Pavel Dorofeyev quietly had one of the best seasons from any 2019 draft eligible. He wasn’t present at any of the big international tournaments like the Hlinka Gretzky Cup or IIHF under-18 world championships because of age, but all the while he was setting the MHL on fire and gaining valuable experience in the KHL. He did it with high-end vision and a fearless mentality of attacking from inside the circles. While the Russian factor still lingers for some, there has been no serious indication of Dorofeyev’s reluctance to come over to North America.
Pundits have developed a strong liking to the Russian winger, more so than professional evaluators. I lean closer to the latter, as Dorofeyev at times can look lethargic and lack urgency. Measuring his consistency was a difficult task, as he was teetering between two leagues that were mismatches. One he was too good for and one he wasn’t good enough for.
|Birthday||October 26, 2000|
Skating: 50 – Puck Skills: 55 – Hockey IQ/Sense: 55 – Physicality: 45
As mentioned prior, Dorofeyev’s best trait is his vision. He demonstrated the ability to locate his teammates by slipping the puck into tight lanes on a regular basis. He processes the game with patience and waiting for lanes to open, playing a lot behind the goal-line. What I love about his playmaking style is he’ll take a hit to make a play. He doesn’t shy away from putting himself in harm’s way if it means he can make a play that will help his team. You don’t normally see that in players who have a slight frame like Dorofeyev.
Dorofeyev has the makeup of being not just a dynamic playmaking winger, but also as a dangerous sniper. I wouldn’t make him the triggerman on the powerplay, but he’s shown flashes of being able to pick the corner. You can’t overlook his goal scoring ability or else he’ll make you pay. His ability to get his shot off is impressive. He knows how to drag the puck around defenders and find his best percentage shot at the net. His tendency to cut to the middle of the ice further emphasizes his acceptance of contact. I came away a bit surprised at how well he is able to protect the puck.
When Dorofeyev gets his opportunity he takes advantage. His shots are accurate and have velocity on them.
The way he dissects the opposition is in large part due to his intelligence and maturity. The MHL was a cake walk for him — being an October 2000 birthday — and there was no real challenge for him. It’s not an overly physical, nor fast league. He knew how to take advantage of sub-par competition, and that became evident when he was promoted to the KHL.
Dorofeyev has good puck skills, but it’s not the calling card of his game. You won’t see too many flashy toe-drags and stick-handles of that nature. That brings up the question of just how skilled he is. He wasn’t attempting to many high-skilled plays in a league lacking pace, which doesn’t exactly bode well for when he decides to transition to the fastest league in the world. He certainly isn’t a burner, but I would have less of a problem with his not-so-spectacular skating if he tried to make more plays directly on his stick more often.
Those concerns start to spider web into his urgency. His lack of pace becomes much more noticeable and its hard to overlook. He isn’t lazy off the puck, but sometimes that is what it looks like. That type of description is hard to digest when considering him with a high draft pick. Especially when you can see the rewards that come with his playmaking ability and shot.
Take all that into account and I don’t see any sort of stardom upside. The number one priority on my draft board is to select players with elite upside, players who have potential to be true first-liners or top-pair defensemen. You won’t be getting that with Dorofeyev, which is why I did not grade him as a first round prospect. But there are still aspects of him to like. The tools are there, the intelligence is there. If you can land that type of player in the second round or on then that’s a good selection. There is no guarantee, but Dorofeyev could find himself waiting to here his name called on day two.
The development of Russians is always a hot topic. KHL contracts are tough to get out of and the players enjoy staying close to home. In Dorofeyev’s case I haven’t seen or heard any major concerns regarding his willingness to come to North America at some point, as mentioned before.
Nevertheless, I’ve discussed before why the Russian factor should not scare teams off from clear NHL talent. If you have to wait — wait. Draft picks are a long-term investment. I’m sure the Washington Capitals are glad they took a swing on Evgeny Kuznetsov, despite taking a few extra years to bring him over.
I have no idea how long Dorofeyev plans to stay in his home country. But I know the KHL is a great place to develop, having some of the strongest competition outside of North America. In three or four years, Dorofeyev will start to leave his mark on the NHL. I won’t call him a project, but I do believe he’ll need more patience so that his skating can improve.