Dmitri Ovchinnikov had some fans last year as a draft eligible prospect out of Russia’s junior league, the MHL. That number obviously grew once he became a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs organization in early October. Kyle Dubas traded up to take him with a fifth round pick, so there must’ve been something to him, right?
This year, Ovchinnikov got his feet wet in the KHL to start the season but has since gone back to the MHL where he’s lit up the league once again with 32 points in 20 games, averaging three shots per game in 23 minutes per night. That TOI number seemed pretty extraordinary at first, and after looking into where he ranks within the league, he’s first among forwards with 10 or more games.
Ovchinnikov is near the top of the league in the MHL, and at the ago of 18 he’s still playing well within his age group. I’ve often seen 21 or 22-year-olds ripping up the MHL because they’re bigger and older than everyone else. Ovchinnikov is not that.
However, the MHL is a pretty weak league relative to the other mainstream leagues in Europe. It’s a junior league and defense is very often optional there. Ovchinnikov is doing well where he is but he still has a long way to go. I hope we can see him in the KHL next year or the year after — or at least on a better MHL team than his because Sibirskie is pretty bad. His performances in a better league with better players will give us a lot clearer an indication of his ability compared to the AHL and NHL.
He’s a great skater who works hard all over the ice and has some really impressive puck skills in his repertoire; I just think we can all agree he’s not going to be the guy standing next to Mitch Marner in the photo above. However, a long-term project that we can stow away before he jumps over to North America at 23 and shocks us all in a potential middle-six role? I am ready to be excited about that.
Across the 21 final rankings I tracked, @theTonyFerrari and I were the only ones with him 65th or higher, and I'm still kicking myself for thinking Toronto wouldn't trade up to draft him.— Will Scouch (@Scouching) November 30, 2020
Of course they did.
Ovchinnikov is now over a 55%INV through 19 games. https://t.co/KGWovFbJ68
Various Hockey Branches
MLSE to move 25% of staff to inactive status amid pandemic — Bloomberg News
25% of MLSE’s full-time staff have been temporarily laid off and put on temporary inactive status. The company has also said they will be reducing the salaries of executives and senior management starting in January 2021. MLSE is partly owned by Rogers Communications, who have also seen their fair share of cuts, notably on the baseball side.
The players said this after getting knocked out of the playoffs. They need to be tougher to play against and more resilient to opposing pressure. Dubas repeated that feeling yesterday on a radio hit on TSN. Anyone else feel like the Leafs are ramping up for training camps, even though one doesn’t look like it’s going to be on the horizon in 2020?
Kyle Dubas on core group: "If they're willing to sacrifice a little bit in each of their own individual realms as all young teams do & young superstars & players have to go through ... then we'll really reach our full potential"— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) November 30, 2020
Kyle, you don’t have to act like you didn’t watch the Tampa Bay Lightning in the playoffs and your recent moves to mimic their roster composition came from a plan all the way back in 2016.
Kyle Dubas on dressing 7 defencemen: "The depth of our D would lend itself to this & I wouldn't be surprised to see us use it from time to time during the season ..."— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) November 30, 2020
Notes that Sheldon Keefe called Jon Cooper back in 2016 to talk about ithttps://t.co/wOkuKEG5dY
Also I wanted to share this from a few days ago because, shocker, coaches sound a lot alike!
Sheldon Keefe dropping the "pressure is a privilege" line in here and I did a double-take because you know who really loved the pressure-is-a-privilege speech was Michael Babcock— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) November 29, 2020
Speaking of players who need to do more, Mitch Marner might have an overrated contract, but Patrick Kane is comfortably the most overrated player in my lifetime.
Pick a player, you get him for one season (2020-21).— Travis Yost (@travisyost) November 30, 2020
In other news, Morgan Rielly is an invaluable teammate and is doing some amazing work with fellow Leaf Hayley Wickenheiser!
The QMJHL is shutting down until January 3rd.
The QMJHL will pause until January 3rd. pic.twitter.com/uHGoCKCW4F— Willy Palov (@WillyPalov) November 30, 2020
Similarly, the Liiga is struggling mightily with containing COVID-19 and have had to postpone a staggering number of games.
UPDATE: Challenging situation in Finnish #Liiga; After IFK Helsinki, Pelicans Lahti and the Tampere clubs Tappara and Ilves, now also Kärpät Oulu must postpone home games (6) due to the stricter Corona-restrictions in the respective regions. TPS Turku may follow on Tuesday. https://t.co/5w9Kje47ea— EuropeanHockeyClubs (@EHCAlliance) November 30, 2020