The next player on our Top 25 Under 25 list for 2016 is newly minted Hawks prospect Artur Kayumov. The Blackhawks selected the talented Russia winger with the No. 50 overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, and he was a key to the Blackhawks pulling in a rather strong draft class.
Birth date: Feb. 14, 1998
Acquired via: Second round (No. 50 overall) in 2016 NHL Entry Draft
Most recent stop: Team Russia U-18
Size: 5’11, 172 pounds
Contract: None (signed in Russia for two more years)
Kayumov joins the rather long list of extremely skilled offensive forwards to come out of Russia. He posted 31 points (12 goals, 19 assists) in 39 appearances for Russia’s U-18 team in 2015-16, adding 12 points (3 goals, 9 assists) in nine international tournament games.
Prior to joining the U-18 team, he was playing with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl in MHL (KHL’s junior league), where he split the 2014-15 campaign between the main MHL club, the U-17 squad and the MHL B-league team. In total, he posted 65 points (28 goals, 37 assists) in 65 games between those three squads during the 2014-15 season.
Kayumov’s strengths lie everywhere but his frame. He is very fast, agile on his skates, flashes hockey IQ and can use all that to create good chances. ESPN’s Corey Pronman ranked him No. 64 on his pre-draft top 100 list, offering some real praise for his offensive potential:
One of the players hurt most by the Russian doping scandal was Kayumov, who had been one of the top players on the new Russian under-18 program throughout the season. He's small, but every other element of his game impresses. Kayumov is a very good skater, displaying above-average to high-end speed and acceleration. He's able to slow the game down with the puck, making deft touch plays and evading pressure. Kayumov is a game-breaking offensive talent, and he creates a lot of his own opportunities. Despite his size, he's shown that he can be a useful penalty-killer based on his speed and can even win some battles. He has the intangibles to push himself past his physical deficiencies if a team is willing to take a shot on him this summer.
That bit about the doping scandal is notable for Kayumov’s development. He was one of many Russians on their U-18 team to test positive for meldonium, a banned substance, earlier this year, which is why he didn’t play at the World Junior Championships. That likely played to the Blackhawks’ advantage in Kayumov still being available at No. 50, but it also brings up questions about his development and how the missed time affects him.
Kayumov doesn’t quite project as a two-way superstar, but his offensive skill is unique in the Hawks’ system. It’s not often we hear one of their prospects described as a “game-breaking talent,” so it’s obviously exciting to see what happens from here. He’s the kind of high-risk, high-reward prospect that every franchise needs a few of, and if his game progresses, Kayumov could quickly become one of the best prospects in the organization.
What's next in 2016-17
Kayumov will return to Russia, where he remains under contract with Loko Yaroslavl for the next two seasons. Given that he can no longer play for Russia’s U-18 team in the MHL, he’ll likely play for Yaroslavl either in that league or for the main KHL squad. He should also have a good chance of making Russia’s WJC for the 2017 tournament, although it’s unclear how the doping scandal will impact his international career going forward.
Second City Hockey's Top 25 Under 25 rankings
No. 16: Artur Kayumov
No. 17: Carl Dahlstrom
No. 18: Dennis Gilbert
No. 19: Luc Snuggerud
No. 20: Robin Norell
No. 21: Robin Press
No. 22: Dylan Sikura
No. 23: Graham Knott
No. 24: Anthony Louis
No. 25: Roy Radke
Honorable mentions: Radovan Bondra, Joni Tuulola, Mathias From, John Dahlstrom, Lucas Carlsson