photo by russianprospects.com
Name: Dmitry Kugryshev
Weight: 187 lbs
Hometown: Moscow, Russia
When it was announced last week that Dmitry Kugryshev was signed by the Caps to a three-year entry-level deal, fans were excited. Anyone who attended development camp knows that he looked to be a promising young player from the land of Alexander Ovechkin. The Moscow-bred 20-year-old is now eligible to play with the Hershey Bears once his Québec Remparts season is over.
Dmitry first came into the hockey public eye in the 2008 World Junior Championships. He had 4 points (including a goal) in 7 games, and helped the Russians toward a bronze medal. His 2008-09 rookie season with the Remparts was a great entrance into North American hockey. That season, he scored 40 goals and notched 54 assists, and won the Michel-Bergeron Trophy, awarded by the QMJHL to the Best Offensive Rookie of the year (an award that Sidney Crosby won in 2004 with Rimouski Océanic). Drafted by the Caps in 2008 (2nd round, 58th overall), Dmitry showed excitement about his drafting team, especially considering the Russians on the team at the time - Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Viktor Kozlov, and Sergei Federov. On his visit to Washington after the draft, Dmitry was invited to dinner with Ovechkin, his parents, Semin, and Federov. On his blog (H/T to On Frozen Blog), Dmitry was pleasantly surprised by his selection:
I was extremely happy – to be picked at all, and to be picked by them. There are a lot of Russians on the team, and the team itself is really good. Went there for the training camp. Loved everything: the City, the Team. Honestly, everything was awesome.
Now into his second QMJHL season with the Remparts (of which he's considered the star), his numbers have improved still - in 66 games played, he's scored a whopping 87 points (29 goals and 58 assists). Hockey's Future currently ranks him #10 on their list of Washington Capitals prospects - one spot above Cody Eakin, who was signed by the Caps earlier this season. Hockey's Future offers the scout's perspective on Dmitry's skills. He's called a "solid winger" and especially talented along the boards "where he uses his technique, balance and toughness to win most of the battles also thanks to his resilience to opponent’s physical play." His passing still needs work, but some work with the Bears' A-line (Giroux, Aucoin, and Gordon) should definitely help his passing play. He's a very dedicated and passionate player, but doesn't "over-rush his play to impress the coach or the scouts."
His Remparts coach Patrick Roy agrees. In an interview with Dmitry Chesnokov in June 2009, Kugryshev said:
Patrick told me that I have everything to play in the NHL. But he also told me that I shouldn’t stop working on improving myself and turn my good hockey skills into even better ones. He is very interested in me realizing my dream of playing for the Capitals as soon as possible.
With his current numbers and provided his improvement in some areas (which is certain in a system like Hershey), Kugryshev is poised to become the next Nicklas Backstrom (although Kugryshev says he gets inspiration from Semin's play). But knowing how valuable Backstrom is to the team, the eventual addition of Kugryshev to the lineup will be a very good move for the Capitals.
I enjoy this interview that Kugi did with sportsandmoore.com earlier this season. His English has improved by leaps and bounds since his first training camp.