Beset with injuries, the Carolina Hurricanes bring up Russian winger Valentin Zykov from Charlotte
The Carolina Hurricanes announced this afternoon the call-up of Valentin Zykov to Raleigh. Although today was a travel day with no media access, it is probably safe to assume that Zykov’s arrival at the club means either Phil Di Giuseppe or Brock McGinn (or both) will be out of action for a bit longer. Last night the Carolina Hurricanes played with only eleven forwards and seven defensemen against the Colorado Avalanche. The lack of depth definitely showed in the team’s play.
Zykov came to Carolina as part of the package, along with a conditional fifth round pick, last season that sent Kris Versteeg to the Kings at the trade deadline. Some expected the Russian to be a first rounder but the winger fell on draft day. Eventually, the Los Angeles Kings selected Zykov in the second round (37th overall) of the 2013 draft.
Zykov’s offensive game has improved dramatically from the year before. The Russian winger registered only 14 points (7 goals, 7 assists) all with the Ontario Reign. This year Zykov doubled that total with the Charlotte Checkers. His fifteen goals are tied for second and his thirty points good third best on the AHL team. If both Di Giuseppe and McGinn can’t play tomorrow expect Zykov to suit up for his very first NHL game.
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What to Watch For
Before the draft, Elite Prospects lauded Zykov, “A highly skilled offensive minded player. Zykov is strong, skates very well and has impressive hands and creativity. Good scorer and potential to become a high scoring player in the future.”
Dobber Prospects had this to say about the winger before the draft:
"Zykov projects as a dominating puck possession power forward and is among the many players discussed as a potential first-round selection"
and then more recently before the start of his season in Charlotte:
"The creative winger has the ability to take a step forward in his development in 2016-17 if he is able to stay healthy. He will likely slot into a scoring role at the AHL level this season, and will be given every opportunity to showcase his talent. He is a bit of a wildcard in the Canes season at this point, and is still very much a high risk, high reward prospect."
At 6′ 1″ and 225 lbs, Zykov won’t be easy to push off the puck and should be able to hang in the NHL on a physical level. The main question is if he can adjust to the speed at the higher level. If he fulfills his scouting report, Zykov’s puck possession skills should fit right in with Peter’s system.
No word yet on where he will slot in, but adding another big powerful forward with a good shot to the duo of Staal and Lindholm wouldn’t be a bad idea. Staal is known for being able to carry lesser skilled players. Hopefully, this will be the first of many offensive prospects that start to make their mark on the Carolina Hurricanes