10.05.2022 в 13:00

The uniqueness of the 2021/2022 JHL season – over a hundred of 16-year-old players

Players born in 2005 are conquering the Junior Hockey League.

In the 2021/2022 season, 123 players born in 2005 made their debuts with 30 JHL teams. It is a record number and its main reason is the extremely talented generation of hockey players of this age in Russia. The Russian national team comprised of the players born in 2005 didn’t get a chance to participate in large-scale international competitions yet. But bright players distinguished themselves at the minor hockey level. KHL TV commentator and expert of the official JHL website Anton Vasyatin – about 16-year-old players in the JHL season.

Dynamo and Lokomotiv are setting trends

Dynamo Moscow and Lokomotiv Yaroslavl systems bring young talents to light year after year. But it is not often that the representatives of only two clubs make up majority of a national team. A similar situation was relatively recently - in the 2014/2015 season, when in the first international season for guys born in 1999, the coaches used more than two dozen Dynamo and Yaroslavl players.

The most noticeable young players of Dynamo in the 2021/2022 season were Igor Chernyshov and Yegor Rimashevsky. Not all the call-ups (there were 13 in total) started appearing in games from the very beginning of the regular season. If we take Chernyshov, he made his debut on January 11 playing for Dynamo against Krasnaya Armiya on the road. Even though the opponent was tough, Dynamo decided to give the young guys a chance in those games. Almost half of the lineup was composed of players born in 2005, and they got a lot of ice time. Yaroslav Lyuzenkov even put the league debutants’ line on the powerplay. Thanks to such trust, 16-year-old players scored five points in total, and most importantly, Dynamo won both games.

KHL TV commentator and volunteer coach Dmitry Fedorov:
− Coach Anton Korredor worked with this age group of Dynamo for many years, the core team remained the same. A good reputation was developed, other strong players were joining the team. Anton Antonovich was putting his heart and soul into guys, and was obsessed with what he was doing during practices and games. His all-or-nothing thinking and love of discipline were transferred to the team. And in the previous season, Alexei Nikolaevich Kudashov joined the team as a volunteer coach. He actively participated in 90% of training. The guys had a lot of theoretical sessions. Thanks to this, they mastered a rather complex 1-3-1 model with systems thinking. They worked on powerplay and penalty killing, on how to apply pressure and play in 3-on-3 format. The guys felt that special attitude and care. It inspired them.

As for Lokomotiv, the Yaroslavl club had a little more opportunity to give young players a chance, since Loko was a member of the Western Conference, and Loko-76 appeared in the Eastern Conference. Both of those teams had a sufficient number of young players (some even played for both teams). In total, Lokomotiv gave a chance to 13 players, among whom there is one name that you have probably heard more than once -Daniil But. He made his debut with an assist in the season-opening game against the defending champion Dynamo, and scored his first goal three games later. The forward of the Lokomotiv system scored 44 (17+27) points in the regular season. Throughout the JHL history there were only two players who managed to score more points at the age of 16 - Nikita Kucherov and Matvei Michkov.

Another player who has approved himself in Loko is defenseman Dmitry Simashev. He was the team’s most solid and productive player in this position. On September 20, Simashev scored his first JHL goal followed by another one to SKA-Varyagi. He was also credited with an assist in the playoff game against Almaz. The successful performance of Lokomotiv players came as no surprise. It was this generation that won the prestigious children's tournament Gazprom Neft Cup in 2016.

– In a properly built club vertical, there is an understanding of who should be called up to JHL games at such an early age. It is often difficult for a 16-year-old to compete with 19-year-olds as an equal. But if the club counts on player development, but not the immediate result, then a player will definitely get a chance. Dynamo and Lokomotiv have excellent guys born in 2005, so we see them in the JHL,” continues Dmitry Fedorov.

Yegor Zavragin — 16-year-old goalie wins leader

It is much easier for a young skater, even the most talented one, to make a new league compared to a goaltender. Goalie is a position treated reverently, and any mistake is immediately noticed by everyone, which cannot be said about the failures of defensemen or forwards. Yegor Zavragin from Mamonty Ugry was able to do his job perfectly well. In the 2021/2022 season, he had 20 wins, which was a record for a 16-year-old goalie in one JHL regular season. Andrei Filonenko held the previous record for Krasnaya Armiya with 19 wins in 2011/2012 season. In total, Zavragin played 31 games to tie the record of Yaroslav Askarov, who played the same number of games for SKA-Varyagi in the 2018/2019 season. Over the past year, the goaltender from Khanty-Mansiysk was every bit as good as the elder players - both in terms of skills and confidence.

Gulyayev and Ulyev are record-holding defensemen

The vivid performance of Omskie Yastreby defenseman Mikhail Gulyayev, a native of Novosibirsk (35 points) allowed him to surpass the previous record among 16-year-old defensemen by 15 points. The previous record of 20 points was achieved by Yegor Bryutov when he played for Tyumensky Legion (2017/2018 season). As a player of the third defense pair, Gulyayev was on the ice at the most difficult moments, he battled with confidence and helped his partners in the offensive zone on numerous occasions. He was given a chance to approve himself as a special teams’ member, and Mikhail repaid that trust. Now memorize this last name, if you haven’t done it yet - Gulyayev should become a prominent KHL player in the near future.

In the 2021/2022 season, two more 16-year-old players were in the top 10 point producing defensemen of this age in the history of the JHL. We are talking about Loko D-men Dmitry Simashev (16 points) and Mark Ulyev (13 points). Ulyev also had the highest plus-minus among players of his age. +25 is also a JHL record.

Chernyshov sets playoffs records

In the first playoff game of Dynamo Moscow, Igor Chernyshov became the youngest player in the history of the JHL to score four goals in one game. At the time of that game against Dynamo St. Petersburg, the forward was 16 years, 3 months and 9 days old. Later he managed to score his fifth goal in the game against SKA-1946. In total, the clubs used 29 players born in 2005 in the playoffs, four of them managed to score goals. The Dynamo forward has already been mentioned, and defenseman Ivan Remezovsky (SKA-1946), forward Yegor Yadykin (Omskie Yastreby) and forward Ivan Ryabov (Krylya Sovetov) scored one goal each.

Throughout the JHL history there were only two 16-year-old players who managed to score more goals than Chernyshov - Maxim Shalunov (Belye Medvedi, 2009/2010) and Pavel Podluboshnov (Krasnaya Armiya, 2013/2014). Gulyayev set a record with most points by a defenseman (5).

222 goals in a season – a unique achievement for 16-year-olds

In the 2021/2022 season, 16-year-old players scored 222 goals in total - yet another record. Daniil But is leading with 17 goals, followed by Radel Zamaltdinov (Irbis), who scored one goal less. A year earlier, Matvei Michkov scored 39 goals. In the 2021/2022 season 58 players scored at least once.

Those who were far from But's stats shall also be mentioned. Let’s say, Ivan Demidov, who moved from Vityaz to the SKA system in the summer of 2021. If he had played more games (he appeared in 25 games and scored 21 points), then perhaps he would have become the most point-producing 16-year-old player. Even now, he can be called one of the most fast-paced and skillful forwards in the JHL. Alexander Rykov scored ten goals for Belye Medvedi. Russkie Vityazi goalie Leonid Smirnov appeared in 11 games and won 7 of them.

Anton Vasyatin