2021-22 Team: London Knights (#89)
Date of Birth: Jan. 21, 2004
Place of Birth: Navy Urengoy, Russia
Ht: 5’11” Wt: 187 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2022 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 149th (NA Skaters)
- Future Considerations: 86th
- Peter Baracchini’s May Rankings: Not Ranked
- Andrew Forbes’ March Rankings: 96th
- Matthew Zator’s April Rankings: 81st
- SMAHT Scouting: Not Ranked
- Bob McKenzie’s Mid-Season Rankings: 61st
- Dobber Prospects Mid-Season Rankings: 61st
As an organization, the London Knights have produced a ton of NHL talent and they’re at it again. Ruslan Gazizov is small, but with some incredible offensive upside. The 18-year-old Russian was selected by the Knights in 12th overall in the 2021 CHL Import Draft, a year after he was taken 245th overall by the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders in the 2020 USHL Entry Draft.
Related: THW 2022 NHL Draft Guide
After he chose to sign with the Knights in October 2021, Gazizov made his OHL debut for the Knights in 2021-22, scoring 10 goals and 28 points in 54 regular season games in his first season in North America.
Many have Gazizov as a possible second-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft, while NHL Central Scouting dropped in much further down the list amongst North American skaters. That could be, in large part, to his lack of production as he joined a new league and had to build chemistry with those around him, but it could also be because of the holes that still exist in his game.
Offensively, he’s a force. He skates well, aside from his first step being slower than some, and his playmaking is one of the more notable aspects of his game. He sees the ice well and can stickhandle his way out of tight spaces beating the opponent in close-knit one-on-one battles.
His goal-scoring ability is apparent and he can be pretty deceptive with the puck when it comes to his release, but it’s safe to say that he’s not a player that is going to carry a line. Rather, he’s a player that will compliment others on his line — his playmaking and passing being a major part of that.
As for his defensive game, that’s where many of the holes lie. His 200-foot game is far from impressive and he needs to engage better in the defensive zone to make him a more complete player. Develop that side of his game and Gazizov could end up finding a way to holding down a middle-six spot on an NHL club at some point in the next few years.
Other THW Profiles
Ruslan Gazizov – NHL Draft Projection
He’s a fringe second-round player at this point. Given that he just finished his first year in North America and the organization in which he’s playing for — the Knights, who’ve developed a number of NHL players over the years — Gazizov will be an interesting prospect to watch in the draft. Some have him ranked at the tail end of the second round, while others have him somewhere in middle of the third. That said, don’t be surprised to see a team take a chance on him in the 65 to 75 range as an early third-round pick.
“While the offensive skills are there and he has shown the ability to be a creative playmaker, Gazizov projects to be a complimentary piece on a line rather than the driver on it. He could be a top six forward at the NHL level, but he’s going to have to put in some work in areas other than offence.” — Dominic Tiano, OHL Writers
“Versatile, offensively-gifted forward with great pace and execution speed. Needs to work on his defensive game, but could land a middle-six role as a complementary scorer.” — Hadi Kalakeche, Dobber Prospects
“Ruslan is an offensively gifted player with very good hockey sense and dynamic skill.” — Rob Simpson, London Knights associate GM
- Offensive skill
- Playmaking ability
- Stickhandling in tight spaces
Under Construction – Improvements to Make
- Defensive coverage
- Acceleration and first step
- 200-foot game
From what we’ve seen early on in his OHL career, Gazizov is a highly-skilled forward with a ton of offensive upside. He may not develop into a top-tier superstar that can run his own line, but it’s safe to say that he has the potential to be play on a top power play unit and find a comfortable role as a middle-six on an NHL club.
Risk – 3/5, Reward 3.5/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense – 7.5/10, Defense – 5.5/10
Gazizov has flown under the radar a bit when it comes to career accomplishments to this point. However, he was a member of the Russian team at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup that took home gold and finished with the mosts assists in the tournament.
Ruslan Gazizov’s Statistics
Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.