2020 Edmonton Oilers prospects
#5 Dmitri Samorukov
By Sean Patrick Ryan
If you’ve never watched him play, Dmitri Samorukov’s game can be accurately described as …. eventful. That means there is a lot of positive and negative in his style of play. That has been the trademark of his hockey career over the years, which led to an article back in 2018 highlighting the Good Dima vs. Bad Dima.
Samorukov has a bunch of NHL translatable skills, with skating probably being his best trait. He is extremely mobile for his size. He shows great acceleration, nifty edge work, and has good top end speed. He loves to join the attack and carry the puck through the neutral zone. He’ll also pinch in from the point quickly and without hesitation. Even his backwards skating has improved as he seems more committed to it, instead of just always turning and chasing.
Another thing that seemed to improve this past season and should help him as a pro was his shot selection. In Guelph, he was known for his big one-timer that often rattled the glass behind the net. He has a cannon of a shot but accuracy was a real problem. In Bakersfield, he seemed to rely on low hard wristers more often than not. That led better scoring chances, either thru deflections, rebounds or screens.
Playing for the Condors, Samorukov didn’t play a lot of minutes and when he did, it was on the 3rd pairing most nights. He did develop some nice chemistry with Joel Persson for a stretch. But more importantly, he showed progression over the course of the season. His consistency in terms of effort was probably the most pleasant surprise. He’s been known in the past to take shifts and games off. But, this past season he appeared to be very involved and active in games despite the limited ice time.
Defensively, Samorukov is still very much a work in progress. He’s still not great at puck retrievals but did a much better job at gap control, limiting time and space for opponents. The physical part of his game is hit and miss. He has the ability to be a tough-to-play-against, shut down type but he seems to prefer to rove a bit and take risks offensively.
Decision making is likely going to be Samorukov’s achilles heel and ultimately determine how good he can be as a prospect. There’s still a bit of “chaos” to his game in that he takes some unnecessary chances at times. He has flashes of brilliance one shift, then displays some real head scratching decision making the next. He seems to think he can be a real offensive threat, but could be better served to focus on the defensive side of his game if he’s going to have a long career as a pro.
Samorukov’s immediate future will be in the KHL. He was loaned to CSKA Moskva for the 2020-21 season. Considering the amount of limited playing time he received in Bakersfield last season, that’s probably a good thing. But he should be back the following year and should be brimming with confidence assuming he plays a lot there.
As for his longterm future in the Edmonton organization, Samorukov still has a good chance to be an impact player at some point for the Oilers. There is concern that the defensive side of his game won’t improve much in the KHL as it would in the AHL, but there’s no certainty there will even be an AHL season. Time will tell if he is able to make the necessary improvements defensively. Either way, he’s probably not good enough yet at either end so does need to continue to progress to have a real chance as an NHL pro. He certainly has the confidence in himself that he will one day. With the depth the Oilers have now on defence, the question will be….where?