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Colorado Avalanche Top 25 Under 25: #22 Daniil Zhuravlyov

The young defenseman is already a staple in the KHL.

Kontinental Hockey League: Ak Bars Kazan vs Avangard Omsk
KAZAN, RUSSIA NOVEMBER 12, 2019: HC Avangard Omsk’s Semyon Koshelev (#21) and HC Ak Bars Kazan’s Daniil Zhuravlyov (#2) in action in their 2019/20 KHL Regular Season ice hockey match, at Tatneft Arena.
Photo by Yegor Aleyev\TASS via Getty Images

The Top 25 Under 25 is a collaboration by members of the Mile High Hockey community. Eight writers have ranked players under the age of 25 as of July 1, 2021 in the Colorado Avalanche organization. Each participant used their own metric of current ability and production against future projection to rank each player. Now, we’ll count down each of the 25 players ranked.

Further note for today’s article. We were reminded Sasha Mutala is in the Avs organization with the Colorado Eagles. However, he is not eligible for the Top 25 because this ranking only includes players on NHL contracts or players with NHL rights held by the Avalanche. Mutala, on an AHL deal, saw his official draft rights expire last season. If/when Mutala earns an NHL contract, we’ll be happy to add him back into the list.

Drafted in the fifth round in 2018, Colorado Avalanche prospect Daniil (also known as Danil or Danila) Zhuravlyov has made his way through the Russian junior leagues to find himself in the KHL full-time as a 20-year-old. Playing in the KHL at that age is a feat that is quite rare for a defenseman, especially one that wasn’t drafted high at all. Shakir Mukhammadullin, Alexander Romanov, and Artyom Zub are all players in the last five years who have done that and put up decent points while doing so.

Let’s start with the scouting reports. Right away, there isn’t much information or video on Zhuravlyov because he’s a defenseman who doesn’t play the flashy offensive style that we know and love from the likes of Cale Makar and Bowen Byram.

Per Dobber Prospects great regular prospect updates, Zhuravlyov is the type of defenseman that would be a good foil around an offensive guy who jumps into the play and takes risks. Zhuravlyov is a good skater with good passing ability and puck-handling skills that would let him transition the puck around the ice and be mobile. His KHL stats were pretty good. He had a positive goals differential playing 15 minutes a night — I tried to find out if he played special teams but I couldn’t get that from the KHL website. He also completed 80% of his passes, which is a nice, boring comfortable, average number.

At the World Juniors in 2019, he was described as being complete enough that you don’t worry who the opponent is on the ice when he’s on, and is at his best when he goes unnoticed by shutting down offensive rushes against quickly and not making a meal of the puck in the defensive zone.

Some more news is that he was injured with a broken arm in the early part of last season. He came back on schedule and played 38 games. Zhuravlyov also has a KHL contract that ends after the 2021-22 season, so expect him to join the Colorado Eagles in March or April of next year, whenever Ak Bars Kazan gets knocked out of the playoffs. He’ll still be 21 then and an exciting prospect to start projecting into the NHL. For now, we’re just hoping he progresses at a nice pace (which he is doing).

Personally, I like the type of defensemen that have the ability to control the play and make things happen, but don’t often have the opportunity to do so because there’s someone much better next to them to do it. In order to make those pairs work, defensemen who are often the ones deferring the puck need to be cool under pressure, both if they get stuck with the puck and when stopping defensive rushes without the puck. I can see that Zhuravlyov has the former in the clip below. As for the latter, I just don’t know from my perspective until we get him into North America. I would’ve been really nice to find an article with quotes from his coach about him, but we can’t always be so lucky.

Zhuravlyov is definitely a prospect to watch and could be a valuable top-six defenseman on a cheap deal in a couple years to help augment a soon-to-be expensive team.