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Author: Eugene Belashchenko (RussianProspects Exclusive)Date: 09/13/2006
Scouting Report: Energized CSKA Red Army club lead by youth

2007 Russian Super League

Denis Parshin (2004 NHL Entry Draft) battles with Salvat Yulayev during the 2003-04 regular season (photo source: Salavat Yulayev press core)

CSKA Moscow has lost veteran players over the summer, but the club’s strong development system is paying off and the club’s youth is stepping up and contributing in key roles. The club’s top forming line is comprised of Denis Parshin (Colorado), Alexander Nikulin (Ottawa) and Sergei Shirokov (Vancouver).

Denis Parshin has been the club’s brightest and most versatile forward. He has been known for his puckhandling, but has been impressively aggressive and quick on his feet during the first few games of the season. The young forward has had many scoring chances and has interacted well with his linemates. Diminutive in stature, he still does not play physical hockey, but does not hesitate to drive through traffic, or fight behind the net.

Alexander Nikulin has become the club’s top center. He possesses, size, speed and puckhandling ability. The young enhances the line with his ability to carry the puck up the ice and making quick on the move passes to his line mates. He has also been strong defensively, compensating for defensemen like Anton Belov who have been contributing heavily in the offensive end of the ice. The line’s cohesion is still a work in progress, however, as Nikulin has made several no-look passes while skating in transition during the recent games that did not precisely meet their targets. Furthermore, Nikulin has been strong defensively, but needs to use his size better in the role of a defenseman, as at least on one occasion when a goal was scored against CSKA, he did not properly cover a forward on his side of the net, acting more as a floating supporting center rather than a defenseman. Overall, Nikulin’s contribution has been excellent and he has fully taken over the responsibilities of being CSKA’s top center.

Sergei Shirokov has continued to be one of the club’s top young players, thus far following strongly to his 2005-06 campaign, despite the departure from the club his fellow 86 born forward and linemate Nikolai Lemtyugov (St. Louis Blues). The young forward, while not impressive in size, does not hesitate to get ‘his nose dirty’ and fight hard against the boards or drive through traffic. His drive and fighting spirit have really become apparent, as he continues to create scoring chances despite obstacles and physical pressure. Shirokov’s puckhandling is also worthy of a note, though at times he needs to improve his decision-making with the puck, moving it to his linemates sooner.

In addition to the newly formed offensive line, CSKA’s two 86 born defensemen Kiril Lyamin (Ottawa Senators) and Anton Belov (shocking remains undrafted) have both made significant impacts. Both young blue liners took over key positions on the club’s top two defensive pairings. Anton Belov has really surprised this season with his aggressiveness, speed and immense offensive upside. He continues to join in the offensive rush, helping his club create significant offensive chances, including a goal that he scored on himself from in front of the net. Belov’s performance in the defensive zone continues to improve and he has been solid in this category. The young defender continues to play physically, though at times getting in trouble for being overly zealous on a hit, especially near the boards. Still, while being strong defensively, it is Belov’s contributions in the offensive zone that demand attention.
Kiril Lyamin, while not standing out to the level of Belov has fully reintegrated himself as a key member of CSKA after spending a season primarily on the club’s third or fourth defensive pairings. The young defender brings a physical presence to the blue line, as well as a powerful slap shot from the blue line.

The aforementioned young players have a unique opportunity with CSKA to take on leadership roles, while continuing to learn from a group of experienced veteran players, including former NHL prospect and resident passing center Vadim Epanchintsev and former marginal NHLer David Nemirovsky. Thus far this special group of youngsters have taken full advantage of the opportunity and all have significantly boosted their NHL stock.

Related Player Profiles: . A.Belov K.Lyamin A.Nikulin D.Parshin S.Shirokov
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