Maple Leafs Prospect Report: Nikita Soshnikov


Every week throughout the NHL season we will be updating you on the development, potential and realistic expectations for key Toronto Maple Leafs prospects with up-to-date stats, analysis and scouting reports.

Keep in mind, all of those clips are from the same game. Soshnikov is the kind of electrifying forward that makes his way onto highlight reels… a lot.

Is it the draft yet? No? Theres still Leaf games to be played this season? Damnit. Like many of you, I too am wondering when this nightmare season will be over. I can’t think of a corny or cheesy line to introduce the Leafs’ newest recruit; Russian winger Nikita Soshnikov.

Getting To Know: Nikita Soshnikov

Age/Position: 21 / Winger

Height: 5-foot-11

Weight: 185lbs

Shoots/Jersey Number: Left / #90

League/Team: KHL / Moscow Oblast Atlant

Drafted: Undrafted

Contract Status: 3 years, 2-way ELC starts 2015-2016

2014-2015 Stat Line: 57GP – 14G – 18A – 32PTS – 22PIM – Plus 5

Soshnikov is ineligible to play in the AHL or NHL this season as he finishes his contract with Atlant, but said one of the main reasons he chose to sign with Toronto was that as a rebuilding club he thought he’d have a chance early on to make the team. He also said;

"“Now my dream is within reach. I know that it’s a two-way contract, and I probably will have to make my way through the farm club but I’m ready for it.”"

Showcasing that classic Russian confidence in himself to be able to make the Leafs sooner than later. Nikita also being open to the idea of playing through the Marlies first, shows a level of maturity getting him at 21, instead of 18 provides.

Soshnikov has great speed, top flight agility and an ability to slip through dangerous situations and away from big hits. He has a quick and accurate wrist shot that he can get off quickly and in mid-stride, often throwing goaltenders off. He likes to drive in off the wing on the rush, or dash out from behind the net, but the refreshing thing about Nikita is his willingness to drive the net to score a goal. The kid loves to score goals, and he doesn’t mind paying a price to do so.

Soshnikov can definitely be guilty of trying to do too much, as young players with his skill level often are. He has great hands, but too often will try to deke the entire team as opposed to using his teammates or dumping the puck in and setting up the fore-check. He has the offensive skill level and skating ability to be an NHL player right away in a scoring role.

Whether he makes the team out of camp next season will depend entirely on how quickly he adjusts his game to the North American ice and how far along he has come defensively. Spending some time with the Marlies to acclimate to the culture, the media attention and the speed and size of the North American pro game would benefit Nikita, but if push comes to shove he could throw on a Leafs jersey now and be one of their better offensive players (not to say that is saying much these days).

While it doesn’t seem that Soshnikov has a very high ceiling, he has gotten better every year he’s played in the KHL, and if that trend continues in the AHL and NHL then the Leafs may have something special on their hands.

Future Projection:

NHL Upside: Top 6 Goal Scoring Forward / 20+ Goals 50+ Points

Realistic Projection: 3rd Line Goal Scoring Winger / 20+ Goals 35+ Points

NHL Ready: 2015-2016

NHL Player Comparable: Marian Gaborik

Next week we’ll continue to break down the Leaf’s prospect pipeline.

Feel free to let me know what you think of Nikita Soshnikov and what his chances are in the NHL in the comments below, or you can follow me on Twitter @TorrinBatchelor and we can keep the debate going!

Next: Anatomy of a Jonathan Bernier Trade

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