2012 NHL Draft Evaluation: Andrei Vasilevski
I came into last night’s epic battle between Russia and Canada with a fresh slate for draft-eligible prospect Andrei Vasilevski. I had not caught any of Russia’s games in the 2012 World Juniors Championship tournament due to travel for the holidays, so this was the first time I had ever seen him play. Below are my random thoughts on his draft value, and some scouting notes on his game.
– The first thing I noticed as he skated towards his net for the puck to drop was just how intensely confident he looked. There was an air of pure focus and knowledge surrounding his body language. It was very obvious for me to sense this, as his first save was a glove stop in which the way he recovered from the butterfly was purely confident. He started off very strong, with no hesitation or uneasiness.
– Vasilevskiy has a very wide butterfly, and a similar tilt in his setup stance to Nikolai Khabibulin. Like many Russian goaltenders, he stands upright and stays up on his skates in many sequences compared to North American goalies. He has the classic post-protection style, staying upright and leaning into his post, sealing it top to bottom and keeping his far-side leg in tight to his body.
– Vasilevskiy recovers out of the butterfly very quickly, and is very fluid using the advanced pop-up recovery technique. He mirrors the puck very well with his stick. He is animated in the crease, and shows emotion, but always with a stone-cold look on his face. He has a silently solid presence.
FROM TWITTER: @RAAAACHEL_G: “he stands around like he’s waiting for a bus before he goes into the butterfly…. so weird.”
*** That is comical, but it’s actually very true. Good eye from my friend, as Vasilevskiy is really patient, and since he has great confidence he APPEARS even more patient. Little hesitant or fidgety body language. It is the way in which his body moves in his pads that allows him to appear that way. He has a low center of gravity, but has good flexibility so he can get wide, seal the ice with a wide butterfly, and make post-save recoveries or pushes with very smooth and efficient movements.
*** Maybe the “weird” part is due to the fact you are watching a 17-year-old kid play in the biggest game of his life. The kid is still growing, so he’s going to look a little awkward. What didn’t look awkward was a beautiful natural reaction glove save at the midway point of the game. He had to react with a long stretch above his head, but he made it with very smooth movements, showcasing his flexibility.
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THOUGHTS ON VASILEVSKIY’S DRAFT VALUE:
All things considered, and knowing this is only one game to work with, I think Vasilevskiy’s true draft value is tied to his own personal motivations. Teams will learn through interviews and personal meetings leading up to the draft whether or not he wants to stay in Russia or come to North America.
I also wonder about the difficulty in gauging his answers. A 17-year-old’s motivations change drastically at any given moment. What he says and truly believes he wants will have to be taken with a slight grain of salt, for I don’t think any NHL team will truly know how it turns out. So many talented Russian draft picks have gone through issues with transfer agreements that I think it could detract some teams from drafting him in the first round.
On the surface, however, if you simply look at his skill set and what he can achieve on the ice, I can safely say that (even watching him for just one game) he has first-round draft potential. But I feel like, at this point of the season, he is still a second-round goalie. That could change as we learn more about his personal motivations, but everything I saw in this game was really impressive, and it is hard to believe he’s only 17.
That might be the most important thing I took away from this live video evaluation. He is only 17, but he moves and plays like a 23 or 24-year old. The bravado and confidence seeped from his pores in this game, and he didn’t even look rattled when Canada fought back. In fact, I wouldn’t blame any of what happened in the third period on his ineffectiveness. Until the moment he exited the game, he was impressive.
Vasilevskiy is a terrific athlete with very good biomechanics. His balance points and strong core allow him to seal the ice with a very wide, but very powerful butterfly. This is going to make him look extremely attractive to many NHL teams. The word will spread and he will be highly touted.
Washington held the rights to one of the best young Russian goaltenders to come out in the past few years in Semyon Varlamov. Knowing they have Colorado’s first-round pick this year to work with, what kind of statement would George McPhee and the Capitals make by plucking him off the draft sheets with the selection they received from Colorado just a few months ago?