In the last few years, we’ve seen scouts taking prospect birthdays into account more often as a part of the discussion ahead of the NHL Entry Draft. Born on the September 15th cut-off, Semyon Der-Arguchintsev has the privilege of being the youngest player in this year’s draft.
Born in Russia, Der-Arguchintsev enrolled in Ottawa’s Canadian International Hockey Academy in 2014, allowing him to peruse his dream of one day playing in the NHL. He played two years of minor hockey in Canada before being selected 27th overall in the 2016 OHL Priority Selection draft.
Playing in the OHL as a domestic player, the Petes were able to partner Der-Arguchintsev with fellow Russians, Nikita Korostelev and fellow 2018 draft-eligible prospect Pavel Gogolev (his childhood best friend). The three Russians formed a line that was by far the most dangerous on a Peterborough team that was severely lacking talent.
Known affectionately by his teammates as “Sammy”, the young Russian came right into the OHL and had a decent rookie season - despite a very obvious lack of size and strength. Very young and very small SDA took a while to get going in his first season with the Petes. He finished with 29 points in 63 games but came alive in the playoffs where he finished with 8 in the first two rounds.
This past season SDA showed a huge jump in his development. Playing on a really bad Peterborough team, he nearly doubled his offensive production.
Der-Arguchintsev is more of a playmaker than a scorer - though he’s got a pretty nice shot. With only 1.5 shots per game, the numbers suggest that he looks to make a play for his linemates before he shoots himself. The eye test tells you the same thing. You can seem him weave his way through traffic, looking for an open man - sometimes even passing up better shots for himself. If he learns that it’s ok to be a little more selfish, we could see a jump in shot and goal production.
This season, SDA’s 39 assists was good enough to leave him tied for fourth among draft eligible OHL forwards. The high assist total comes from a combination of tremendous passing skills and elite vision.
His skating is above average. Like Mitch Marner at the same age, Der-Arguchintsev is a very agile skater that works very well east-west but currently lacks the top-end straight away speed you like to see from elite skater. He’s quick and shifty, but when you do catch him, SDA can be knocked off the puck rather easily by bigger opponents.
Right now, he still needs that space to do his best work. As with almost any draft prospect, SDA needs to gain put on a lot of muscle, the bonus is that he is younger than everyone else, so he’s got more physical maturing to do naturally. His slight frame allows him to be knocked off the puck easily and makes it hard for him to win puck battles along the boards.
You can tell Der-Arguchintsev knows what it will take for him to develop into a professional hockey player. “You have to learn how to play defence, how to play in the neutral zone and how to play without the puck. Those are all important things. They’re probably more important than putting up points. Yeah, getting points is great but it’s not everything.”
Defensively, Der-Arguchintsev progressed a long way from his rookie campaign. He back checks a lot harder and has learned that there is more to the game than playing with the puck on his stick. He uses his quickness to be disruptive and does a decent enough job of helping his teammates in the defensive zone, despite his size. He finished with one of the better GF%rel on the team this season.
He’s a project, but Semyon Der-Arguchintsev has the time and potential to get to the NHL.
I was in the building for this one (unfortunately):
Semyon Der-Arguchintsev gets a bad pass from a teammate, but he beats 3 players to the puck, skates around the zone - beating 2 players, toe drags around a 3rd and then gets his own rebound— Hockey Guy (@FlyingSkate94) March 16, 2018
#2018NHLDraft #NHLDraft pic.twitter.com/55XjdM3ZYQ
What the Scouts are Saying
One of the more exciting players to watch in this age group because of his playmaking ability. Dazzles in puck control at times because he can keep the puck on a string. But also exhibits the vision to spot passing lanes and anticipates the play well. For a rookie, I thought he did a good job limiting his turnovers in the offensive end. He is undersized though (5’9) and he’ll need to continue to get quicker to make himself more elusive. And obviously adding strength will be crucial to filling out the rest of his game so he doesn’t have to constantly rely on his hands to create time and space. Potential is very high here. - Brock Otten; OHL Prospects
Where He’ll Be Drafted
When draft weekend rolls around, Der-Arguchintsev is going to fall a lot further than he should. He easily has enough talent to go in the first half of the draft, but thanks to a few factors - the biggest of which is his size - it shouldn’t be surprising when he doesn’t get picked until the 5th or 6th round.
He’s a long way from contributing in the NHL, but with the skill-set and drive, SDA is the kind of player that will make an impact one day. Once you get outside of the second round, the potential reward will greatly outweigh the risk.
Projection: 5th round