Courtesy of GuelphStorm.com
I had the luxury of watching a couple of Guelph games over the weekend – Saturday vs. Owen Sound and Sunday vs. London. While I was getting a good look at draft eligibles this year I was also taking notes on Oilers prospect Dmitri “Dima” Samorukov and went back over the tape.
Here’s what I saw….
The game against Owen Sound “Dima” was pretty quiet. He had a few nice rushes but finished the game zeroes across the board including zero shots. Against London, he was a -1 but had 5 shots on goal. One thing that I was really looking for in his game was the physical part of it. He’s listed as 6’2″ 180 according to hockeydb but looks bigger than that. Last year, I do recall a few times he made some nice open ice hits but I’ve seen at least a period either live or on tape of about 20 Guelph games this year and don’t recall any big hits from Dima. In the two games I watched over the weekend I saw a hesitant attempt twice but other than that he was disengaged physically which was very disappointing. I remember reading his scouting report in his draft year somewhere saying how he was a very physical player but I have seen nothing of the sorts this year at all. Someone once compared him to Nikita Zadorov but I can assure you having watched Zadorov a tonne in London – there is no comparison.
Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images
There is no question Samorukov loves to play offence. He loves to skate with the puck, join the rush and use his big shot. He’s actually a really good passer from what I can tell also. Plenty of tape to tape passes. He has pretty good vision offensively can make a few moves around guys and is comfortable playing at the point. Merkley gets most of the PP time but Samorukov does have the ability to run a PP when given opportunity. He has a cannon of a shot though seems to struggle to get it through consistently. Sometimes, he can get a little too cute and turn the puck over but for the most part he is a big guy with good agility. His ability to transition from defence to offence is a real strength thanks to his wonderful skating.
This is where he struggles. When he has time he is very effective at zone exits as he’ll just take the puck and skate it out of the zone himself. As I mentioned he is a good skater. However, if that option is not there that’s where he gets into trouble. Any time there is pressure in his zone he does a very poor job at play recognition, does not clear the man in front, does not tie up sticks and is just not physically engaged enough to break up plays. Quite frankly, he looks lost in his zone often scrambling out of position and just refuses to play with any type of intensity. I would classify his defensive game as “weak”. He just kinda” stands there” protecting an area, does not read the play well just reacts after the fact. He does cut off a lot of passes off the rush and takes away passing lanes thanks to his long reach but guys get good position on him and he just lets them. He swipes at the puck a lot does not take the body. He also turns the puck over often when trying to clear by rushing it instead of being patient. Overall, he just doesn’t look comfortable at all playing defence in his own zone from what I’ve seen recently which is very disappointing.
There is no question Dima has talent. The funny thing for me is there were several reports last year of him being the “total package”. Here is one example of a scouting report from a credible source Dominic Tiano: Scouting report. It was a rave review of Dima’s game but Tiano does mention in that article however that:
“Consistency from game to game is the biggest component that has been lacking from Samorukov’s game this season. He can go stretches where his decision making is questionable and can cost his team.”
Perhaps, I just always catch him during one of those poor stretches. Or perhaps his work ethic is questionable and now that he has been drafted he isn’t putting in the necessary work (which we see a lot in Junior) to get better. Whatever it is, he doesn’t look like the player he was last year. When he got drafted by the Oilers last summer, I mentioned him in the same breathe as another OHL draftee Markus Niemelainen who also regressed and ended up back oversees. I don’t anticipate that happening for this player yet but the lack of consistency & intensity is alarming.
Samorukov is a frustrating player to watch defensively but once the puck is out of his zone strangely he looks confident, skilled and poised. That does not translate well to the NHL at all if he is a defensive liability. He’s turns 19 in June so he’s 3 years away at least before he ever gets a sniff of the NHL but unless he shows a greater commitment to defence and works on his consistency he may never get there. I would grade him as a “C” level prospect for now but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he ends up back in Russia when his CHL career is over. His rights are owned by CSKA Moscow of the KHL.
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