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A lot hope, a lot nope: Will Berezkin make it with Oilers when so many Russians haven’t?

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Maxim Berezkin is trying extra like a future NHLer yearly.

He’s large and aggressive, he’s lastly getting main ice time for Yaroslavl Lokomotiv of the KHL, and he put up a very good variety of factors as a 21-year-old in Russian’s high league, 26 in 52 video games.

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He shall be 22 in October and is below contract to Lokomotiv by the 2023-24 season, whereas the Oilers maintain his NHL rights indefinitely.

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If he comes right here subsequent season for the 2024-25 season, he’ll presumably be one of many high gamers in Yaroslavl by then, 23 years previous, and probably able to rumble on a much bigger stage.

He might properly change into a serious piece of the Oilers for the subsequent 5 to 10 years, and I say this at the same time as so many Russian gamers have did not succeed right here. After all, Berezkin is a person, his personal man, and he’s not sure to flop as many different high Russian prospects have in Edmonton. But when he does make it and play a major a part of his profession right here, he’ll be the primary Russian participant to take action, give or take Boris Mironov and his 4 strong seasons with the Oilers, 1995-99.

Within the ned, Mironov performed 320 video games for the Oilers, scoring 160 factors, with an extra 24 playoffs video games and 16 factors.

However even Mironov was traded out of right here whereas nonetheless in his hockey prime.

A number of Russian gamers have completed properly right here for brief durations of time, comparable to Sergei Samsonov within the spring of 2016 and Klim Kostin final 12 months. However neither Samsonov nor Kostin caught with the Oilers, nor the Oilers with them. And all types of Russian gamers have struggled right here, together with Dmitry Kulikov, Anton Belov, Nikita Nikitin, Nikolai Khabibulin, Ilya Bryzgalov and, in fact, Nail Yakupov.

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Video games performed and factors in Edmonton for normal season and playoffs for Russian gamers, from

For no matter causes — dangerous drafting, dangerous growth, dangerous luck, lack of  dedication from both the participant or the Oilers — the Oilers haven’t completed what so many different NHL franchises have completed, which is to profit from the nice pool of expertise in Russia and draft, develop and maintain round a star Russian participant by the complete prime of his NHL profession. Nor have they traded for a Russian participant who has thrived right here long run.

It’s not for lack of making an attempt. The Oilers have drafted 33 Russian gamers over time, together with utilizing the primary general decide within the 2012 draft to take Yakupov, and one other first decide, seventeenth general, within the 2000 draft to take Alexei Mikhnov. One third of Edmonton’s drafted Russians have been taken within the Prime 100 picks of their respective drafts, however not a kind of gamers had had a strong NHL profession.

The one Russian drafted by the Oilers who did properly for Edmonton within the NHL was Anatoli Semenov, taken one hundred and twentieth general within the 1989 draft, however Semenov was a part of an exodus of veteran Russian gamers who left residence after the collapse of the Soviet Union. He was a identified commodity, who had starred for Moscow Dynamo for a decade. Semenov performed two strong seasons for Edmonton earlier than he was traded to Tampa.

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Profession NHL stats for Russian gamers drafted by the Edmonton Oilers, from HockeyDB

The Oilers picked a few of the high younger Russian stars within the late Eighties and early Nineteen Nineties, large title prospects like Igor Vyazmikin, who had dominated two World Junior tournaments, dman Vladimir Zubkov and netminder Evgeny Bolsheiken, who was as soon as seen because the goalie of the longer term for the Russian nationwide group. However none of them made it in Edmonton.

Lately, there’s been loads of hope for giant forwards like Bogdan Yakimov and Anton Slepyshev, d-man Ziyat Paigin, ahead Kirill Maksimov, d-man Dmitry Samorukov, and goalie Ilya Konovalov. However not certainly one of them made an enormous mark in Edmonton both.

The most recent crop contains a lot of promising gamers, together with Berezkin, who the Oil took 138th general within the 2020 draft.


In its spring of 2020 NHL draft information, Elite Prospects reported in regards to the prospect: “He is likely one of the very high offensive gamers on Loko, which makes him worthy of a protracted have a look at least. Beryozkin scores with quantity and has proficient dealing with expertise. He creates offence by roughing opponents within the offensive zone and taking the puck alongside the wall.”

The Draft Analyst equipped a meatier report on the participant, who they ranked at #107. Excerpted right here: “With a big body and superior offensive abilities in key areas, Maksim Beryozkin is difficult to overlook when a Loko sport is on. A right-handed shot, he mans his off wing on the left facet of the highest line alongside Oilers’ heart prospect Maksim Denezhkin and undrafted proper wing Yegor Manin… Beryozkin profiles as a complimentary winger on the NHL degree who gives particular groups worth on the situation his skating improves. His sport could also be higher suited to proper wing given his distinctive passing capability.”

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In November 2020, prospectophile Sean Patrick Ryan gave this measured evaluation of Berezkin in a visitor publish right here on the Cult of Hockey final November: “While you watch him play, the very first thing you discover is how properly he strikes across the ice for an enormous man (he’s 6’4”, 216 lbs). He has actual fast toes and acceleration which actually helps him in transition. He has fluid hips and his edge work is excellent. He’s a robust skater and will get numerous torque on his shot. However, his puck expertise & puck management appear to be common at greatest & he struggles with accuracy. I discovered in a number of viewings that his work ethic wasn’t all the time the place it must be and he actually lacked in puck help. Very often he’d watch his teammates do the soiled work whereas he seemed for an open spot on the ice, as a substitute of participating or supporting the participant.”

Berezkin’s sport took an enormous step ahead this previous 12 months, as he earned a full-time job with Yaroslavl, versus the end-of-the-bench-duty he’d obtained within the his first two KHL seasons.

Now we wait to see if he’ll signal right here subsequent summer season.

Expectations for 2023-24: That Berezkin continues to get main ice time for Yaroslavl, securing a spot on one of many high two strains and scoring extra, maybe 40 factors over the complete season.

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