The 19-year-old forward is preparing to become a full-time player of Torpedo.
Ilya Fedotov skated with Torpedo even before he became a regular player of the Junior Hockey League team. David Nemirovsky, the head coach of Nizhny Novgorod team back then, was giving credit to the young talent when he played in the U18 Hockey League. And when Fedotov was scoring two points per game during his last season in the U18 league, Nemirovsky called him up for the main team’s training camp. At that time, Fedotov had only played six games for Chaika.
Ilya Fedotov appeared in 98 JHL games and scored 67 (30+37) points. In the 2021/2022 season, the forward moved up the tiers and played 35 games in the Kontinental Hockey League, he averaged 8 minutes and 2 seconds per night and scored two goals. In the spring of 2022, he played JHL playoff games for Chaika and became the team's top scorer and goalscorer with 10 (6+4) points in ten games.
Fedotov's father was a hockey player too. He played for Belarusian national team and for many Superleague clubs. It was not only Ilya who was signed up for sports by Fedotov Sr., but his elder brother Maxim too. He is also a Torpedo system player, but almost a year older and plays defense. At the same time, the brothers are not natives of Nizhny Novgorod, they were born in Saratov. Local team Kristall is not a professional club anymore, so the Fedotovs moved to a different Volga team.
As the brothers said in an interview, Maxim was the first to start skating - at the age of three, Ilya walked in his footsteps six months later. Fedotov talked about his first skating experience: “I used a chair as skating aid, then my elder brother approached me and said: “Come on, leave it, you are with me now.” And somehow things sorted themselves out, I started doing better. The coaches decided I would play forward, and I enjoyed scoring goals and getting assists. At one point I wanted to move from forward to defense, but then I figured that it was too late to change position. When we were kids, dad worked with us every day, so it was easier – we were making progress through hard work.”
Ilya first learned about the Junior Hockey League from the Molodyozhka TV series. It was a project supported by the League, but still targeted more at general audience than at young hockey players. When the brothers joined the Torpedo system, Chaika achieved a history-shaping victory in the Kharlamov Cup playoffs, it happened in the 2014/2015 season.
The brothers were of great help for each other. Maxim said: “We always try to work on all the skills together. Since we are brothers, we have a tacit understanding with each other.” The fact that they play different positions does no harm either. Although both brothers have been called up to the national junior team, attention is being increasingly focused on Ilya. He plays forward, he is more notable - and many scouts give a high rating to him.
After Fedotov’s debut season in the JHL, KHL TV experts Kirill Kornilov and Artyom Bozhko put him on the list of the top 20 players of the season: “The 2003-born forward makes very mature and non-standard decisions. He can score both through-the-legs goals and one-timers - everything is fine with Fedotov, but, of course, he still lacks physicality. His playing style resembles that of Sergei Mozyakin – he is a small player too, but is great at escaping checks and protecting the puck.”
The player has also come under North American experts’ notice. “Fedotov’s toolkit jumps out at you when you watch him. He’s a strong skater with a very high skill level who can be dangerous off the rush with his speed and reach, getting around defenders often. He has good vision, but I wouldn’t call him a natural playmaker. Instead he prefers to attack with his skill. Off the puck he’s fine but it’s not the strength of his game.” - Corey Pronman wrote for The Athletic.
This set of characteristic features shows that Fedotov is quite a typical Russian winger, and this is more a quality mark of a clear mind and skillful hands. It is interesting that the hockey player’s idols changed with the passage of time: a couple of years ago Ilya Kovalchuk was his favorite player (“I’ve been following him since childhood. I like his playing style”), and in the most recent interviews the name of Artemy Panarin was mentioned. Perhaps this also shows the career path that the player himself wants to follow - to become not only a finisher-goalscorer, but a playmaking winger.
The former coaching staff set a high value on Fedotov, gave him chances to play even with the team leaders - Kenny Agostino and Andy Miele. Coaching changes should not hurt the state of things for Ilya - we saw how Igor Larionov's teams play at the Euro Hockey Tour and the group stage of the WJC. Now Fedotov may well be a Torpedo third-liner, and if there are no new imports joining the team, he can make it to the top-6.
The 2022/2023 season should be a breakthrough year for the young forward. His brother can also become a regular player of super-young Torpedo. Perhaps they will play on the same five-man line and join hands again.
It will hardly be easy, but Fedotov is ready for mistakes and correction work. In an interview with the KHL website, he said: “Yes, everyone makes mistakes, but you need to analyze and quickly forget them. Dwelling on mistakes does no good, it will give you a fear of failure. No one would like that."