Dmitry Voronkov 6-4, 190 pounds
Ak Bars Kazan (KHL)
4th round (#114 overall), 2019 NHL Draft
Playstyle comparisons: Boone Jenner, Artem Anisimov
NHL upside: Third line center
Professional ETA (North America): 2023
The sixth ranked prospect on our list is a rarity in the system in a couple of regards. Not only is Dmitry Voronkov 6-4 and almost 200 pounds – a noticeable size difference from the other forwards on our list so far – he’s also a natural center, whose game should make him an NHL player in the very near future.
Selected in the fourth round by the Blue Jackets in 2019, Voronkov entered the system with little fanfare, and continues to fly under the radar a little bit. The team had just come off of its shocking first round upset over the President’s Trophy winning Tampa Bay Lightning, a season in which GM Jarmo Kekalainen traded draft capital for a shot at a deep playoff run. With only three picks in the draft, the Jackets made the most of them, landing a pivot with pick #114 who could quietly become one of the best picks of the draft.
Since being taken by the Jackets, Voronkov has spent three seasons in the KHL, scoring 19 goals and 43 points in 125 regular season games. Playing against men at his age, in arguably the second-best league in the world, is a daunting task. But he has been a solid player in the KHL and internationally, including a 3 goal, 7 point performance for the Russians at the 2020 World Junior Championships, earning a silver medal in the process.
A big, physical player, Voronkov plays an old school style that makes him a very difficult opponent, with or without the puck. He’s strong in the trenches and in front of the net, using his big frame to create space and win puck battles, and he has the skill set to make plays or score a timely goal. The only question for Voronkov is with his upside, as he doesn’t have the kind of high end talent or foot speed to be a top-two center in the NHL. Still, I think he can be a very good third line center in the NHL, the kind of player that can play in all situations, against any competition.
Signed for one more season in the KHL, Voronkov will return to Ak Bars Kazan for 2022-23. Hopefully the Blue Jackets can get him signed after this season and bring his talents to North America in 2023. While he may be a little bit of a forgotten entity because of where he plays, I think he could step right into the NHL today and be an upgrade on the team’s center depth.
While not flashy or with huge upside, he is almost certainly going to be an NHL player if/when he comes over. With just three mid/late round picks in the 2019 draft, I think the team has come away with two potential NHL centers (Voronkov, Tyler Angle), and another rising asset in Eric Hjorth. As we close out the bottom half of our top-10, all three players from that draft have hit our list … and the prospects only look stronger from here on out.