2012 NHL Entry Draft Player Profiles: Anton Slepyshev

Let's continue our Player Profiles with a player that can be either a major steal, or a major reach at 28. Anton Slepyshev is a 17 year old dynamic winger playing the in KHL and has held his own as a kid playing against a league of men.

Now, I've seen some analysts rank the right handed shooting Slepyshev as high as 17 in their player rankings and as low as 51, though they all say the same thing, Anton can be a high end power forward in the NHL with above average speed, a plus shot and is a possession machine in the offensive zone.

While he's more of a score first player, Slepyshev has pretty good playmaking ability and needs to work on his physical game and grow into his 6'1 190lb frame as he could get pushed off the puck at times.

The reason why Anton is ranked so low is what some experts call "The Russian factor". More specifically, if the Rangers or any other team draft him they may not get him. The KHL is notorious for keeping their home grown talent by throwing bushels and bushels of money at him and there is a possibility of that happening with Slepyshev. Also, some prospect analysts rank him lower because they haven't really seen Anton dominate in the big league as a 17 year old.

From Corey Pronman's 100 Draft Prospects:

17. Anton Slepyshev, Left Wing, Novokuznetsk-KHL

Slepyshev is one of the rare 17-year-old forwards who has been able to step into the KHL and produce, albeit at a marginal level. His production is along the lines of what elite prospects Evgeny Kuznetsov and Vladimir Tarasenko did in their 17-year-old seasons, though, for example. Slepyshev is an above-average skater who is tremendously agile and is also able to get up to a notable top gear. When you combine his great agility with the fact he has high-end puck skills, he really is a nuisance to check. Slepyshev is very effective at dodging opponents and creating space for himself. I've seen times on penalty kills where he would dance around the opposing zone for 15-25 seconds because several opponents keep missing him. Slepyshev has a plus if not near that shot and he knows it, as he has a shoot-first mentality with the ability to score from way out. He can still make plays and doesn't have tunnel vision, but I wouldn't classify him as a playmaker. Slepyshev's physical game needs some work as while he's average-sized, he's got a bean pole frame and can easily be pushed off the puck. He will show some physical effort, although that at times could be better, and has some defensive value too, but his strength level is way behind where it needs to be.

From NHLMockDraft.org's player profile

Once he gets through the opposition he has a wide array of options to score with. His fakes are very deceptive and he can juke effectively at top speed. He’s equally capable finishing with the forehand and backhand and should be a top-level shootout performer when he makes it. In addition, his arsenal of weapons includes a particularly potent one-timer which he’ll willingly use from all angles.

The biggest concern for potential suitors is his status as a Russian in the KHL. It’s potentially far more lucrative for Slepyshev to remain in Russia than to cross the pond. Because he hasn’t made the commitment to North American hockey, there will always be the worry that he’ll never make the jump to the NHL (or, like Alex Radulov, jump back after a few seasons).

After the Jump: A few final thoughts and a highlight video of Slepyshev doing his thing

This is a player the Rangers should jump on if he's available at 28. Most teams in the 1-15 picks will pass on him because they want a player that they know will be in North America right away. Slepyshev has elite offensive talent that the Rangers would love to have in their system.

Also, how much fun would it be to hear Sather, Clarke and especially Sam and Joe try to pronounce "Anton Slepshyev"? That is worthy of the Rangers drafting him by itself.

Here's a highlight video of Slepshyev's talent:

Anton Slepyshev (via hockeysemin)

So what are your thoughts guys?

Should the Rangers draft Anton Slepyshev with the 28th pick in the Draft?