Winnipeg Jets Select Nikita Chibrikov In The 2nd Round

Jets nab crafty winger in round 2

The Winnipeg Jets dipped into relatively untested waters with their second round pick, visiting Russia and grabbing winger Nikita Chibrikov 50th overall.  The Jets have drafted just two Russians since the team’s move to Winnipeg in 2011, spending a pair of sixth round picks in the process.  Pavel Kraskovsky, whom the Jets still own the rights to, went 164th overall in 2014, and current Manitoba Moose netminder, Mikhail Berdin, went 157th overall two years later in 2016.  Chibrikov becomes the team’s highest drafted Russian, and with good reason.

The young winger was seen by many as a first round talent and ISS Hockey actually had him ranked #11.  Most of the boards and mock drafts I looked at had him going in the late teens to mid-20s and the lowest ranking I could find of his was #39 by eliteprospects.com. He was the fourth-ranked European skater by the NHL’s Central Scouting list.  Goran Stubb, the NHL’s director of European Scouting called him “by far” the best Russian prospect in this year’s draft.  The value is certainly there as the 50th overall selection.

So why did he fall?  Well, the “Russian factor” may be one reason.  Russians tend to stay in the KHL (unless they’re a top 5 talent and good enough to make the NHL as an 18-year-old) where teams don’t have control over their development or deployment.  Chibrikov is likely to play in the KHL next year with the powerhouse SKA St. Petersburg and it’s possible he won’t see a ton of ice.  Some also believe there’s an inherent bias against Russian players (concerns over attitude, lack of loyalty and not wanting to play in North America are often brought up) that may have contributed to his tumble down the draft board.

 

On the ice Chibrikov is a puck-control wizard with great hockey sense and playmaking ability.  He’s not very big but he’s a good skater and can drive play.  He makes the players around him better and his best asset might be his ability to read the play and anticipate where his teammates and opponents will be.  He’s got a great compete level and is fearless in net and board battles.  He’ll need to fill out more and improve defensively to make the NHL but that’s a few years away.  His offensive instincts are certainly there.  He doesn’t appear to have amazing goal-scoring ability and is likely more of a set-up man if he makes it to the NHL level.

While playing in the KHL last year, Chibrikov scored a goal and assist in 16 games to go along with six penalty minutes.  In 20 VHL games he scored three times and added eight helpers for 11 points in 20 games.  Chibrikov also spent time last season playing in the Russian junior league (MHL) where he scored three more times with six assists for 9 points in 11 games.  At the international level he scored 13 points in seven games at the U18 World Championships as he captained the Russians to a silver medal.  His nine assists led the tournament and he was named one of Russia’s “three best players”.

Acheivements:

2019-20

U17 WHC Gold Medal

2020-21

U18 WJC Most Assists (9)
U18 WJC Silver Medal
U18 WJC Top 3 Player on Team

Analysis

This feels like a swing for the fences on a 3-0 count in baseball.  The Jets and their fans are gonna hope to connect with the ball and send it flying out of the stadium for a home run.  The Jets grabbed a very good player in Lucius in round one this year and Cole Perfetti continues to look like a steal last year.  Combine that with most of the Jets top forwards being in their 20s (Scheifele, Dubois, Ehlers, Connor) and the Jets are relatively set at forward for a while.  They could afford to take a shot on a guy like Chibrikov.  This is a medium-risk, potentially high-reward pick.  I might look like an idiot giving this pick the grade I did if Chibrikov never comes over to North America but the kid oozes potential and I love the value of taking him at 50th overall.  It’s like having a second first round pick.  Love it, very excited to see his development.

There were a couple of other guys I would’ve been okay with at this spot.  Aatu Raty, who was once considered the top prospect in this draft was still available at 50 as well.  I wouldn’t have minded picking him although his plummet down the draft board is disconcerting to say the least.  Brandon Wheat Kings Vincent Iorio looks likes he could be a rock defensively one day and Sean Behrens looks like he could be a good offensive defenceman.  Also, I’m a bit bummed that Logan Stankoven went #47 to Dallas but overall I’m very happy with the Chibrikov selection.

Name: Nikita Chibrikov

Position: Right wing

Height: 5’10

Weight: 170 lbs

Shoots: Left

DOB: February 16, 2003

Place of Birth: Moscow, Russia

Team: SKA St. Petersburg (KHL)

2019-20 Stats:

GP: 16  G: 1  A: 1  P: 2 PIM:Plus/Minus: 0

Draft: 2nd round, 50th overall, 2021 NHL Entry Draft

Player Comparison:  His transitional play and grit have been compared to the Boston Bruins Brad Marchand.

Grade: A+ 

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