The 2018 NHL draft is underway – and it’s already looking like a vintage year for young Russian talent. Here are a few numbers to tell you why:
At the top of the bill, Carolina took Andrei Svechnikov, a product of the Ak Bars school, as the second pick overall. That’s the highest-ranked Russian player since Edmonton Oilers gambled on Nail Yakupov as the #1 pick back in 2012.
Traktor’s Vitaly Kravtsov, now heading for New York Rangers, was the #9 pick, meaning two Russians went in the top 10 for the first time since 2004. The sought-after pair that year were Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeny Malkin, who were chosen first and second by Washington and Pittsburgh.
Two Russian players – Grigory Denisenko (Florida Panthers) and Alexander Alexeyev (Washington Capitals) make up the quartet – were chosen in the first round. That’s the highest number since 2015, and the joint-highest since the KHL started.