I take joy in the fact that the two Russian players I am profiling this year are both named Igor/Yegor, and I can make the same joke with the header image.

In my earlier profile on Chernysov, I touched on the whole Russian issue when it comes to scouting and drafting Russian players. I think the main "issue" is that players currently in Russia being able or willing to make their way to North America to the AHL, NHL, or even various junior or college leagues. There's also a concern about not having as much information on them, as going to physically scout them and watch them play in Russia is limited by the whole war thing. By now, however, I think the first concern is overblown and the second is something that teams, scouts and agents can address.

One thing that has come out since then is that Dan Milstein – an NHL player agent for many Russian players – is hosting a special showcase in North America for NHL teams to see the top Russian prospects play against each other. This is being held right before the draft itself.

None of the above has anything to do with Surin. This concludes my intro to his profile.


  • Position: Left-shot centre/winger
  • League(s): MHL
  • Height: 6'1"
  • Weight: 192 lbs
  • Birthdate: August 1st, 2006

Here are his draft rankings, as of writing this:

  • Bob McKenzie: 43rd
  • Will Scouch: 63rd
  • Elite Prospects: 63rd
  • Scott Wheeler: 41st
  • Dobber Prospects: 61st
  • FC Hockey: 57th
  • McKeen's Hockey: 30th

Surin came into this season as a 5'10", small, skilled forward with a reputation as a pest. He had the most points for all U17 players in the MHL last season. That season, and the one before it, he led all Russian players in whatever international games they could manage having been banned from all the usual tournaments. So he's been a top prospect for them in his age group, and was their Captain last year, despite being on the younger side with an August birthday.

Since the start of last season, Surin's had a growth spurt. He's now listed as 6'1" and 192 lbs, and his game went from being that of a pest to that of a power forward – with some lingering pest-like qualities. He finished with the 2nd most points in the MHL for U18 players, with 22 goals and 52 points in 42 games. He also had the 2nd most penalty minutes of all players in the league regardless of age, with 108. He later added 30 penalty minutes in 19 playoff games, to foreshadow a later section. This, despite him having a normal level of penalties in previous years.

In the MHL playoffs, led his team with 23 points in 19 games. That was 3rd in the league behind two of the top players on the team that beat him in the MHL finals. The guy who finished first, Ivan Demidov, will likely be a top 5 pick in this year's draft. Suffice to say, Surin has been a top player in the MHL for the last two seasons, and got a taste of three KHL games. He might have gotten more, but his KHL club – Loko Yaroslavl – was loaded in both the MHL and KHL, where both teams lost in the finals.

From Lassi Alanen's European tracking project: https://www.patreon.com/user/posts?u=13951676


Surin's development the past two seasons has been interesting to read about. It does sound like his playing style did shift as he went from being a bit undersized, to being a bit bigger than average. He very quickly seemed to develop a power game that made use of his size, but he had the kind of skilled game as a foundation from his years as a smaller guy.

Let's start with the skill. I'm relying on older scouting reports, but it sounds like Surin had some pre-season hype as a potential first rounder because he had a strong reputation as a dual-threat handling the puck. He got rave reviews for his puck handling and playmaking, but was also a good goal scorer. He was said to have a good shot, and from his stats he was both a high volume shooter who also seemed to have the skill to be able to shoot it from dangerous areas on the ice a lot. These things all carried into this season.

From Jake Janso at FC Hockey:

Surin is a skillful playmaking winger with a calm, composed demeanor and a nose for finding the soft spots of the ice. His adept puckhandling and advanced lane recognition make him an exciting play-driving force whenever he has the puck. He uses his soft hands to outmaneuver opponents and pressure with ease, usually beating multiple layers of defense and then his mind for the play recognizes passes that most wouldn’t see. His head is always up and scanning, which allows Surin to stay steps ahead of the players around him.

The other good element to Surin's game is that he shows some two-way potential, and has a lot of versatility. He was used on both wings and as a centre, he was a top powerplay and penalty kill guy, and honestly at times I thought he showed some impressive defensive ability using his size and skating. Overall, I think his skating right now is only a bit above average, but he can be very relentless and just slippery enough with his size to make life difficult. I think given his relatively young age, and very recent growth spurt, that he may take a bit longer than his peers to fully figure out his skating.

From Scott Wheeler at The Athletic:

He’s a good skater who plays with plenty of pace and tempo to hunt and win pucks or push play down ice. He can play all three forward positions. He excels on the flank on the power play because of his plus-vision and a dangerously quick release from midrange. He’s very physical and plays with a real chip on his shoulder.

