Carolina continued to pick up Russians in the draft as their value plummeted. Vladimir Grudinin is probably the best example of this. His lowest position in the mock drafts done by experts before the 2022 NHL entry draft was 88th overall. He fell to Carolina at 156th. Again, this is due to the fact he is a Russian defenseman and the ongoing situation with Russian players, but the Canes got value.
Grudinin’s biggest asset without a shadow of a doubt is his skating. He’s 5’10, so he has to be nimble because he’s not exactly got the stature of a huge hulking blueliner, but that doesn’t mean that he hasn’t been everything the team has looked for in a defender. He’s got the ability to stay with attacking players regardless of his size or stature. Skating seems to be more natural to Grudinin than walking.
In the Russian leagues this year, Grudinin made appearances in all of them. He played six games in the KHL and seven playoff games for CSKA Moscow in the KHL, as we can see that he is capable of playing against men in the Kontinental Hockey League. If he’s already doing that at a young age, there’s clearly something with this player that the organizations in both the USA and Russia liked about him.
Now, at 5’10, defending is going to be a little more challenging. We will see if Grudinin is capable of continuing to improve in all three zones, but he has shown growth in the two end zones this year and even just finding a top 4 D man that needs help in transition in the 5th round of the draft would be an absolute steal of a selection. We will see what happened with the smaller Russian blueliner.