Balancing Risk and Reward: NHL Teams Evaluate Russian Prospects at Camp to Address Draft Concerns

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Given the challenges faced by NHL general managers and scouts in traveling to Russia to evaluate talent in person, player agent Daniel Milstein decided to take matters into his own hands. Instead of waiting for scouts to come to Russia, Milstein brought his draft-eligible prospects to North America for a combine in Florida that attracted representatives from nearly all NHL teams.

The importance of being able to see and meet with Russian prospects firsthand cannot be understated. Travel restrictions and Russia’s exclusion from international tournaments have limited access to these talented players. Among the standouts at the combine was Ivan Demidov, a highly touted Russian junior forward who is projected to be a top-five pick in the upcoming draft.

Milstein’s Gold Star camp provided a unique opportunity for players to showcase their skills in on-ice practices and scrimmages, something not typically offered at the NHL combine. Additionally, the players spent the past year learning English to better prepare for the transition to North America.

Despite reservations among NHL executives about the challenges of bringing Russian players to North America, Milstein’s camp served as a platform for players to demonstrate their readiness and commitment to playing in the NHL. By hosting this camp, Milstein hopes to break down barriers and facilitate the process for Russian players looking to join the league.

While drafting Russian players carries inherent risks, recent developments such as Matvei Michkov being released from his KHL contract show progress in overcoming obstacles. The history of drafting Russian players is fraught with challenges, but the increasing number of Russian players being selected in recent drafts is a testament to their talent and potential.

Overall, the landscape for Russian players in the NHL is evolving, with camps like Milstein’s providing opportunities for players to showcase their abilities and make their case for joining the league. Despite the challenges and uncertainties involved in drafting Russian players, the potential rewards of finding top-tier talent make it a risk worth taking.

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