Last year, my favourite prospect going into the draft was Logan Stankoven. He was small (5’8”) but an absolute weapon on offense. He never quits, he had tons of skill, and a wicked shot. This year he won the WHL MVP award after scoring 45 goals and 104 points in 59 games. He also just has a great name. Anyways, the Leafs didn’t have a first round pick and Dallas cruelly took him before the Leafs even had the chance, and for that I will hate them forever!
This year, the Leafs do (currently) have their first round pick, and my favourite prospect going into the draft is Gleb Trikozov. He also has a great name, and he is also just an absolute weapon on offense — tons of skill, and a wicked shot. But aside from those very broad similarities, they are also pretty different as players.
Let’s dig into how, and why I love Trikozov so much, and I will indoctrinate more to the Cult of G L E B.
THE BASICS: STATS AND CONTEXT
Weight: 185 lbs
Birth date: August 12th, 2004
Here are his draft rankings, as of writing this:
- Bob McKenzie: 64th
- Will Scouch: 8th
- Scott Wheeler: 65th
- Elite Prospects: 18th
- Dobber Prospects: 21st
- Smaht Scouting: 8th
That is a very wide spread of rankings, but I add the caveat that the Bob McKenzie’s rankings are from mid-season and have yet to be updated. I am guessing Wheeler’s ranking will see Gleb rise at least a bit, but with the situation in Russia and the uncertainty around how it will affect Russian players and development... I’m less sure how he will wind up in McKenzie’s final rankings. I was (still am) hoping that he falls to Toronto’s third round pick, so they can get two guys potentially worth first rounders. But for safety sake, I’ll include him in the group of other prospects I would love for Toronto to take even in the first round.
Part of the problem isn’t just due to the issue with Russia. Even before that happened, Gleb was not getting a lot of hype. He started getting more down the stretch, but he still did play most of his season in the MHL, in the much weaker conference, on a team located in Siberia. Not exactly drawing a prime time audience every game.
But his production did the talking. In the MHL, Gleb scored 23 goals and 45 points in 35 games and then added 11 goals and 18 points in 13 playoff games. He had another 2 points in 11 VHL games. By total points, he finished 2nd on his team, just two back of the leader who played in 21 more games than Gleb. In the whole MHL, his 1.29 point per game place puts him 11th — right behind a guy named Dmitri Ovchinnikov, who is two years older than Gleb.
In fact, if we filter for age group (U18s), Gleb’s point per game pace is 2nd in the MHL behind Matvei Michkov. If you’ve not heard of Michkov, just know that he is the next Russian phenom, and will be a top 3 pick for sure in next year’s draft. In the playoffs, Gleb had the highest point per game pace among all U18s and second among all MHL players period. He was a dominant offensive force for his team, helping them as the 6th seed in their conference reach the MHL semi finals and barely losing to the top seed in the final game.
Trikozov was also part of Russia’s only full international tournament of the season, which was the Hlinka Gretzky U18 tournament. It is sort of a mini-World U18 championship, but it is held before each league’s regular season started rather than at the end of it. There, Gleb had 5 points in 5 games and helped them win the gold.
There are two things I want to mention alongside his point totals that I think should make us appreciate it a bit more. First, his birth date. As an August kid, Gleb is one of the youngest players in the draft. By comparison to other top Russian prospects in this year’s draft, he is four months younger than Alexander Perevalov, six months younger than Ivan Miroshnichenko, and eight months younger than Danila Yurov. Second, for most of this season Gleb was playing on the third line,
So he’s got the production, albeit in a more obscure league than those that typically draw hype for high scoring prospects (CHL, NCAA, USHL, any European pro league). As usual, let’s now start digging into why Gleb is such a force on offense.
THE GOOD: COMPLETE OFFENSIVE PACKAGE
If you were to make a list of all of the skills a player can have that would help make them more of a threat on offense, it would probably look like this:
- Puck handling
- ‘Hockey IQ’ (instinct, anticipation, awareness, vision, positioning, etc)
For Gleb, he has it all. He might not be the best in this draft at any one of those skills, but he may have one of the strongest and most balanced profile of offensive skills. They may not be all elite, but they do all profile as at least above average. It’s hard to say what his strongest skill is, but the sense I get is that it could be his wrist shot. You can see him score on a variety of shots in this video of a hat trick below.
