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2024 NHL SCOUTING REPORT (VIDEO + GRADES): Ivan Demidov, RW, SKA-1946 St. Petersburg (MHL)

Ivan Demidov
RW - #91 SKA-1946 St. Petersburg (MHL)
6’0, 192 lbs, Shoots: L
DOB: 10.12.2005 - Tampere, Finland

Normally, it would be completely unheard of for a prospect who played almost exclusively at the Russian junior level, and who was never tested against best-on-best competition, to be considered a consensus Top 5 pick for an NHL entry draft. The fact that Demidov has earned that consideration this year is a testament to just how special of a talent he is.

It was a little difficult to scout Demidov this season, though that was through no fault of his own. As a member of the powerhouse SKA Saint Petersburg organization, he wasn't given a proper opportunity to play at higher levels with their rosters in the KHL or VHL, even though he had more than deserved it, and Russia continues to be frozen out of international hockey due to the country's ongoing invasion of Ukraine. As such, scouts were mostly limited to watching him on video all season long as he utterly feasted on his MHL opponents. He even managed to save his best hockey for last, leading the charge for his club on their way to winning the league championship. Did Demidov know that the only way to bolster his draft stock was to prove undeniably over and over and over again that he was far too good to be playing at that level, putting up one of the best seasons ever recorded in the history of that league? If so, mission accomplished.

Demidov is an electrifying presence on the ice because he drives play with an abundance of skill, smarts, confidence and determination. He's hard to defend because he can leave an impact in a multitude of different ways, and even when it looks like he's completely covered or neutralized he can pull another trick out from under his sleeve and keep the play alive in a way that nobody else saw coming. NHLers Nikita Kucherov and Kirill Kaprizov have this aura to them that often causes opposing defenders to freeze and second guess their next move because the defenders know that even the smallest of mistakes can become catastrophic, and you can see that Demidov has something like that as well.

While there is unavoidably some risk attached to Demidov, mainly due to the limitations of his resume over the past few seasons, this is a prospect who could realistically become a 100-point player in the NHL one day as his ceiling, and that kind of upside will be very hard for teams to pass up on.


While some of Demidov's traits are among the best in this entire draft class, his skating style could be ranked instead as one of the most awkward. It's a little difficult to analyze because there are some times when it looks like he's fighting with it, yet at other times he'll expertly weave through traffic or erupt into space with powerful bursts of acceleration. At the MHL level, his skating is certainly more of a strength than a weakness, but there are questions about whether that will still be the case when he eventually reaches the NHL.

Demidov loves to use the 10-2 or “mohawk” skating style, and even though it’s unconventional, there are times when it really works to his advantage. Watch how sharply he cuts to the inside here. His decision completely throws the opposing team’s defensive structure into disarray, which leads to breakdowns and eventually results in Demidov finishing the play with a goal.

You see this type of play from Demidov a lot, where he widens his stance and keeps it wide even when he’s changing angles, which helps him stay upright so that he can better focus on what he’s doing with his hands. In other words, he doesn’t want his work with his hands to be disrupted by something that affects his feet, because it’s harder to handle the puck while off-balance. This particular play is illuminating because three different penalty killers recognize how severe of a threat Demidov is when he cuts inside, but they make the mistake of leaving a second attacker wide open.

It’s not often that you see Demidov really try to explode up the ice in a straight line, but he can do it well when the opportunity presents itself. In this clip he builds up speed exiting his defensive zone and attacks the offensive blueline with so much speed that it pushes back the opposing defenders, who both keep too loose of a gap and allow far too much time and space for the shot.

Being able to get pucks off the wall is an important yet underappreciated skill. There are different ways to do it, and one of the techniques that Demidov displays is the agility of his footwork. This is a sublime change of direction, which creates a scoring chance out of seemingly nothing.

Grade: 60


Demidov's hands and playmaking get the most attention, and for good reason, but he's pretty lethal as a shooter as well. His wrist shots are hard and accurate, he loves to uncork his one-timer and can do it from difficult angles, and he can tidily beat goalies in tight equally well going forehand or backhand. When he has the puck on his stick in the offensive zone he generally leans toward passes more than shots, but he recognizes when a shot attempt is his best option and doesn't overthink it.

This is an excellent example of just how good his one-timer can be. The pass doesn’t quite reach him in his wheelhouse, but he drags his leg and drops his knee all the way to the ice to receive the puck and still manages to get the shot off his stick in one fluid motion.

Here’s another great look at the one-timer. That pass actually comes to him behind his body, but he somehow, amazingly, still catches it at the start of a shooting motion and tucks the puck under the bar.

This pass comes to him in a perfect position, and with that luxury, he is able to rifle the puck into the tiniest of spaces above the goalie’s shoulder and beside his head.

