TLN Top 20 Prospects 2016: #10 Nikita Soshnikov

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In March of 2015, not very many North American hockey fans recognized the name Nikita Soshnikov.  Only one year later, Soshnikov has become one of the most well-known prospects in the Leafs organization. Though his first North American season was not magnificent (points wise), Soshnikov certainly impressed upper management last season.  His skill set makes him an exciting player to watch, and he became a fan favourite in his brief 11-game NHL stint last season.  So, what exactly should we be expecting from 22-year-old Soshnikov in the upcoming season? What is he capable of producing, and what is his ceiling?

Coming in at number 10 in our TLN Top 20 feature is our very own Russian rocket, Nikita Soshnikov.  

THE VOTES 

Jeff Ryan H. Shawn Ryan F. Adam Dom Jess Katy Readers
9 8 N/R 10 16 15 7 6 7

Soshnikov was ranked at number 13 in our 2015 series.

PLAYER BIO 

Position Hometown Height Weight Hand 2015 Team Acquired
RW Nizhny Tagil, RUS 5’11 183 L Toronto Marlies UFA (2015)

THE STATS 

 SEASON Age TEAM LEAGUE GP G A TP NHLe PIM +/-
 2010-11 17  Mytishchinskie Atlanty  MHL 48 17 10 27 8.3 14 8
 2011-12 18  Atlanty Mytishchi  MHL 47 14 20 34 10.68 12 7
 2012-13 19  Atlanty Mytishchi  MHL 59 38 34 72 18.01 47 44
 2013-14 20  Atlant Mytishchi  KHL 33 2 3 5 9.94 27 -4
  20  Atlanty Mytishchi  MHL 10 5 8 13 19.19 4 10
 2014-15 21  Atlant Mytishchi  KHL 57 14 18 32 36.82 22 5
 2015-16 22  Toronto Maple Leafs  NHL 11 2 3 5 37.27 6 -4
  22  Toronto Marlies  AHL 52 18 10 28 20.52 18 26

PROJECTION STATS

pGPSn pGPSs pGPS% pGPS PPG pGPS PP82 pGPSr
670 (2/18) 126 (3/18) 18.8% (16/18) 0.38 (16/18) 31.02 (16/18) 7.11 (16/18)

  • pGPSn: The number of matches between the subject and the player-seasons (one season by a single player, i.e, John Tavares 2008 OHL) in the historical sample.
  • pGPSs: The number of statistical matches that became NHL regulars. This is determined by playing 200 NHL games.
  • pGPS%: Simply s divided by n, this is the percentage of statistical matches that successfully became NHL players.
  • pGPS PPG: The NHL points per game of successful matches.
  • pGPS P82: The same as pGPS PPG, but stretched over 82 games.
  • pGPSr: A bit of a hybrid number, this pGPS Rating combines the percentage and points per game to produce a number that includes both likelihood of success and potential upside.

Based on the success of his historical comparables, Soshnikov is projected to become a third line forward.

To learn more about the Prospect Graduation Probabilities System, check out this post.

THE EYE TEST 

Soshnikov plays a quick, skilled game as a smaller forward.  He works hard in all areas of the ice and does not shy away from physical play, despite his size.  Soshnikov is a very exciting player to watch; he can be flashy at times and is very energetic on the ice.  He is able to control and protect the puck very well and utilizes his speed to quickly move past opponents. Soshnikov is also excellent at driving offence, particularly through his impressive shot generation.  He is exceptional on the penalty kill and was often seen headlining the Marlies penalty kill last season.  

AS SEEN ON TV   

Highlights start around the 0:25 mark.

THE BUILDUP 

Soshnikov, an undrafted NHL forward, began his career in Russia. He played in the MHL (the Russian junior league) in his teen years, scoring at an above point-per-game pace in his last season (2012-13).  Soshnikov made the jump to the KHL midway through the 2013-14 season, playing for Atlant Mytishchi and scoring 5 points in 33 games.  He followed his not overly-impressive KHL debut with an eye-catching sophomore season, scoring 32 points in 57 games on an Atlant team that did not qualify for the playoffs. Soshnikov signed with the Leafs in March of 2015.  