Gleb Trikozov's hat-trick from earlier this week.— Elite Prospects (@eliteprospects) February 19, 2022
The 6'1" forward shows off his powerful shot. Trikozov is ranked 15th on the EP 2022 #NHLdraft ranking.
Profile :https://t.co/XxoAzqIYqO pic.twitter.com/vWNvE6km6n
But I think the most impactful ‘skill’ he has, which helps all of his isolated skills become so high end, is his “hockey IQ”. I know that phrase elicits a lot of groans because it is often a vague thing that isn’t really clearly defined and can be used to mean anything. In this case, I mean that he is very smart about how and when he uses his skills. He has a good sense of timing, of positioning, of where other players (teammate and opponent) are on the ice, of anticipating a play developing before it happens, and so on.
Here’s a good example. He’s #71 in the red jersey.
Watching some Gleb Trikozov tape and having a blast.— Josh Tessler (@JoshTessler_) December 27, 2021
Gets boxed in, but manages to cut through an open lane. Then pivots around a fourth attacker and then completes a lateral feed underneath the attacker's stick to his forward approaching the blue line. #2022NHLDraft pic.twitter.com/Iuvc48TMGX
Gleb takes a pass in the neutral zone along the near-side boards, and gets past the first defender. A second defender cuts him off before the blueline, so Gleb cuts back inside with the puck. There he is met with a third defender who had been skating back, but he continues cutting back until he’s head back towards his own net to buy the extra time he needs and passes it under the defender’s stick and hit’s his teammate in stride for the easy zone entry. It was a 1 v 4 sequence, and he had the skill to elude them and delay for long enough until he had support from his teammates. Then he had the vision and awareness to see where they were and where they were going to get a good clean pass to them while under pressure.
Cam Robinson from EP Rinkside wrote a three player list where he profiled the ‘brightest’ players in the draft, and he elaborates on what makes Gleb ‘smart’ like this:
What cannot be discounted is his sharp mind for play creation, maximizing time and space, and the ability to pre-plan routes but with the processing speed needed to adapt on the fly.
Notice his ability to use the space, and how to change speeds to increase his opportunities to create offence for him and his mates. Finally, the faceoff push-play that led to a goal-line tally represents his propensity for pre-planning a move in a certain situation and completing it successfully.
There is a reason this young player was able to maximize his production from the down-the-lineup and continually make intelligent plays in a league that thrives on chaos much of the time. We feel his impact on the scoresheet is nice, but it’s his ability to best use his skills in conjunction with each scenario that will allow him to translate effectively to the next level.
Dobber Prospects points to similar strengths when they compare Gleb to another top Russian prospect in this draft, Ivan Miroshnichenko:
One thing that’s almost always stood out to me about Trikozov is how much more complex his intake of the game is. He’ll often not only identify the right play, but also the best way to make it. A geometry pass, a quick give-and-go, an overlap or a skill move and he’s opened up space and made his teammates’ jobs way easier. He is very comfortable absorbing pressure, showing confidence in his edgework and puck protection to draw opponents in and clear up space. The word “facilitator” couldn’t be a better fit for how Trikozov approaches the game.
The anticipation inherent to his game makes him such a good connector of plays. When Trikozov gets the puck, you can bet on the puck ending up in a better position than it was before he got it. He can work on the forehand and the backhand, and has a level of tenacity and drive that Miroshnichenko can only dream of. Although Gleb’s goal-scoring and skating might not be as refined as Miro’s, the bigger picture — how good he is at creating and facilitating possession and scoring chances for his team — is all in his favor.
And Will Scouch, arguably the founder and Pope of the Cult of Gleb, said this in his full profile:
He thinks quickly, knows where linemates are, and the angles he’s comfortable passing pucks makes him potentially just as lethal a playmaker as he is a rush quarterback and goal scorer. Quick shoulder checks and strong awareness of space allows him to also make clear pass options well to maintain possession when pressure is on the way.
THE FLAWS: OFF-PUCK CONSISTENCY
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: a highly skilled forward shows inconsistent effort without the puck when playing junior as a teenager. Yes, it’s that same old trope, but it’s a trope for a reason and it seems to be true for Gleb as well.
