Columbus Blue Jacket prospect watch: Kirill Dolzhenkov

Kirill Dolzhenkov is another talented prospect we're keeping a keen eye on. The Jackets have had success bringing over talented NHL-ready players from Russia in recent years. Could he be the next one?
Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympics - Day 12
Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympics - Day 12 / RvS.Media/Monika Majer/GettyImages

If we're ranking Blue Jacket prospects solely on size, Kirill Dolzhenkov would be the top prospect in the organization. The 6'6", 234 pounder was taken by the Jackets in the fourth round (#109 overall) at the 2022 NHL Draft.

If we're looking at pure skill? He may not be #1, but still be pretty high.

Dolzhenkov doesn't play the game as you would expect from a guy his size. He has soft hands, and is more likely to beat his opponents with smooth stickhandling and playmaking than with physical play.

With that said, he does a good job using his body to ward off opponents. He uses his long reach to keep the puck away and drive off the wall or to the net.

Dolzhenkov is an above average passer and he can finish off plays himself also. For a guy his size, he can be a human highlight reel - which is really quite impressive to watch.

He spent time in both Russia's top league - the KHL - and the second-tier VHL this season. In the KHL, he played 39 games for CSKA Moscow, scoring 4 goals, 9 points, and adding 17 penalty minutes. He was held scoreless in 5 playoff games.

He's a longer-term prospect in both development terms, and contract terms. His contract in Russia runs through the 2025-26 season, so don't expect him to come over any time before that.

Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. He can develop over there and, if he does decide to come to North America; he should be NHL-ready.

The Jackets have had some pretty good luck with Russian prospects over the years because they've been patient. This has allowed players like Vladislav Gavrikov, Kirill Marchenko, and Dmitry Voronkov to develop at their own pace at home; then make a difference in the NHL, right away.

In the end, the hope here is that they have found another difference maker from Russia in the middle rounds.

I think Dolzhenkov has the potential to become a bottom-9 winger, who can generate offense and take up a ton of space on the ice. I don't think he'll become the two-way beast we're already seeing in Voronkov, but he can impact the game with his size and skill.

It will be interesting to follow his development as he plays into a greater role with CSKA, one of the premier teams in the KHL. Keep an eye on Kirill Dolzhenkov.