It’s yet another large prospect joining the Chicago Blackhawks organization.
With the 12th pick in the sixth round — No. 172 overall — the Blackhawks selected forward Ilya Safonov.
Safonov, 20, is 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds and spent last season with Ak Bars Kazan in the KHL, scoring two goals with two assists in 37 games during the regular season. In 11 playoff games, Safonov added three assists. He also played for Team Russia in the World Juniors, adding a pair of goals during seven games in that tournament.
Here are some comments on Safonov from Dan Marr, director of NHL Central Scouting, as reported by TSN in December just before the World Juniors:
Marr says the 19-year-old has been deployed by world juniors coach Igor Larionov in a variety of game situations at the Karjala Cup and other tournaments, and expects more of the same in Edmonton.
“He’s just a really strong, mobile skater (with) good vision. He’s got a real good knack to be in the right place at the right time. Good puck-moving game, smart playmaker, he just competes hard,” said Marr.
“It’s a 19-year-old tournament and he’s got that physical strength and maturity (along with) the skating and the skills to where he could be a go-to guy (for Russia).”
[UPDATE] There’s a pretty good chance that, if you’re a frequent visitor to this site or just a Blackhawks fan in general, you’ve seen Safonov in action before.
It’s just not a good memory, as former SCH site manager Brandon Cain put together on Twitter:
New #Blackhawks prospect Ilya Safonov (#2021NHLDraft sixth) is the Russian player that Kirby Dach collided with during a #WorldJuniors pre-tournament game and Dach broke his right wrist, which required surgery. Dach missed 34 games before he made his 2021 debut.— Brandon Cain (@brandonmcain) July 24, 2021
Here’s the video, if you’re a glutton for punishment. Safonov is No. 24 in white: