During his post draft interview, Ivan Morozov answered questions from the media. In this interview, someone asked him where he wanted to visit most in the U.S. His response through a translator was “Dressing room in Vegas”.
This is a player who has clear ambitions and wants to earn a spot on the Golden Knights ASAP.
Born in Verkhnyaya Salda, Russia on May 5, 2000, the 21-year-old has had an interesting career so far. He has struggled to play more than 20 games a season with the same team within the three professional Russian leagues.
Due to this constant movement, it’s not a surprise that he has struggled with consistency in the past.
This past season was the first time since the 2017-2018 campaign that he played more than 20 games for the same team. He recorded 31 total points in 55 KHL games during the 2020-2021 season. Respectable numbers for a 20-year-old in a top-level league.
When he was drafted 61 overall by the Vegas Golden Knights, he was touted as a high-quality two-way centerman. Though it appears that he puts more stock into his offensive abilities. During his post-draft interview, Morozov said that he modeled his game after players like Washington’s Evgeny Kuznetzov.
He has shown he can perform in a top-flight league as shown by his performance in the KHL last season. But it is yet to be seen if he can adjust to the way the North American game is played. However, if he is able to, then he is absolutely capable of making the Golden Knights roster.
A player suited for Vegas
As of right now, the Golden Knights lack depth in their center position. While Morozov may not achieve top-line status, he possesses the tools needed to earn a spot on the roster.
Morozov plays his game with power and strength. Very different from how his Russian compatriot and fellow Golden Knights prospect, Pavel Dorofeyev plays the game. Unlike Dorofeyev’s finesse approach, Morozov is more likely to power through defending players like a truck. He uses his size and speed to impose his will on the opposing team.
While in the offensive zone, Morozov seems to prefer working his angles until he finds a lane to the net. He has a quality wrist shot that he tends to utilize after working his way to an opening in the slot.
Morozov has shown himself to be an efficient player in the defensive zone, even though he says he models his game after Washington’s Evgeny Kuznetsov. He has shown that he is capable on both the powerplay and penalty kill. He is also very strong in the face-off circle.
His biggest challenge up to this point appears to be consistency. He has yet to show that he can put up big point totals in back-to-back seasons. While consistency is a major concern, he has shown that when given the time he needs to adjust, he is capable of performing. Prior to his 2020-2021 season, he had not yet played a full season with the same team at a professional level.
An Uncertain Future
There are a lot of questions surrounding Ivan Morozov right now. It appears that SKA St. Petersburg’s coaching staff benched him for the 2020-2021 KHL season opener. This comes as a bit of a surprise seeing as he had just come off of a very successful KHL campaign last season.
It is speculated that his benching was a result of his apparent refusal to extend his contract with SKA St. Petersburg.
Morozov not wanting to re-sign in the KHL should not come as a surprise to SKA’s management. During his post-draft interview in 2018, someone asked Morozov when he thought he would start playing in North America. In his response Morozov basically said that after his contract in the KHL had ended he would like to come to play in America.
With him apparently getting frozen out of SKA St. Petersburg, Morozov could be in North America as soon as the end of this season.
Featured image courtesy of the NHL
“From Our Haus to Yours“