Taken by the Blue Jackets in the 5th round of the 2022 NHL Draft (#138 overall), Sergei Ivanov could be more than a roll of the late round dice.
Players taken in this round of the draft come with at least one question mark. In the case of Ivanov, we have two big ones. First, he's Russian. With the geopolitical situation around the world, it could be tough to nail down if or when he might come over to North America to play hockey.
Second, he's an undersized goaltender. Listed at 5'11" and 165 pounds, he does not line up with the prototypical NHL goaltender in a size comparison. There aren't many successful NHL goaltenders who check in under 6'1" - in fact, the only current standout starter I'm aware of is Nashville's Juuse Saros.
That isn't to say that Ivanov can't be an NHL player. To the contrary, I refuse to write him off at this moment. Currently on loan with Vladivostok (KHL), he's putting up terrific numbers on one of the league's worst teams.
Ivanov has posted a 7-14-0 record with one shutout; backed up by a 2.62GAA and .929 save percentage. This is on a team that has won just 11(!) of its 60 games played this season.
Honestly, those numbers are remarkable for a guy who is just 19 years old, playing in one of the top men's leagues in the world.
Ivanov is a tremendously quick, athletic goaltender; with a tendency to make dazzling saves on plays he seems to be out of. He's very solid in covering the lower half of the net, which reminds me a lot of Jonathan Quick. If he can reach anywhere near the level, the Jackets will be ecstatic.
The Blue Jacket pipeline is somewhat thin when it comes to top quality goaltending, but I think if Ivanov does make the jump to North America, we'll be pleasantly surprised with what we have here. In my opinion, he has the highest upside of any goaltender currently in the CBJ system.
Fingers crossed that he comes over soon, rather than later.