Sergei Ivanov, 5-11, 165 pounds
SKA St Petersburg (MHL – RUS)
5th round (#138 overall), 2022 NHL draft
Playstyle comparisons: Juuse Saros, Anton Khudobin
NHL upside: ???
Professional ETA (NA): ???
Entering the draft with no picks in the fifth or sixth round, the Blue Jackets struck a deal to acquire pick #138 from the San Jose Sharks, in exchange for their own 2023 fifth round selection. With the pick, the club selected Russian goaltender Sergei Ivanov.
Playing in Russia’s junior league this past season, Ivanov posted a solid 92.8% save percentage, 2.17GAA, and carried a 14-7-4 record. His playoff numbers only got better, with a 93.1% save percentage and 12 wins – both league bests. He also starred for Russia on the international level in 2020-21, taking over the starter’s crease at the U18 tournament, despite being a year younger than their other goaltenders.
Ivanov is progressing through the SKA St Petersburg system in Russia, and will look to make the leap to the professional ranks this fall. As a fifth round pick, the Blue Jackets see a long-term project here and make a selection that will give them the benefit of free development overseas.
As a smaller goaltender, Ivanov relies on his reflexes and athleticism to make saves. He is an effective puck stopper who never quits on the play, constantly moving and battling to keep the play in front of him. Goaltenders in the draft are often a crapshoot and take years to develop, but the Blue Jackets see enough potential here to take a flyer on a smaller goaltender.
It will be interesting to see how this player progresses over the next year or two. If he makes the KHL team, odds are pretty low that he’ll see much playing time immediately. But, he’s proven a lot of people wrong thus far, competing hard and earning time in the crease at every stop along the way.
For the club to trade into the fifth round and target this player, I think there’s more than meets the eye with him. They typically only make deals and acquire picks in players they think highly of (see: Texier, Alexandre). It will be fun to look back at this pick in several years either way – this selection was traded three times before the Blue Jackets used it to take Ivanov. If he becomes a star, it will make for a fun story down the road.