READ MORE: Leafs sign free agent Nikita Soshnikov to three-year, entry-level contract

Soshnikov certainly impressed Leafs management last year, taking in 11 NHL games in his first North American hockey season.  He also scored 28 points in 52 AHL games (2015-16).  

READ MORE: Soshnikov continues to impress with pair of goals in 3-1 Marlies win

NEXT SEASON   

Soshnikov had a good rookie season in the AHL, and I expect his point totals to increase next season.  I do not believe that Soshnikov will be able to make the Leafs out of camp this year, though.  Another year of AHL hockey, while combined with a few call-ups here and there, will be the best option for Soshnikov. His consistent work effort is a strong point in his game, and I’m sure the Leafs would like to see improvements in both Soshnikov’s point totals and his on-ice finishing ability.

CLOSING THOUGHTS 

Soshnikov played on the Marlies makeshift fourth line for the majority of the season, alongside Frederik Gauthier and Rich Clune. It is pretty remarkable to see what Soshnikov was able to achieve on a line with two players who are not typically known for their offensive abilities.  One has to wonder what exactly Soshnikov would be able to achieve if consistently placed on a line with more skilled players, NHL-level talent or even a mix of different skill sets.  The Soshnikov/Gauthier/Clune line was effective in that Gauthier/Clune were able to retrieve the puck and pass to Soshnikov, who dominated against the opponent’s fourth lines.  

I look forward to seeing how Soshnikov’s game will improve in a year’s time.  I do truly believe Soshnikov will be able to make the jump to the NHL in a couple of years or so, as well.  I would project him to be a third line, skilled, power forward with good offensive capability.  At his ceiling, Soshnikov could be a play-driving, top 6 NHL forward. For now, a few more seasons in the AHL will help Soshnikov round out his game and develop to his full potential.  

THE RANKINGS SO FAR  

  • Tommy Cat

    Keefe moved Sosh up the lineup but said that he was more effective in the bottom six. That he deferred more when playing with more skilled players. I think a part of that was the North American adjustment.

    Sosh has a heart of a lion. Reminds me of Dany Markov in that respect. Kids a beauty. I’m predicting he makes the Leafs right outta camp. My only concern is his style of play given his size may lead to an injury riddled career.

    • magesticRAGE

      I have that concern as well. Kadri is a good example, where he picks his spots and opponents without being passive. He will deserve to be in the lineup, but space will be at a premium.

      • Gary Empey

        Re – ” space will be at a premium. ”

        It would be nice to have a bunch of rookies like Matthews who are a lock to make the team.

        What we do have is a piss-pot full of guys all ready to start their NHL careers.

        There are two more waves of good prospects coming in right behind them.

        This is a problem I don’t remember seeing the Leafs have before.

  • Tommy Cat

    His play style reminds me of a Grabo/Komarov mix. He’s not afraid to hit or get hit and he can fly down the ice. I think he has a chance to be a good NHLer.

  • SEER

    Nice blog and perspective, Jess.. and thanks for the post, but you might have wanted to use one of the two latest videos O made for him, here..

    Highway Robbery: Nikita Soshnikov 2015-16 Highlights – TML

    —-> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ey1TCaH0W7Q

    (*NEWEST)

    Soshin’: All Nikita Soshnikov’s 2015-16 Goals & Highlights- TML

    —> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7D1xmgeFCRw

    Also have to ask you…, what the heck does.. …”AS SEEN ON TV ” mean, that you posted just above my video..? LOL!

    You mean You-Tube, right..? : )

    • Gary Empey

      Re – “AS SEEN ON TV ” ……

      We need someone like Marshall McLuhan to coin a new term for the digital age.

      Also there may be some legal implications when a commercial venue like this website, uses copyrighted material that was originally made for TV.

  • Stan Smith

    I like what I saw when Soshnikov was called up last season, but if he was considered 4th line material for the Marlies, I think his chances of staying with the Leafs are slim. Plus I think he will be a victim of the numbers. An expanded role with the Marlies might be the best thing for him at this point in his career.