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Colorado Avalanche Top 25 Under 25: #25 Nikita Ishimnikov

An 18-year-old Russian defenseman with a large frame offers a low-risk, high-reward prospect.

@avsinsider (Instagram)

The Top 25 Under 25 is a Mile High Hockey staff collaboration. Five writers have ranked players under 25 as of July 1, 2023, in the Colorado Avalanche organization. Now, we’ll count down each of the 25 players ranked.

Drafted in the fifth round, Ishiminikov is one of a few Russian prospects to have been selected by the Avalanche in Nashville at this season’s NHL entry draft. At just 18 years of age and with a big frame, this young man could grow into quite the player someday. A lot will have to go right for the young man, but he has potential and upside as a young defender with a scoring touch.

Nikita was born in Snezhinsk, Russia, and celebrated his 18th birthday in April, making him a very young prospect. He led his Russian Junior squad in goals as a defender and was second in points scored. He will need more time in his junior league before he jumps to the KHL. If he adds maybe 10-15 pounds of muscle but stays lean enough to improve explosiveness and speed, we could have a 5th round dark horse NHLer.

You should notice two or three things from the highlight above. Like most young prospects, the accurate barometer of his success will depend on how his skating improves over the next few years. It looks like he was at the end of a shift on this particular play, but he will need to add some speed to his game to approach a higher level. That said, he’s got a solid shot and isn’t afraid to jump into the play and contribute offensively. Lastly, check out the flow on this kid—some serious lettuce.

If Ishimnikov takes the traditional route, we should hope to see him represent his country in IIHF World Juniors. The timing of when or if he makes the Russian Junior roster will signal the rate of his development and potential over the next few years.

Let us know what you think of this prospect in the comments!