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Semyon Der-Arguchintsev makes our list within the top-20, but is the first player trending away from the Leafs than towards it. If you didn't know already, SDA, drafted by the Leafs in the third round in 2018, is heading to the KHL on a two-year deal with Traktor Chelyabinsk.
|Age as of July 1||22.79|
This is a move that was reported on when Traktor paid for SDA's signing rights from his old club Torpedo and was confirmed by the team on their website where he's listed among one of the forwards this season. In fact, looking at the roster, he'll have some Leaf connections with him in the form of Nikita Soshnikov. Former top picks Zach Fucale and Vitaly Kravtsov are also on the team.
The story for SDA, at only the age of 22, has turned from what can you do for me now to what were you able to accomplish while you were here. In his 2.5 seasons in Toronto, SDA scored 72 points in 101 AHL games for the Marlies, and played one game with the Leafs where I don't think he stood out, but also didn't completely pooch it.
At his age, which is basically 23 now, he had reached the level on the team where he was a worthy injury replacement worthy of a shot. Unfortunately, the Leafs weren't able to keep him, instead he's going to go back to the KHL where he was a top-six centre (pre-invasion) and a difference-maker. His contract will be up in two seasons, where there's a small possibility he tries to make another run at the NHL.
Mark Rackham, aka MarkUkLeaf, made a compilation video of all of SDA's points from this past season.
From the highlights it's very clear that SDA's passing prowess next to Nick Robertson (and Pavel Gogolev) developed and continued at the pro level (next to Adam Gaudette). SDA's cross-ice pass was deadly, and his vision from the wing allowed him to feast on the power play, where 43% of his points last season came from.
Despite the Marlies goal rates and penalty kill being in the mediocre category, the team sported the second-best power play in the AHL, which lofted them (along with Joseph Woll's winning streak) to a division title and sixth in the league.
The Alex Kerfoot-esque centre definitely had moments where he wired up the pace of his play – namely his stick handling in tight and release. There was a highlight last year where he went between the legs from his backhand to score on Cleveland.
I think the criticism, which is the case for so many bottom six players with promise, is that he didn't do it frequently enough to make more of an impact. A lot of SDA's production came from moving the puck up the ice and being that middle man – namely for AAAAdam Gaudette.
Moving forward, SDA is going to be in the Denis Malgin world of former prospect who might still come back before he's 25 and make the team.
When it comes to the votes, we were split on whether to vote on the player himself and his disqualification from making the Leafs in the next year or two. I was on the fence, which is probably why I voted him lower than he should've been if he was going to be on the Marlies this year. But if we have prospects who are years away from making a difference, we can give SDA some love, too.
It's unfortunate that he's now a long shot, but credit to him for playing a game in the NHL and developing into a good pro centre. That's an accomplishment and a successful North American pro career (at least for now).
Brian: He’s another of the prospects who looked fun in junior, but I didn’t really think he showed enough in the AHL to make me think he had much of an NHL future. I was actually surprised when he got called up to play in the one NHL game. To me, he may have a different profile of skills, strengths and flaws as Ovchinnikov, but I think they’ll both follow the same path… back to Russia, never to return to North America again.
dhammm: SDA's contract with Traktor Chelyabinsk augurs poorly for his NHL prospects overall, which is tragic given the encouraging year he put together in the AHL. Prospects like SDA, Steeves, and Abruzzese profile similarly as the kind of depth forward prospects that often don't become meaningful NHLers, sometimes become tweeners, but rarely, when fortunate, turn into Ondrej Palat or Carter Verhaeghe. But SDA’s gone, possibly never to return, and his only NHL game was a special teams showcase. Hate to see it.
Catch-67: I’ve been a big SDA fan since the Leafs drafted him, and I really enjoyed getting to see him in an NHL game this past season. That said, he wasn’t particularly great in that game, and his move back to the KHL makes me think that that’ll end up being his only NHL game ever. Initially, I had planned on not ranking him for this reason, but there aren’t enough players to rank above him. I think he’ll go on to have a long and successful KHL career, anyway, that’s not nothing.
Zone Entry: I almost left SDA off my list completely since it seems all but guaranteed he’s gone for good, and “potential to contribute to the Leafs’ NHL lineup” feels to me like it should factor in, but I relented upon considering that his intrinsic value is still well ahead of many other prospects and it would be unfair to dismiss that. I guess it’s the balancing act between “Top 25 prospective Leafs” and “Top 25 prospects, filtered by the Leafs currently owning their rights”.
My memory is that SDA’s one NHL game was a special-teams-fest that left very little time for 5v5 fourth-line shifts, and I was hoping he’d get one more game, but alas.
The Bag: SDA had a good D+2 season with the Petes (with 63 assists feeding the puck to what we hope wasn’t Peak Nick Robertson), and since then has played with the Marlies. Until now. I’ve always had a bit of a hard time seeing how he succeeds in the NHL as a playmaker, and we may never get the chance to find out whether he would have. He doesn’t seem to figure in the Leafs’ plans and I’m not sure that’s a mistake. Best of luck, SDA.
Cathy: So this is where I get a little confused. I’ve been doing these lists for years, and I don’t at all understand how external factors unrelated to the player’s abilities to play hockey factor into value unless you are absolutely ranking on "value to the Leafs". Frederik Gauthier wasn’t better because he was played in the NHL due to a lack of Leafs depth. Der-Arguchintsev isn’t worse for choosing Russia over the AHL. He’s still just a guy who is very good at what he does, can play pro hockey with great success at some levels and ain’t an NHLer. Russia, the Coca-Cola Coliseum, it’s all the same. He’s the same. A good pro.
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