Welcome to this year’s Top 25 Under 25 series. If you’re unfamiliar, we’re going player-by-player in a ranking of the top 25 Minnesota Wild players that are under the age of 25. It’s fairly simple. Enjoy!
There were so many differing opinions on Danila Yurov and his status heading into the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. Some people saw him as talented enough to be selected in the top 10, while others saw his lack of playing time and production in the KHL (as well as the fact that he is Russian with the war in Ukraine happening) as potential red flags drafting him that early. In the end, Judd Brackett and the Wild scouting team decided to phone in and select him with the 24th overall selection.
No matter what the “experts” think of Yurov’s status as a Russian, there is no doubt that he is a skilled player. He may not be the biggest player on the ice, nor will he be the strongest, but the skill with the puck is there. He’s an above-average skater in transition with great vision. Giving Yurov any space in the rush or in the offensive zone is always a bad idea. He will make defenses pay.
Yurov’s 2021-22 was a tale of two different seasons in two different leagues. In the MHL, he posted 36 points in 23 games. He also received plenty of playing time. In the KHL, however, he wasn’t given a shot at all. In 21 games he didn’t score a single point and didn't play much even when he was on the game-time roster. This year though, now that he’s getting some more time on ice, he’s showing why.
Through 10 games, Yurov has scored three points, which may not seem like many, but there is a tangible confidence that he has with the puck, which is the most important part. The current problem lies with his coaches in the KHL pushing his ice time down over the last few appearances. He looked great through the first four games of the season, but he’s spending time as the 13th forward in the lineup, which is a complete waste.
Roll the Tape
Being an 18-year-old in the KHL is always a tough task, and even though the stats may not be a big fan of Yurov, the film loves him. Below is a clip of him accelerating through the neutral zone, making a sweet move on a defender in the offensive zone, and scoring a sweet goal:
Here is another clip showing Yurov’s instinct to drive to the net when he doesn’t have the puck to create different lanes:
I know there's a lot of uncertainty around the Russians at the draft, but I wonder if Hextall would be able to ignore Danila Yurov if he falls to 21. Would likely be the easy best player available at that point. Kid is an absolute bully. Steamrolls to the net. Ureal shot. pic.twitter.com/CNzaF6og9D— Jesse Marshall (@jmarshfof) July 6, 2022
Here’s a beauty of a tip while he skates through the slot:
And finally, here’s a clip where Yurov comes from below the defensive zone faceoff dot, accelerates up through the ice, and catches up with the play. He receives the puck on the rush and then feeds it back for the goal.
Yurov reads the ice very well with and without the puck. He has an instinct to go to the net and create at least a small distraction for the goaltender. On the rush and in the offensive zone, he’s lethal. Not only does he possess an excellent shot, but he can thread the needle and find open teammates in lanes that many wouldn't think exist. He’s as skilled as they come, and at only 18 years old, there is plenty of untapped potential.
Yurov’s contract in the KHL is up at the end of the 2022-23 season. He has the option to sign an extension, but he would be much better off coming over to North America and playing in the AHL with the Iowa Wild. He would be provided an exponential amount more playing time, and he would have coaches and staff at his disposal to help focus him on his development.
There is enough to suggest that Yurov could become a top-six talent in the NHL. Playing with one of his idols (Kirill Kaprizov) and other skilled youngsters like Matt Boldy and Marco Rossi could help push him over the hump. However, it would take him coming over to the United States for that to happen. There is plenty of work to be done, but the talent is there, and if he pans out, Wild fans should love what they have.
Hockey Wilderness 2022 Top 25 Under 25
25. Mason Shaw, C/LW
24. Sam Hentges, C/LW
23. Simon Johansson, D
22. Hunter Haight, C
21. Nikita Nesternenko, C
20. Marshall Warren, D
19. Filip Gustavsson, G
18. Mikey Milne, LW
17. Mitchell Chaffee, RW
16. Pavel Novak, RW
15. Ryan O’Rourke, D
14. Daemon Hunt, D
13. Jack Peart, D
12. Tyson Jost, C
11. Adam Beckman, LW
10. Connor Dewar, C, LW
9. Danila Yurov, RW