With the 48th overall pick, the Columbus Blue Jackets selected Russian winger Kirill Marchenko.
Steal. That’s what the Columbus Blue Jackets did in the second round when they selected Russian winger Kirill Marchenko 49th overall. I can’t hide my excitement for this pick and I won’t attempt to. Marchenko, if he comes over to North America, will end up being a better player than the Jackets first round draft pick, Liam Foudy.
Marchenko is everything you want in a winger. He is big, standing at six foot three inches tall, but still slender weighing in around 170 pounds. He surely needs to grow into his frame and add some size but that shouldn’t be an issue with Kirill. He is a late birthday and doesn’t turn 18 until July 21st so he has plenty of time.
What you see on the ice though is a player that has incredible skill and deceptive abilities. He is able to make defenders look helpless on the ice. He has great puck handling skills and top-end agility that he uses to create a shot from almost anywhere. This great skill really showed in his international play for Russia and he really turned heads a the under-18 World Championship. There he scored three goals and tallied three assist in five games.
Marchenko uses his elite level deceptiveness to get quality shots off from the slot and in front of the net. He loves playing to the center of the ice and creates a great deal of scoring opportunities off his driving play to the middle.
You can see this in these highlights. Especially the play against Sweden around the 35 second mark. Kirill wears number 21 for Russia and 14 for his club team.
Marchenko’s only offensive weakness is his finishing ability. He consistently creates great scoring chances with his dazzling moves but needs to put the puck in the net more often off those chances. That said, he is still an elite offensive prospect and arguably one of the top ten offensive talents in this year’s draft.
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What Marchenko lacks is a solid defensive foundation. He is not positionally sound and uses his stick too much in his own zone. He is always looking for an offensive opportunity while defending leaving him out of position.
Marchenko played in the MHL, Russia’s top junior league, where defense isn’t really their calling card. He will need to, and will, improve defensively when he plays in the KHL.
Although he saw a decrease in production last season, Kirill is a playmaker that will open up the defense and make fans ask “Did he really just do that?” The Jackets like Markchenko so much that they were considering drafting him in the first round. They took Liam Foudy though and were able to still pick up the dynamic winger in the second round.
Marchenko has a contract with SKA St. Petersberg until 2020. He will hopefully make his professional debut with the vaunted club this year and play alongside fellow Columbus Blue Jackets prospect Vladislav Gavrikov.
For the Jackets it’s not a question of whether Marchenko has NHL level offensive talent. The real question is, will the Jackets be successful in recruiting him to come to North America and show off that talent on the ice in Nationwide Arena?