In the 2018 pre-season the Toronto Maple Leafs kept the newly drafted Semyon Der-Arguchintsev in camp longer than anyone expected, and he made his Scotiabank Arena debut in a pre-season game before being sent back to the Peterborough Petes of the Ontario Hockey League. His long time in camp and how easy it was to give him a nickname - SDA is much more memorable and easier to type - that he became one of the Leafs most talked about prospects of that draft, probably more than first round pick Rasmus Sandin.
An easily remembered prospect is always under a bit more of a microscope, and one that plays in the OHL near(ish) to Toronto gets even more attention. His raw numbers dropped after being drafted - his goals went from 12 down to six - but he played six fewer games post-draft and had the same PPG pre- and post-draft, 0.75.
After the Petes were eliminated in the first round that year, he would make his professional hockey debut with the ECHL Newfoundland Growlers, scoring a goal and an assist in three regular season games, and then adding on another goal and assist in nine playoff games for the Growlers en-route to the teams first Kelly Cup win.
This season SDA had a short time at camp; with the Leafs roster almost being set before camp began, the majority of junior players were sent down after the first weekend. Newly drafted Nick Robertson was SDA’s teammate in Peterborough, and the spotlight came off SDA and onto the second round pick.
While Robertson was gathering the headlines, SDA’s play improved in his draft+1 year, in 55 games he scored 12 goals and added 63 assists, giving him 75 points in 55 games, or 1.35 points per game - nearly doubling his output from the previous two seasons.
The Petes were looking to make an impact on the OHL playoffs, adding 2020 World Juniors hero Akil Thomas to the roster at the OHL trade deadline, and finishing the season second in the Eastern conference. Whatever damage this team could have done before the cancellation will be a fantasy in our minds, as they’ll struggle to get the gang back together for whenever the next season is.
Votes - Semyon Der-Arguchintsev
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The spread on voting for SDA was anywhere in the middle ten. Some went as high as eleventh, other had him down at 20th. The comments from voters paint SDA as a very good froward, but someone who needs to keep working to stay afloat in the professional ranks.
Katya: Last year I wrote about SDA, and how we were perceiving him vs Nick Robertson. The story of their 2018-2019 seasons in the OHL was growth rates and who had improved. I showed that while SDA’s points had remained static, his usage, the terrible power play and randomness were most of the explanation. The response was as expected: But his points, though. Which brings us to this summer after SDA put up all the points you could ever want, obliterating his former scoring and assist rates and doing that with a higher % of points at even strength, and I expect the answer to that this year to be: But his teammates, though. Which has a little validity. The Petes were really good, and it’s next to impossible to account for teammate effects in junior hockey. I made a joke in that post last year, which I don’t think anyone got, about how SDA is actually taller than Robertson. But Robertson now looms so big in everyone’s mind that I think SDA is fully and completely in his shadow. He’ll be playing pro hockey next year, and we’ll finally be able to judge him a little more clearly. But until then, I still consider him a prospect that sits just outside the NHLer for sure tier on this list.
Fulemin: Is there anything as annoying for prospect-watching as the D+2 junior season? It just doesn’t feel like you get enough useful information out of it. SDA got it together and did about what you could have hoped from him. He did it with a star linemate, but good news, he might run into that guy again before too long. Still, the concern was always whether SDA would have the size and the persistence to make it in pro hockey, and we have no answer there. He didn’t take himself out of the running with a bad year, and that’s good, and beyond that we’re still waiting and seeing.
Hardev: I’m just happy we get a new centre prospect at the Marlies. It’s been a while. I like SDA as a prospect; he’s skilled, he’s smart, he’s got good speed. By all accounts he works hard. Unless there’s a drastic influx of talent on the Marlies, it’s not going to be the same safe hunting grounds prospects have gotten to play on in previous years. A place where you were probably a line lower than you should be and can beat up on the competition you face. There’s not as many European free agents who can step right into a role. SDA is probably going to start on the third line and potentially move up from there depending on the fate of Adam Brooks and how well Riley Woods does in camp (whatever that will look like). And for a prospect who is young compared to his own draft year, it’s going to take him some time to adjust to the speed and size of the men’s game. I’m happy to watch him for at least the next two years and report back when he’s ready.
Kevin: Der-Arguchintsev has some serious work to do, as he’s an undersized offence-first player who can’t put the puck in the net himself. He’s probably going to need to be sheltered if he ever reaches the NHL level, and he’s going to need to rack up points to provide value. While scoring 75 points in 55 games this season was impressive, he was the fourth most valuable player on his team behind Nick Robertson, Akil Thomas, and Declan Chisholm (and fifth if you count the goalie). He wasn’t quite dominating the CHL the way Adam Brooks did at his age. He’s similar to Jeremy Bracco in a sense, but I don’t think he’s quite as talented as a playmaker, and he needs to continue to improve if he wants to be a top AHL scorer in his second professional season. Being able to play up the middle will help his chances, but he needs to get stronger sooner or later.
Right before the seasons was shut down, the Peterborough Examiner ran a story about SDA, and the work he’s been doing on the weaker aspects of his game:
“I think Sem defensively has been really, really good,” said Petes head coach Rob Wilson.
“His positional play on exits has been excellent. His back pressure has been excellent. He had two at the start of the third (Saturday night) that were really important. That’s where I see his biggest improvement, on the defensive side of the puck. He’s worked at it.”
Wilson said SDA figured out he has to do these things to be a pro.
“He knows he’s getting close to being a pro hockey player and all these things are important,” Wilson said.
“I wanted to become more of a two-way player,” Der-Arguchintsev said. “The coaches in the Toronto organization, their development staff, have tried to help me with that as much as they can and I’ve tried to learn as much as I can. I’m a pretty smart player so it’s just about learning it and doing it.”
There’s a lot of potential in this prospect, and where he ends up when the OHL and AHL resume play could be telling about the Leafs perspective on his development. Players born in 2000 will be the overagers in whatever 2020-21 season happens for the OHL, and the Petes would love to have him back, but a player his age should be in the AHL if he’s to become a regular roster member for the big club one day. Whenever we see that decision, we could see a clue to his future in the organization.
Where would you assign SDA next season?