Let’s get the caveats out of the way. It doesn’t seem like Gleb’s effort at defense or playing without the puck is bad, or at least not consistently bad. He has shown flashes of chasing after a puck carrier with dogged determination, erasing him along the boards, and forcing a turnover. He also uses his high level ability to anticipate a play developing to pick off passes. There is clearly ability there to at least be around an average defensive forward.
But for now you can definitely see him with moments where he zones out. I notice this more in the defensive end, where the other team is cycling it around and Gleb is not directly part of the play. He sometimes has those “Controller Disconnected” moments where he completely stops moving at all, and as such is not ready to react when the play comes towards him again. He also showed moments where he was chasing after a puck carrier and at times just kinda... gets ignored or shrugged off too easily.
Here is another quote from Mr. Scouch:
While I had the feeling Trikozov’s physical play improved over the year, some shifts and games made him look like a very different player, and I found myself often wanting just a little bit more, and it could’ve gone a long way. With his speed, he could easily close gaps before the puck exits the offensive zone, and I found he was hesitant, only to toss the player aside in the neutral zone and his team gets the chance to come the other way. I might be nitpicky, but I am never a fan of players who can be caught literally standing still in the defensive zone with how quickly the flow of play can change and how quickly smart offensive players can capitalize on open gaps, and it limits his ability to stop cycles.
One positive thing to note is I have read that when he was in the VHL, his inconsistent effort was far less common. The MHL is a bit of a weird league that way. I have seen some scouts note he maintained a more intense level of pressuring puck carriers and not getting caught floating or not moving in his end. He does have the tools to be a decent defensive forward, its a matter of applying them at a higher level.
There is also a standard issue of strength. Gleb at 6’1” is a good height, but he could definitely be stronger and fill out with some muscle. He is a younger prospect than most, and against bigger and stronger opponents he had issues getting pushed around along the boards at times.
Gleb is a higher reward, higher risk pick than anyone else I’ve written about so far. However, that’s typically what you will get with a late first rounder. Prospects in this range will either be safer, but still have decent upside (middle six, second pair, etc) or higher upside with bigger questions and more risk. Gleb falls into the latter group.
He has played center, and his puck handling skills does work well for a guy who plays that position. However I do see him more like a William Nylander in that regard. He could be asked to play center at times, but he will likely be better served playing on the wing most of the time. The potential is there, especially if he does wind up realizing more of the two-way potential his skills seem to hint at.
What I love about Gleb is the complete offensive package. The skating, shot, play making, anticipation, transition ability, powerplay ability, goal scoring, everything is there and could only get better in time. The more he develops his skills, the more he adds strength, the better he will become. And as Will Scouch noted, him applying himself defensively will only mean he winds up with the puck more often, and that’s a good thing.
I do think that Gleb is worth a late first round pick. Others may have him even higher, but I am less sure of that. Bob had him ranked just outside the second round in the mid-season rankings, but I think that will only fall. He did have a very strong second half of the season and playoff run, but he has the big Russia issue working against him. He also did not get to play in any major international tournament — he did play at the Hlinka, but was not part of Russia’s WJC team that only played in two games. Meanwhile, other prospects who really raised their profile in those tournaments and who seem like safer picks will likely pass him in the final rankings.
So I do think that Gleb is almost a lock to be available in the late first round, and I think even has a chance to fall to the Leafs in the third round. A team with a lot of picks may be more willing to bet on him after they already take a bunch of ‘safer’ picks, though. To be honest, I’d be happy taking Gleb outright. But I think he is a perfect candidate for a trade down. He’ll likely be available in the second round, so if the Leafs acquire a second through a player trade, or a trade down from their first, he’d be ideal.
The other thing is that Gleb’s agent is Dan Milstein, who the Leafs seem to have a good relationship with. If they wanted to know more about him, and what his plans for the near future are, they could get some kind of reassurance before the draft that it would be fine to take him. But if you are still worried, you could take safer but still very good picks at 25th, or even in the second round, and just cross your fingers that he’s still available in the third round to get great value in that spot.
The Leafs may not have gotten S T A N K, but I am sitting here begging Kyle Dubas to consider giving us G L E B.
Are you ready to join the Cult of G L E B?
This poll is closed
Give me the kool-aid now!
Ehhh maybe if they trade down
Only if he is still available in the third round
I want no part of an MHL forward with inconsistent effort