He brings a lot to the table and for the Soo Greyhounds, getting defenceman Kirill Kudryavtsev signed adds an important piece to their blueline for the 2020-21 Ontario Hockey League season.
Drafted sixth overall in the annual Canadian Hockey League Import Draft in late-June, Kudryavtsev was a player that general manager Kyle Raftis was excited to add.
“He’s an explosive skater,” Raftis said at the time. “He’s got a bomb of a shot. He’s got great instincts on the ice. He’s a guy that was the power play quarterback of their youth Olympic team. I think he’s the best Russian defenceman of the ’04 age group. He’s somebody that we’re really excited to add. When you have a high pick, you want to bring in someone who is going to have an impact and hopefully somebody that’s going to be with us for a couple of years. It’s somebody that everybody is going to be really excited to watch develop with us over the next couple of years.”
On Tuesday morning, the Greyhounds announced Kudryavtsev’s signing and with the 2004-birth having options for the upcoming season, Raftis said the signing brings some added excitement for the team.
“Any time you see a player playing with their teams back in Europe, you get an idea about them and the excitement level just watching him on TV at the Hlinka Gretzky tournament just showed (his talent),” Raftis said. “If Russia was killing a five-on-three, he was out there. When they were on the power play, he was out there. It’s something that, sometimes when you have international players, they might be propped up depending on their country, but that Russian team is a powerhouse. To know that he’s excited about coming over and joining us is exciting for us too.”
With some potential roster spots open on the Greyhounds blueline for the 2021-22 season, Raftis said Kudryavtsev is “an interesting fit.”
“He skates really well. Defensively, he’s really sound,” Raftis said. “Sometimes you get players that are younger and the offensive game is there and it’s just about getting their sense of timing and their skill level assessed. That part is going to be there.”
“He’s a battler,” Raftis added. “He blocks shots. While he’s defending, he’s not scared to use the body. Those things are just going to help speed up that side of the process. He’s a left-hand shot that plays the right side. He’s comfortable there. With our lineup lacking right-hand shots, that’s going to really help us as well.”
With training camp set to open on Aug. 30, Raftis noted that the current Visa situation and COVID restrictions for people from overseas traveling into Canada, the 17-year-old will not be in Sault Ste. Marie for the start of training camp.
With he potential for restrictions to be lifted in early-September, Raftis said he expects Kudryavtsev to arrive in Sault Ste. Marie by the middle of the month.
With second round import pick Julian Lutz, Raftis said things haven’t changed on that front as of Tuesday.
“There’s nothing that has changed there,” Raftis said. “It’s something that we have to monitor as he gets back with his DEL team. They’re training and we’ll see where things go. There’s definitely an excitement level on our side of it that there’s potential, but at the same time there’s nothing firmed up on that.”