will look at, so as the draft approaches, we are going to be overviewing the top potential prospects who could become an Anaheim Duck on June 28th.

For these prospect articles, the three things being evaluated will be the player's strengths, weaknesses, and fit for the Ducks. The first prospect on the list to look at is Russian forward Ivan Demidov.

Ivan Demidov is a left-shot forward with an offensive skill set that rivals top prospect Macklin Celebrini. This last year in the MHL  he scored 23 goals and had 37 assists in 30 games which was good for a 2 points per game average and the league MVP award. On most prospect lists he is ranked at number 2, with a few scouts placing him lower but still in the top five.

Ivan Demidov Strengths

Demidov does not have one specific aspect of his offensive game that stands out, but rather he is an all-around threat who keeps defences on their toes whenever he has the puck. Elite Prospects has an excellent video on his gameplay where they breakdown his offensive creativity and skill set.

He can create plays through high-vision passing, deke around defenders with his amazing hands, or rip pucks into the back of the net when he has a lane. This offensive tool bag leads to a lot of dimensions in Demidov's game. On top of a high offensive IQ, his edge work and skating while he has the puck is excellent for generating offence. His unique skating is something that NHL Draft Pros highlights specifically well in his scouting report. He protects the puck well and constantly opens his hips while skating to allow his body to face the play and make passes he otherwise couldn’t. 

Demidov’s skills should translate to the NHL well and allow him to be a high-offensive force who can generate on the top line for a team. His numbers in the MHL are the most ever for a draft-eligible player in the MHL. On NHL Draft Pros scouting report, he points out that Demidov's stats are ahead of all-star company like Panarin and Kucherov. If Demidov can be anything close to those players a team will be getting a special player.

"Everything he does is effortless as he can make the most difficult plays look so simple, especially in tight spaces where he has nothing to work with. He’s truly dynamic, playing at a high pace and showing elite level puck skills and control with his hands to make swift and precise dekes."

Peter Baracchini (The Hockey Writers)

Ivan Demidov Weaknesses

The weaknesses in Demidov’s game revolve around his defensive play and size. Tyler Ballesteros-Willard, a scout from DraftProspectHockey, covers the specifics of these weaknesses in his article. The important thing to note is that for most high-offence forwards, the level of skill in the opponent's zone is not the same in their own zone.

While Ivan Demidov has a great compete level and can make some defensive plays, he will need to improve in this area for him to be a player coaches can rely on to play top minutes. It will be interesting to see how his defensive game grows this next year in the KHL. Hopefully, playing against higher competition and better teams will cause him to play better when he does not have the puck. He will not be able to win games but just scoring, he will need to be responsible at all times. 

Demidov’s size has also been something scouts have noted. Elite Prospects lists the Russian at 5’ 11’’ and 168 lbs. This is not a major concern as he is only 17 and will continue growing over the next few years. However, for teams that favour size and strength, Demidov will not match that profile.

A few of the other critiques of Demidov are less on him as a player and more based on his situation in Russia. In Scott Powers article for The Athletic, he brings forward a lot of the concerns around Ivan Demidov. First off, the MHL is not the strongest league, so the competition he has been playing against is weaker than what most other draft-eligible prospects are facing.

While it is clear he has skill, there is a question to be asked if the weaker competition is allowing him to stand out more than he would if he were in a more competitive league. Demidov got to play 4 games this year in the KHL against men, but his low ice time did not give a great sample size to see what he could bring. Typically, scouts have less of a gauge on overseas prospects than North American ones, so there are more questions up in the air with a prospect playing in Europe.

Another concern for some about Demidov is that he has a KHL contract next year and there is not a guarantee he will come to North America right away. For the most part, highly talented prospects want to leave the KHL once their contract is done to play in the NHL, but the uncertainty could lead to teams being less certain on Demidov.

"He is a powerful but awkward-looking skater and he's not the biggest winger so there is some question about how his game will translate to higher levels. I see a potential top-line winger who will score a lot, but who may never be the best forward on an NHL team."

Corey Pronman (The Athletic)

Ivan Demidov's Fit with the Ducks

The Ducks have an excellent young forward group but could use another offensive talent to help put goals in the net. Adding a player like Demidov to play alongside Carlsson or Mctavish would guarantee more goals. Demidov could solidify the top six for the Ducks and give them another great winger to go with Zegras, Terry, and Gauthier. 

On the contrary, Demidov’s smaller stature could be something that Pat Verbeek looks at and raises an issue with. It is no secret that the Ducks’ GM wants his team to be a stronger and more competitive squad. Demidov can bring the competitive level, but whether or not Verbeek is ok with drafting a player who is not as strong will need to be seen.

 As far as questions surrounding the Russian prospect go, I do not think there is a need for the Ducks to worry. Demidov is not NHL-ready this season, so letting him play against men for a year and grow his game for the NHL would be a benefit. Scouts for the Ducks have a better feel for how his skill would translate to the NHL, but from what I have been able to observe and read, Demidov looks like he could be an offensive talent who could help turn the Ducks into a team able to outscore their opponents. 

Outside of Celebrini, I believe that Ivan Demidov is the best prospect the Ducks could get from this Draft. His high offensive ceiling and goal scoring dominance out weigh the concerns and questions for me. Unfortunately, because Chicago is drafting ahead of the Ducks they will have the first opportunity to draft Demidov. We will have to wait till June 28th to see who the Ducks get and how things shake out.