The Washington Capitals selected left wing Ivan Miroshnichenko with their first round pick (#20 overall) of the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, Thursday night in Montreal. Miroschnichenko, 18, played for Omskie Krylia in the VHL (Russia) last season.
Miroshnichenko hails from Primorsky Krai, Russia, where he developed into a potential top-10 draft pick. He was captain for Team Russia when they won gold in the 2021 Hlinka-Gretzky Cup and was a member of Omsie Krylia of the VHL, the second-tier league in Russia behind the KHL.
The Capitals selected Ivan Miroshnichenko at 20th overall, a former top 5 prospect who missed last season undergoing treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma.
Great to see Ivan on the stage 👏 pic.twitter.com/SpMlf8ILjC
— B/R Open Ice (@BR_OpenIce) July 8, 2022
However, his draft stock and life took a turn when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in March. According to Yahoo Sports, doctors just cleared Miroshnichenko to return to practice in June.
The forward is listed at 6-foot-1, 185 pounds and has impressed scouts with his powerful shooting ability both with the wrister and one-timer.
Background: Miroshnichenko played all season up versus men in Russia’s second-tier league in a regular role before his season ended in January due to being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He scored 1 goal and 2 points at the U20 4 nations in November. He was the captain and a leading player for Russia’s U18 team when they won Hlinka Gretzky gold. He scored 6 goals and 8 points in 7 games at the U18 World Championships the previous season. He originally intended to play in Muskegon of the USHL instead of Russia the past two seasons but ran into visa issues.
Analysis: Miroshnichenko is a player with all the attributes you want in a top NHL winger. He’s got good size and strength. He’s a strong skater. He’s highly skilled. He can make plays and he’s highly competitive. His shot is a bullet and can be a weapon from the flank on a pro power play. He can beat defenders with speed, he can put pucks through legs, he can create at evens and on the power play. He has a bulky frame and can play a powerful style of game. He has the tools and track record of a projected top line winger, but given his diagnosis he is being placed several tiers below that due to the significant uncertainty in his future projection — despite positive developments since the initial diagnosis.
Miroshnichenko is the hardest player in this year’s draft class to rank because of his health following a Hodgkin’s lymphoma diagnosis in early 2022. The latest update is that he has completed his treatment in Germany and has been cleared to resume training under a full load in Russia, so that’s a big positive. Teams are all having the same conversations about where their threshold would be in the draft to take him. I’ve settled here, after the core group of 27 players that I believe strongest in. For context, Miroshnichenko was widely regarded as Russia’s best prospect in this draft before the diagnosis, even after a so-so start to his season had pushed him from the top three conversation into more of a top-10 projection (before I learned of the diagnosis, he slotted 11th on my list, which was a smidge lower than most).
As a player, Miroshnichenko has an illustrious international track record as a captain and first-line player in his age group (often alongside 2023 sensation Matvei Michkov) and a good though less inspiring domestic track record.
There are some exciting attributes to his game and it’s well rounded, so it’s never been hard to understand the appeal. He’s got an athletic pro frame. He shoots it hard (both his wrister and his one-timer/off one-touch shots) from mid range, giving him clear power-play upside. He’s a powerful skater through his edges and crossovers. He’s got good playmaking instincts. He’s a dexterous player who catches bad passes, manages to keep control when the play breaks down or the ice is choppy, and gets his stick on tips, etc. And he’s noticeably engaged shift to shift without the puck. My big hiccup with him is that I don’t find him to be a great problem-solver. While he can make the first play he sees on instinct, he doesn’t do a good job breaking down the play to think it through. No matter where he lands on draft day, it’ll be a testament to his status as a prospect and the pro style that he played before the diagnosis. Worth noting: Though he’s ranked 28th here, not all of the players I have in front of him will be drafted in the first round, which means I probably wouldn’t be prepared to take the gamble on Miroshnichenko until somewhere in the middle of the second round when the above players are gone.
Report: The risks with selecting Miroshnichenko are well known. He’s under contract in Russia and worse yet, he dealt with a scary diagnosis of Hodgkins lymphoma that sidelined him as he underwent treatment. With a positive prognosis and a brighter outlook for his health, the focus is returning to what Miroshnichenko can be as a player. The risk factor may be high, but so is the potential for reward. Prior to that diagnosis, Miroshnichenko came into this year as one of the most highly-touted prospects of the draft due to his strength and high-end scoring ability. Miroshnichenko, when healthy, is a powerful skater with quick hands and a highly-competitive nature. A team that is willing to take on the risk and be patient for Miroshnichenko’s arrival very well could end up with one of this draft’s most talented players.
Team Fit: I think he would have been a top-five player in this draft if not for his cancer diagnosis and the Russian factor. That Washington decided to take on the risk isn’t at all surprising. They’ve had the greatest Russian NHLer of all time, they have experience dealing with political issues that surround Russian players and will be able to provide Miroshnichenko the support and mentorship he’ll need to recover from his illness and get back on track. This has home-run potential for the Caps because I think Miroshnichenko is that good. My ranking reflects the risk that came with him, but I think there could be incredible reward here.
Miroshnichenko says he feels “super” pic.twitter.com/Uz3z3rBg9z
— Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) July 8, 2022
The Capitals next pick is in the second round (#46 overall) which begins at 11:00 am on Friday.
Miroshnichenko would have been ranked much higher, but he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma last season. #Caps did their due diligence with his medical reports and interviewed him in person here yesterday in Montreal. #ALLCAPS
— Mike Vogel (@VogsCaps) July 8, 2022
As we noted prior to the draft, the Capitals were lacking depth on the left side. Miroshnichenko begins to address that situation.
More to come.
By Jon Sorensen