Demidov is no slouch with his wrist shot, either, packing a healthy amount of both power and accuracy. This is a truly ridiculous goal from him, timing his shot perfectly to fire a laser beam directly through the penalty killer’s legs and perfectly into the top corner.

Grade: 60


This is the real bread and butter of Demidov's game, and it's such a strength for him that it's the primary reason why he's a consensus Top 10 pick for the 2024 draft. There's a major dynamism to what he can do with the puck, which makes him dangerous with almost all of his touches. Not only is he extremely deft and controlled with his puck management and movement, but he is also wildly creative. By combining both he is able to pull off plays that most other forwards never even consider as options.

Demidov’s mitts are simply magical, and he knows how to use them to make defenders look foolish. Not only is this one of the best highlights of his season, but it is also one of the best highlights from any prospect in this entire draft. He dangles both a defender and then the goalie in quick succession before wrapping the puck into the yawning cage.

Just how confident is Demidov with his puck skills? Exceptionally confident. Watch how he enters the zone with control in this clip, intentionally drawing two defenders in close to him, which also opens up a passing lane to a breaking teammate.

Part of what makes Demidov so dangerous offensively is that he can deal damage from both the inside and from the outside. This clip presents a good look at the latter ability. He uses his hands to stop up and buy himself some time and space immediately after the zone entry, and then when the time is right he whips a tape-to-tape pass to a teammate cutting to the backdoor.

Much like how Demidov can shoot from difficult angles, he can also make passes in the same way. The only way that he can get this pass beyond the sliding defender and over to his teammate is by swinging the puck out wide to the left of his body, yet he still manages to connect it easily and effortlessly.

Grade: 60


It's not easy to be a dominant player without elite skating or advantageous size, but Demidov managed to become an unstoppable force in the MHL through his smarts and aforementioned puck skills. His vision and situational awareness are superb, and he processes the play with expert precision and lightning quickness. He also doesn't get nearly enough credit for just how well he thinks the game in all three zones, with or without the puck.

This play happens quickly, but that’s just how Demidov liked it. He correctly recognizes that the defender is in trouble due to forecheck pressure, he perfectly times his pounce to steal the puck and then gets the pass over to his teammate before anyone in red can properly react and prevent the heartbreaking, game-winning goal that is about to happen.

Is there some luck involved in this assist? It’s pretty fair to say that there is. There were opportunities for the pass to get picked off or deflected. That being said, Demidov processes the play so quickly that he regularly thinks up and attempts plays like this that catch the other team off guard, and it’s always harder to defend against something that isn’t anticipated.

This clip is similar to the last one, but there’s no luck or guesswork about it. Demidov is completely aware that his teammate is moving into scoring position and that there’s going to be an open lane to him so long as he sends the backhand pass soon enough, which he times exquisitely.

Here is a look at Demidov’s aforementioned off-puck play. He is alert the whole shift, with plenty of shoulder checks to clock the positioning of the players on the ice. He does commit a pretty sloppy turnover with an errant pass, but he immediately retreats into a defensive position and neutralizes the ensuing rush with poise and focus.

Grade: 55


This is another area of Demidov's game that is more impressive than casual fans realize. He can be a real bull when bearing down on the puck, with a strong lower body and a lot of tenacity for fighting through checks. While he doesn't always look to play physically, he knows when he needs to elevate this part of his game and delivers accordingly, which was on full display in this year's MHL playoffs. He deserves credit for his compete level, as there's a fire to how he plays and he always wants to stomp his foot on the gas pedal during the offensive attack.

Here is a great example of Demidov using his strength to his advantage. He engages his check hard along the wall and outmuscles him to win the 50-50 puck battle, which helps his team maintain possession.

This clip is from the MHL final between SKA and Loko, and there are others like it that also highlight how Demidov elevated his physical play in that series. That kind of situational adaptation is important because the NHL playoffs always get harder and heavier the further they go along.

Nothing particularly flashy here, with Demidov throwing a bit of a reversal hit to help him protect the puck against an encroaching defender. However, these types of contact plays are very important in the NHL and make more of a difference than many fans realize.

Where and when a player applies himself physically is important. This isn’t Demidov making a hit just for the sake of making a hit, it’s him making a timely decision to try to win possession on the forecheck.

Grade: 50

OFP: 57.5

A note on the 20-80 scale used above. We look at five attributes (skating, shooting, puck skills, hockey IQ and physicality) for skaters and six for goalies (athleticism/quickness, compete/temperament, vision/play reading, technique/style, rebound control and puck handling). Each individual attribute is graded along the 20-80 scales, which includes half-grades. The idea is that a projection of 50 in a given attribute meant that our observer believed that the player could get to roughly NHL average at that attribute at maturity.