Kirill Dolzhenkov, 6-6, 236 pounds
Krasnaya Armiya Moskva (MHL – RUS)
4th round (#109 overall), 2022 NHL draft
Playstyle comparisons: Nik Antropov, Artem Anisimov
NHL upside – Bottom six winger
Professional ETA: (North America) ???
After selecting a small, skilled winger in the third round, the Blue Jackets went the other direction in the fourth round. That’s not to say Kirill Dolzhenkov isn’t skilled … in fact, he’s very skilled. But, at 6-6 and nearly 240 pounds, he was one of the largest players available in the entire draft.
Dolzhenkov played in Russia’s junior hockey league, the MHL; scoring consistently enough with 14 goals and 28 points in 33 games played. He also posted 35 minutes in penalties – though most of those came on one head scratching play. Yeah, not sure what that was all about …
At his size, it’s tough to miss Dolzhenkov on the ice as he truly looks like a man amongst boys. He’s a very strong skater who is hard to knock off the puck; he plays in the tough areas of the ice and is good at using his big frame to give himself time and space. He has surprisingly good hands for a big man, a very good shot that allows him to score in a variety of ways, and is a pretty good all-around player. I don’t see many glaring weaknesses in his game, he does everything pretty well but his upside is somewhat limited (I personally don’t see him as a top-two line player).
Like many fourth round picks, Dolzhenkov is a project type player. The Blue Jackets will have the benefit of free development in Russia for the foreseeable future, as he will likely progress into the KHL. With the current world situation, it’s hard to say if or when this player might come over; but my best guess would be sometime in 2025. If that’s the case, the club could be gaining another strong, NHL ready asset, as they will this season with Kirill Marchenko’s arrival.
This is a somewhat low-risk, high reward type of pick. Dolzhenkov is a pretty well rounded player that plays on both sides of the puck. In that regard, I think he’s almost certainly going to get a shot in the NHL if he wants it. But, it’s impossible to tell what’s going to happen with Russian prospects coming out of this draft.
I think Dolzhenkov could be a really nice pickup in the middle rounds, and like every other selection they made at the 2022 draft, they didn’t need to find a player to play right away here. They can let him develop and see how things shake out. If everything goes well, they might have found a nice depth player that could play on a future third line with fellow countryman Dmitry Voronkov.