NHL Draft: Three Russians selected in 1st round amid fears

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Ducks general manager Pat Verbeek had a simple answer regarding his decision to draft defenseman Pavel Mintyukov with the 10th pick in the NHL Entry Draft amid promotion fears about the prospects of Russians the ability to play in North America due to issues related to the war in Ukraine.

“The talent is undeniable,” Verbeek said shortly after making his choice on Thursday night. “We want our franchise to move in the right direction towards winning the Stanley Cup and we think this player will really help us get there.”

Ivan Miroshnichenko puts on a Washington Capitals jersey after being selected in the first round of the NHL Hockey Draft in Montreal on Thursday, July 7, 2022.

Ivan Miroshnichenko puts on a Washington Capitals jersey after being selected in the first round of the NHL Hockey Draft in Montreal on Thursday, July 7, 2022.
(Ryan Remiortz/The Canadian Press via AP)

Verbeck was not alone in his opinion that three Russians were chosen from 32 candidates at night. last six rounds of the draft in Montreal on Friday.

By Mintyukov’s choice, Washington Capitals pick forward Ivan Miroshnichenko on the 20th, followed by the Minnesota Wild, taking right winger Danila Yurov four picks later.

NHL PROSPECT RECEIVED IN RUSSIAN SERVICE FOR ALLEGED MILITARY EVACUATION

All three participated in the draft and were due for the first round, although questions were raised about whether their draft fund could be reduced due to restrictions on travel to and from Russia and Belarus, and the lack of a transfer agreement between them. NHL and Russian Continental Hockey League.

NHL Central Scouting Director Dan Marr went so far as to say that a trial draft run by his staff ended up with the Russians being eliminated from the first round for the first time since 2005.

Concerns were further heightened last week when Philadelphia Flyers goalie prospect Ivan Fedotov was unexpectedly assigned to a remote military base in northern Russia, according to the player’s agent, J.P. Barry. Selected in the seventh round of the 2015 draft, Fedotov signed with the Flyers in May after completing his KHL contract with CSKA Moscow.

ROC team No. 28 goalie Ivan Fedotov reacts as he leaves the field after beating Denmark 3-1 in the men's ice hockey quarterfinal match between ROC team and Denmark on Day 12 of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at Wukeson 16 Sports Center February.  , 2022 in Beijing, China.

ROC team No. 28 goalie Ivan Fedotov reacts as he leaves the field after beating Denmark 3-1 in the men’s ice hockey quarterfinal match between ROC team and Denmark on Day 12 of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at Wukeson 16 Sports Center February. , 2022 in Beijing, China.
(Elsa/Getty Images)

Miroshnichenko’s situation is more complicated because his junior season in Russia was cut short after he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in March. He has since been allowed to resume playing.

“Just an amazing feeling. Such a wonderful organization,” he said through an interpreter.

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Capitals general manager Brian McLellan said he and his staff “quite calmly” selected Miroshnichenko based on the team’s doctors reviewing the player’s medical report.

“Our guys thought the reward was worth the risk. He’s a really good player,” McLellan said. “Hopefully it works out and we have a really good player in our hands.”

While there was always a risk that Russian players would decide to stay at home, Mintyukov’s desire to play in North America became more apparent after spending last season with Saginaw of the Ontario Hockey League.

Although Miroshnichenko and Yurov only played in Russia, they were chosen by teams with a history of Russian selection and development.

Pavel Mintyukov puts on an Anaheim Ducks jersey after being selected in the NHL Hockey Draft in Montreal on Thursday, July 7, 2022.

Pavel Mintyukov puts on an Anaheim Ducks jersey after being selected in the NHL Hockey Draft in Montreal on Thursday, July 7, 2022.
(Ryan Remiortz/The Canadian Press via AP)

The war in Ukraine and the status of Russian players in North America have become hot topics in the league. Several agents representing the Russian players declined to comment, and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman chose his words carefully when addressing the matter on Thursday.

He reiterated that the NHL did not give teams instructions as to whether they could select Russian players. He then sidestepped the question that the league was concerned that players would be banned from traveling to Russia.

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“I think that we or the clubs should not interfere in the politics of what is happening in Russia,” Bettman said.

“I don’t want to say anything that could be misinterpreted or cause a sensitive situation to escalate,” he added. “Russian players who are still residing in Russia need to make sure they are making the best possible decisions for themselves and their families.”