2020-21 Team: Krasnaya Armiya Moskva – MHL(#13)
Date of Birth: February 1, 2003
Place of Birth: St. Petersburg, Russia
Ht: 5-foot-11, Wt: 174 lbs
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2021 first-year eligible
What stands out about Prokhor Poltapov is his confidence. Despite his small 5-foot-11 stature, he plays a power game. He takes a straight-line approach to driving play and is just as likely to try to go through an opponent as he is to go around him. He also has strong puck-handling skills and can dangle or toe-drag his way around opponents. It makes him a nightmare to defend against in 1-on-1 situations because he keeps defenders guessing whether he’s going to attack them, bull rush through them, or try to go around.
He’s constantly moving in the offensive zone with or without the puck. With the puck, he’s shifty and physical, but off the puck, he seeks out the open areas. He’s willing to battle in the dirty areas and shows no hesitation on the attack or pouncing on loose pucks for rebounds or to keep the cycle going. His head is on a swivel, and he’s able to make smart, skilled plays under pressure.
His two-way game is better than most Russian prospects his age. He hounds loose pucks effectively and takes an active approach to disrupt the opposition’s attack. His confidence shines here as well because he will take a calculated risk to steal the puck or poke check it away from an attacker, and more often than not, he is successful in these attempts. Once he jars a puck loose or wins a battle, he will skate the puck out to neutral ice, looking to attack the offensive zone.
Related: THW’s 2021 NHL Draft Guide
Once the puck is on his stick in the defensive zone, he skates it forward with impressive confidence and will try to turn every defensive zone exit into an odd-man opportunity or a fast break up the ice. If his linemates go for a change, he’ll skate the puck in and wait for reinforcements. MHL defenders give him a lot of space through the neutral zone, so he doesn’t quite beat them, and the speed with which he’s able to transition the puck, by himself, through neutral ice makes it difficult for opponents to change lines.
Poltopov doesn’t show fantastic straight-line speed, but he has a lot of gas in the tank, and he can change the direction of play very quickly and smoothly. He’s not a particularly dynamic shooter, but he’s got a quick release, and he generates a lot of scoring chances. He’s got good hands in tight spaces, which makes him a real threat around the net. His stickhandling ability also makes him a dynamic playmaker. He will drive towards the net, beat the first man on him only to draw a second man to him, and then feed his open teammate for a scoring chance. Defenders have to know where he is at all times because he’s always a fraction of a second from being dangerous.
Other THW Draft Profiles
Prokhor Poltapov – NHL Draft Projection
He’s ranked all over the place, but mostly, he ranks in the second round. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a team take him early, though. His ability to drive play and push the pace to create scoring chances are tailor-made for the modern NHL. However, we could also see him slide down, as we have seen with Russian prospects on occasion in the past. If a team takes him in the first round, it will likely be because they have multiple first-round picks and will use their later pick to take a bit of a swing.
“Just call Poltapov Russia’s latest versions of the Human Highlight Reel, and he also wears No. 13 to boot. His dazzles, dangles, and dipsy-doodles are quite Datsyukian, and Poltapov’s penchant for sneak-attack takeaways on the backcheck are commonplace no matter the opponent.” – The Draft Analyst
“There really aren’t many players in this draft more deadly with the puck in a high-danger area than the shifty Russian winger is.” – Derek Neumeier: Future Considerations
- Drives play well
- Defensive zone responsibility
- Not afraid of physical contact
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Doesn’t have great speed
- Needs to work on his shot
Poltapov has an absurdly high ceiling, but it’s uncertain whether he can reach it. His ability to drive the play, create scoring chances, retrieve the puck and his fearlessness are the glue that holds the best forward lines in the NHL together. If he reaches the high-end of his potential, he could become a key top-line player used in all situations. Think Brad Marchand, but a few inches taller. However, his floor is probably as a depth/role player who is used on the penalty kill and averages less than 12 minutes per game. I think he will land somewhere in the midding, but leaning more towards his ceiling. If he reaches that potential, though, he will be the steal of the draft.
Risk – 3/5, Reward 5/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offence – 9/10 Defence – 8/10
- World Junior U-18 Silver Medal (2020-21)
Jack Dawkins is a freelance scout, analyst and avid watcher of “way too much hockey.” He has joined The Hockey Writers team to cover all things Washington Capitals, New Jersey Devils, Minnesota Wild, Los Angeles Kings, Arizona Coyotes and Florida Panthers. He’s an absolute data hound and loves using stats and analytics to calculate and extrapolate data for analysis.