Kirill Marchenko, 6-3, 187 pounds
July 21, 2000 (22 years old)
Drafted 2nd round (#49 overall), 2018 NHL Draft
Cap hit: $925k through 2024-25 (ELC)
Role: Middle six winger
It seems like ages since the Blue Jackets took a second round flyer on talented Russian winger Kirill Marchenko, but this summer he finally made the jump to North America. With the glut of forwards causing a roster squeeze for the Blue Jackets, it’s definitely possible to see him starting his career in the AHL. However, I think this is maybe the most NHL-ready prospect in the entire system, and I have him not only making the big club – but potentially playing a valuable role for this team right out of camp.
Perhaps no player will benefit greater from the departure of Oliver Bjorkstrand, or the absence of Alexandre Texier, than Marchenko. Spending the last three years playing against men in the KHL, the big, skilled winger has the opportunity to earn second or third line minutes with the Blue Jackets – something that may not have been the case had both of these players returned. Marchenko can play either wing and is a pure scorer. He has terrific hands and a quick release, to go along with strong hockey sense and a knack for creating offense.
The only question mark for him at this time is his skating, but he seems to get around the ice well enough and has been pretty productive in Russia’s highest league. Don’t let his drop in production this past season scare you – his ice time was slashed significantly because he refused to re-sign with SKA St Petersburg, instead choosing to come to the NHL. Still, with extremely limited minutes, he managed to score 12 goals and 20 points in 39 games played; against men in a very good league. This isn’t a teenager that will need time to adjust … at 22 years old, he’s fully developed and ready to go.
Three Keys to Success
- Adjust to North America. Not necessarily the ice, as his KHL team is one of the few that plays on a North American sized rink. More so, adjust to the lifestyle here and adapt to the more physical style that the NHL employs.
- Learn from the best. Benefit from playing with guys like Jakub Voracek or Gustav Nyquist; both European players who have gone through similar adjustments.
- Do your thing. Shoot the puck, use your size and strength to get to the net. Show off those hands, score some goals. Have fun, this season is all about development and showing you belong here.
2022-23 Expectation: Prove yourself to the world.
Marchenko is an intriguing prospect, but one that is seemingly unknown to people outside of the Blue Jacket circle. The situation honestly reminds me of Kirill Kaprizov coming over for the Minnesota Wild a couple of seasons ago. While I don’t think Marchenko will be THAT good (or have that same kind of dazzling skill), I think he’s going to surprise a lot of people with how good he actually is. It may have taken four years to get him over, but this is a very talented player who is now fully NHL ready, and well worth the wait. Similar to how Vladislav Gavrikov and Elvis Merzlikins developed slowly, then came over and stepped right into prime roles for this team, I think Marchenko does the same. Read: 2022 Season Preview: Sean Kuraly