Winnipeg Jets select Russian forward in round two of 2021 NHL entry draft

The Winnipeg Jets  selected Russian Forward Nikita Chibrikov,  Defenseman Dmitry Kuzmin of Belarus, and Russian Forward Dmitri Rashevsky with their second, third and fifth round picks of the 2021 NHL entry draft,

Barring any trades, the Jets will be done for the day as they did not have picks in the fourth, sixth, and seventh rounds as a result of previous transactions with Vegas, Vancouver and Florida for Paul Stastny, Jordie Benn and Bogdan Kiselevich respectively.

Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff began the day by selecting Chibrikov with the 50th overall pick in the second round. It was only the third time since the franchise relocated from Atlanta in 2011 that Winnipeg had taken a Russian player.

The Jets selected Center Pavel Kraskovsky in the sixth round in 2014 but he never came to North America, choosing instead to continue playing for Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the KHL. Two years later in 2016, Winnipeg opted for goalie Mikhail Berdin of Team Russia U-18 with their sixth round pick. Berdin has been a standout with the Manitoba Moose of the AHL for the past three seasons.

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Chibrikov is a five-foot-ten, 170-pound forward who scored one goal and had one assist in 16 games with St. Petersburg SKA of the KHL this past season. The 18 year old Moscow born winger will play at least the next two seasons in his home country to prepare before eventually making his way to North America.

“It’s a long time, two years. I need the work to do to become an NHL player.” said Chibrikov in surprisingly good English during a zoom call availability several hours after being drafted. “Now I’m working for the future, but I don’t know how it will be.”

Chibrikov, who can ply either wing, had a very strong performance at the World Under 18 Championship in Dallas in the late spring. In addition to contributing on the ice, with 4 goals and a tournament leading 9 assists for 13 points in 7 games, the future Jet also served as team captain. “I am really proud to be named captain of the National team. It was very good memories for me,” was how Chibirkov responded to being asked about wearing the C. “I like more know about leadership, how I need to be good on the team, how I need to talk with the guys.”

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Chibrikova sees himself as more of a play maker who can skate and has a good Hockey IQ – but can also adjust his game to be a scorer. “Go one on one and score goals from unreal positions,”  was part of that shared self-assessment from the young Russian winger who has already begun training camp with St. Petersburg for the coming KHL season.

Kuzmin is an undersized left shot defenseman at 5-9 and 178 pounds. The 18 year old rearguard from Kholstovo, Belarus also played for his country at the World Under 18 Championship in Dallas and averaged a point per game with 1 goal and 4 assists in 5 Tournament games.

In Belarus league play for Dinamo-Molodechno, Kuzmin scored 3 goals and added 9 assists for 12 points in 46 games.  He is expected to play in North America this coming season as his CHL rights belong to the Flint Firebirds of the OHL.

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Rashevsky will turn 21 in October and is a 6-1 and 165 pound right winger who scored 11 goals and had 5 assists for 16 points in 24 games with Dynamo St Petersburg of the VHL. He also had one assist in nine games with Moscow Dynamo of the KHL, while also playing briefly for three other teams over the course of the 2020-21 season. Rashevsky re-entered the draft for a third time after being passed over in 2019 and 2020.

During Friday’s first round, Winnipeg took 18-year-old center Chaz Lucius with what was officially the 18th overall pick in the draft. The six-foot-one, 185-pound center was actually the 17th player selected because Arizona had to forfeit the 11th choice. That was a result of a previous ruling by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman following an investigation into the Coyotes working out prospects prior to the 2020 draft which is a rules violation.

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Vancouver Canucks GM on multi-player trade with Arizona Coyotes – Jul 23, 2021

Lucius scored 13 goals and added five assists for 18 points in 12 USHL games for the U.S. national development team this past season. He had knee surgery in August that kept him off the ice until early in 2021. Then he had to miss the World U18 tournament in Dallas in late April because of a fever and quarantine protocols.

Lucius is committed to playing in his home state for the University of Minnesota Gophers this coming NCAA season.

Read more: Winnipeg Jets take American centre Chaz Lucius in NHL Draft

Winnipegger Carson Lambos was the 25th player selected (26th overall) on the night, as the Minnesota Wild took the six-foot-one, 197-pound defenseman from the WHL Winnipeg Ice with the second pick of the first round.

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Lambos was projected to go higher in the draft but missed most of the WHL’s pandemic-shortened season because of a medical procedure. He played just four games in total this past season: two for JyP HT in the Finnish League and two for Winnipeg in the WHL’s Regina Hub.

Three other Manitoba products were taken on Day Two.  Winnipeg born left winger Conner Roulette in the fourth round (111th) by Dallas. Defenseman Cole Jordan of Brandon in the fifth round (141st) by Calgary. And Center Tyson Kozak of Souris in round seven (193rd) by Buffalo.

Roulette is a  5-11, 180 pound left winger who had 6 goals and 6 assists for 12 points in 11 games with the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds before leaving the team to help Canada win a gold medal at the World Under 18 Tournament.

Jordan is a 6-0, 173 pound left shot defenseman who scored 3 goals and added 7 assists for 10 points in 23 games in the Regina Hub for the Moose Jaw Warriors.

Kozak, a 5-11 and 173 pound pivot with Portland, finished the abbreviated schedule with 3 goals and 8 assists for 11 points in 18 games with the Winterhawks.

Players with ties to Manitoba who were drafted include Brandon Wheat Kings Center Jake Chiasson (Abbotsford, BC) – taken 5 picks after Roulette at 116th overall in the fourth round by Edmonton.

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And Winnipeg Ice netminder Gage Alexander (Okotoks, AB)  was a fifth round selection of Anaheim, 148th overall.

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