The Toronto Maple Leafs selected goaltender Artur Akhtyamov with their fourth round pick, 106th overall. Akhtyamov is a 6’2” goaltender playing in the MHL (Russian junior), but has spent some time in the VHL (Russian “AHL”). He had a .931 save percentage in 31 games in the MHL last season.
My first thoughts on the pick were “who?” because we didn’t have a profile on him set up at all. Funnily enough, Akhtyamov is a Dan Milstein client, just like Leafs Rodion Amirov, lya Mikheyev, Alexander Barabanov, Egor Korshkov, and Semyon Der-Arguchintsev. Wow, that’s a lot of players.
Akhtyamov plays in Kazan, the club formerly home to Leafs draft pick Slava Kara. And Timur Bilyalov, a goalie the Leafs were linked to as a potential free agent, has played in the club for many years. Many Leafs scouts would have had a chance to see Akhtyamov and decide he’s worth a shot.
“Akhtyamov wasn’t one of the 10 European goalies ranked by NHL Central Scouting and even if you approach his evaluation with the understanding that most NHL teams differ from their central body’s evaluations in significant ways, his omission is eye-catching and suggests he’s not at the forefront for several people who do this for a living. That suggests value. It also makes him interesting and encouraged me to go back and review some of his games. Akhtyamov’s track record should still speak for itself. And though he has yet to be tested at the VHL or KHL level, which you’d like to see in a best-case scenario by his age, Akhtyamov shouldn’t be that far behind the other top young goalies in Russia.
And though my evaluations of goaltenders rely more heavily on numbers and sample size than on my own evaluations of their style, Akhtyamov moves well in the net, he does a good job controlling his rebounds, positionally sound but aggressive when he needs to be. He’s not the most explosive or athletic goalie in the world but he’s quick and he gets to some tough shots. There’s no reason when teams are considering taking their yearly goalie in the sixth or seventh round that he shouldn’t be in the conversation.” - Scott Wheeler, The Athletic
Artur Akhtyamov is a perfect example of how teams don’t have either of this. A Russian goalie who is killing the MHL and looks like a guy with real NHL potential, but nobody has been talking about him. European players don’t get enough press plus nobody understands goalies— TPEHockey (@TPEHockey) January 30, 2020
Toronto takes Artur Akhtyamov, who’s drum I’ve been hitting quite a bit. I’m certainly a fan, a lot of potential. Not as polished as a guy like Garand who went just before but he’s got some amazing mobility.— TPEHockey (@TPEHockey) October 7, 2020
Here’s a thread of what I’ve had to say about him. #LeafsForever https://t.co/3T8NAUO3Ii