What I like about Surin is I can see multiple ways that he can become an NHLer. If his skill plays up and makes some good improvements in his development, he can become an impact offensive power forward. Even if it doesn't, his physicality, versatility and two-way potential could make him a useful bottom-six guy and supporting player to better line-drivers.

In some of the highlight clips that I'm sharing, you can see some of his defensive plays. He can be dogged on the puck and puck carriers, and uses his newfound physical edge to punish them into the boards. Or just outmuscle them off the puck or out of position in front. He has a good sense of his positioning in his own end, and can read plays developing to make timely stick lifts or tying up his man.

From Graham Montgomery at Dobber Prospects:

A feisty and physical offensively minded center. Surin plays with an edge, evident by his tendency to take unnecessary penalties. There is some upside as a playmaker, although he often takes an individualistic approach to creating offense. His motor and pace of play are both highlights, showing potential to be a bottom-six energy player.


So... back to those penalty minutes. Despite his pre-season hype, scouts seemed to sour a bit on him through this season, and it seems to be for two related reasons. First, he seemed to have some very poor discipline at times. He went from averaging well under one hit and one penalty minute per game the previous season, to over two hits and two penalty minutes per game this season. His newfound size led to newfound aggression, but he hasn't learned to play on the right side of the line yet. I like guys who are physical – see Matthew Knies – but a guy who takes a penalty every single game is a liability.

Related to the discipline issue is a common problem for top Russian prospects in junior – Surin had some poor decision making at times with the puck. It's that kind of poor decision making where he'd try to one-man-army his way through all five defenders on his own and turn it over. This is something I've seen a fair amount myself watching the MHL over the past few years, and I do know this kind of thing can be something they grow out of as they adjust to playing in the VHL and especially the KHL.

That said, these days I am more skeptical about players that show concerning decision making on the ice. I've seen some studies linking high penalty minutes in junior to poor quality NHLers in the future, and in the recent past I've liked guys who had issues with decision making with the puck and hand waved it as a red flag. "Decision making" is such a nebulous thing that is hard to try and project improvement. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't, but it's doesn't seem like it's a mechanical skill that can be improved with practice.


All of that said, I am choosing to look at the big picture for Surin and not just focus on this past season. If you look at his history, this season looks like the outlier. I get the impression he was always a scrappy smaller guy who had to play smart to make his playstyle work with his size and skill. But as he grew bigger, he started developing a power game when he had no real experience doing it before.

Surin's point production and tracking data look sterling. His play on the ice can look very strong when he's really on, and he has some exciting tools to work with that he didn't a year ago. I do think that with his physical growth and his relatively young age that he is adjusting to his new circumstances, and has more room to develop his game as a result.

That said, I get why he wouldn't be considered a first round pick anymore. As enticing as his skills and tools may seem, those red flags are tough to gamble on for a top pick. And his strengths are not so good that it's enough to overlook the flaws, at least not yet.

In his most recent rankings, Bob McKenzie had Surin at 43rd. That's actually one of the better rankings for him compared to almost every other public scouting outlet. He did have the strong playoffs in the MHL, but I would not be surprised to see his final ranking either stay about the same or even drop a bit.

Regardless, Surin is the kind of swing I'd make if Toronto winds up with an extra pick in the second round. That may come if they trade down from their first round pick, or if they made a player trade that gets them a second somehow. He definitely feels like a bit more of a longer term project than a first rounder would be, but if Toronto finds himself in that circumstance then it's an interesting pick I'd be considering.

Thanks for reading!

I put a lot of work into my prospect articles here, both for the draft and Toronto's prospects. I do it as a fun hobby for me, and I'd probably do it in some capacity even if PPP completely ceased to exist. But if you like reading my work, some support would go a long way! I pay for a few streaming services (CHL, NCAA, USHL, the occasional TSN options for international tournaments that are broadcast) to be able to reliably watch these prospects in good quality streams. I also pay for some prospect-specific resources, such as tracking data and scouting reports from outlets like Elite Prospects, Future Considerations, McKeen's Hockey, The Athletic, and more.

Being able to get paid for this helps me dedicate more time and resources to it, rather than to second/third jobs. And whatever money I make here, a lot of I reinvest back into my prospect work through in those streaming and scouting services. Like I said, I'd be doing whatever I can afford for this anyway, so any financial help I get through this is greatly appreciated!

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