Continuing on with an in-depth look at the Avalanche’s 2018 draft class is now time for a player with the highest amount of intrigue. Danila Zhuravlyov was taken at 146th overall in the 5th round and is the only defenseman chosen by the Avalanche in this draft class. This selection was obtained from the Pittsburgh Penguins in a trade down to 64th overall from the 58th overall pick, which was originally gathered from the Nashville Predators and thus makes Zhuravlyov officially part of the Matt Duchene trade tree.
Zhuravlyov is a relative unknown but what is known is that his upside is high. He was born on April 6th, 2000 in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia and later he moved to Kazan and entered their system when he was 12 years old. A left shot offensive defenseman currently standing at 6’0 and 163 lbs, Zhuravlyov many feel is just scratching the surface of his potential as a points producing and all-around defenseman.
A very good skater, particularly on his edges, he credits learning to skate from a figure skater. Zhuravlyov also began in the sport as a forward, which also helps explain his offensive aptitude. He has all the offensive tools of a hard shot, good at moving and passing the puck plus the offensive IQ to hopefully make a difference at the next level. He is a tremendous power play quarterback where he can combine his agility with his aggressive offensive nature, which is where his greatest upside lies. Zhuravlyov is also capable on the defensive end as he shows good positioning and defensive promise, although still in a rawer state in that department currently. His frame is a bit slight as he needs to get stronger on the puck to make more plays and just needs more high level experience to round out his game.
— Dennis Schellenberg (@ScoutingFactory) April 22, 2018
For as much of a mystery Zhuravlyov is he did participate in four national team events in the 2017-18 season for Russia including the Ivan Hlinka, World Junior A Challenge, Five Nations and the U-18 Championships. After a good showing at the Ivan Hlinka with three points it was at the U-18 where Zhuravlyov really broke out and contributed five assists in five games as one of the top defensive producers in the tournament. The events which were on the smaller North American ice seemed to suit him well and indicate a good possibility of translating his game to that style down the road.
Back in Russia Zhuravlyov enjoyed a successful season splitting time with the MHL (Russian juniors) and VHL (intermediate level) teams in the Ak Bars Kazan KHL system. In the MHL for Irbis Kazan he would score 18 points including nine goals in 28 games and was the highest scoring defenseman on the team despite not playing his entire season there. Up a level in the VHL he would post two points in 11 games. Next season Zhuravlyov should see more time in the VHL at least as the KHL club Ak Bars Kazan just won the Gagarin Cup and is a veteran laden team but he could also see his KHL debut soon.
Despite not attending the combine or draft, Zhuravlyov was firmly on the radar for selection in the 2018 draft. NHL Central Scouting had him listed at 50th on the International skaters list. The two independent publications the highest on Zhuravlyov were from International Scouting Services at 67th overall and HockeyProspect.com ranked him at 77th. Zhuravlyov recieved a few other nods around 130 so it was certainly expected he would get drafted.
Zhuravlyov’s plans for the future are unknown and he currently does not have a contract in the KHL. It is unlikely however that he would come to North America just yet and was not selected in the CHL import draft. Hopefully that is a possibility sooner than later because Zhuravlyov plays a very aggressive offensive game more suited to smaller ice and will likely have a tough time seeing significant ice time in that type of role moving up the system in the KHL. He could be in consideration for the Russian World Junior Championship team with all of his international experience but might also have to wait a year as he has two years of eligibility remaining. Wherever he plays next season it’s sure to be exciting.
Rudo3 has a shift-by-shift of Zhuravlyov in action in the MHL.
Photo credit sportsdaily.ru