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Alexander Nikishin



Scout: Brandon, Date: 2023-09-16

Carolina Hurricanes 2020 NHL Entry Draft 3rd Round Pick
69th Overall Selection by the Carolina Hurricanes

MAIN REPORT
Skating:
  • Nikishin is a workhorse of a skater with a powerful stride that leads to deceptive acceleration.

  • When in stride, Nikishin maintains nearly as sturdy as he is at slower speeds or a stand still.

  • There is room for improvement regarding his mobility and comfort while skating backwards though his pivot from back to forward is smooth and executed with relative ease.

  • Overall, Nikishin is surprisingly agile for a player of his stature. He possesses sound control of his edges through various turns and maneuvers as he adapts to the play in front of him and slides into textbook positional placement.

Passing/Handling:
  • Nikishin’s passes can carry a fair amount of force behind them, though he tends to default to finding the simple passes to complete.

  • He is very poised and comfortable holding onto the puck and making the right pass.

  • He is well suited at pivot on the point of the powerplay as the pass options are relatively free of congestion and coverage.

  • There is certainly room to improve his longer outlet and stretch pass game as well as passes through seams.

  • That said, Nikishin has a very poised demeanor when holding the puck and looking for a target to hit.

  • He can be incredibly evasive and fluid with subtle shifts and turns made in motion that throws attackers off their path.

  • When scoping out targets with time and space, he deploys an interesting way of shifting his weight between skates as if using his feet to fake pass attempts.

    • I am unsure if this is a conscious and effective trait or a tick of sorts that could be cleaned up through coaching.

  • On a similar note, Nikishin will often motion as though he is about to shoot and morph the movement into a pass.

Shooting:
  • Nikishin can unleash a howitzer of a one timer that almost seems to pick up force and speed the longer the puck travels.

  • His slapshot is strong but he usually is tempering the amount of force put behind it as it seems like he is using it to generate rebounds and deflection attempts rather than beat the goaltender.

  • A similar sentiment can be said about the use of his wrist and snap shot. Though they appear to be rather firm attempts, it seems as if they are released at 50-75% of the effort that could be put into them.

    • Tempering his shots mixed with spending more focus on placing the shot more selectively can serve as a vital tool in the way that Sergachev and Justin Schultz throw wristers from the blueline with a sort of changing trajectory.


IQ (Vision, off/def anticipation, panic meter):
  • Nikishin is an intelligent stalwart that is often in the perfect place at the perfect time.

  • His poise and unwavering sense of calm is evident during the vast majority of his shifts.

  • He uses his sense and vision of developing plays to quietly and effortlessly thwart opposition momentum.

Forechecking:
  • In a rare occurrence, Nikishin may activate to be one of the first on forecheck but this is usually tied to generating a turnover and then chasing down a loose and rolling puck.

Defense (Rush and in-zone):
  • Often in motion, Nikishin swoops into the right position with impeccable timing.

  • This allows him to effortlessly intercept a pass with a conveniently placed stick or to remind the puck carrier that he is in fact made of bricks and will explode a man in open ice.

  • Nikishin controls the gap between he and the puck carrier very well and will toggle between using his stick or body to interrupt the play.

  • When engaged in positional battles in front of the net, Nikishin is sure to tie up his man but stays vigilant to the rest of the play.

  • Nikishin uses this nifty move along the boards during ongoing puck battles. When he senses the puck may be knocked free and is heading in his direction, he will throw a shoulder check into the boards to pinch off the opponent from the puck instead of pinning the player once they have the puck.

  • Nikishin does well to cover the rush so long as there is support from teammates. If facing a one-on-one or odd-man situation, it seems as though he is weighing too many options and ends up freezing if only for a moment.

Best Asset:
  • Powerful stride mixed with an extremely solid and punishing physical foundation.

Biggest Concern:
  • Higher end passing and playmaking complexity.

Top Tier/Role Potential:
  • Top-4, two-way defender in the 35-45 point range with a role on special teams. Above mid-range shot totals and plenty of hits.

50th percentile Tier/Role:
  • Bottom-4, shutdown D assignment with the ability to chew up minutes.

Stylistic Comparable:
  • Hybrid between Johnny Boychuck and Alex Pietrangelo.

GAME REPORTS

Game Date: 2022-10-15

Teams and Score: SKA St.Petersburg [5] vs. Vityaz Moscow Region [0]

Notable Stats: 0 G, 3 A, 3 SOG, 1 HIT, 1 BLK, 14:44 TOI


Skating:
  • Powerful stride that is very sturdy and carries a lot of inertia with it.

  • Not the most agile or graceful with subtle edgework at lower speeds.

  • Workhorse, blue collar skater.

Passing/Handling:
  • Passes with force and intent.

  • Makes use of his frame and base of support to take space and a couple of strides before passing the puck.

  • Poised puck control.

  • Casually spun away from attackers twice in the n-zone before moving the puck.

  • Protects the puck well with his large frame.

Shooting:
  • Makes firm and solid shot attempts though they don’t seem to be made to try and score.

IQ:
  • Very poised and unphased.

  • Internal drive and vision guides him under pressure.

  • Stable and very calm presence.

  • Poised puck control and movement on the PP.

  • Ends up where he needs to be a step before is expected.

Forechecking:
  • Pinched behind the net on the PP to make body contact as the puck rolled behind the net in hopes to prevent a clearing attempt.

Defense:
  • Picks up an open man by first engaging with their stick.

  • Plays along the boards instead of just in front of the net.

  • Will pinch along boards in D-zone to prevent the puck from being advanced deeper into the zone.

  • Very strong and active stickwork with decent reach.

Standout skill today:
  • Unwavering presence and poise

What was missing today?:
  • Could put more behind shots.

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Game Date: 2023-01-08

Teams and ScoreL SKA St.Petersburg [6] vs. HK Sochi [3]

Notable Stats: 0 G, 3 A, 4 SOG, 0 HIT, 2 BLK, 21:38 TOI


Skating:
  • Moves with a certain connectivity to the ice.

  • Slow twitch, high power and stability.

  • Smooth pivots when tracking puck carrier in close.

Passing/Handling:
  • Long passes could use more accuracy.

  • Makes quick, lateral passes.

  • His patience lulls opponents into a false position before he takes it away to move the puck.

  • Heads up and tall posture when carrying the puck as he is looking for a target or a seam.

  • Blocked a shot with his stick and immediately had his pocket picked by Mitchkov before control could be established. Lead to a Goal against.

Shooting:
  • Solid shots seem to be made to develop rebounds instead of trying to get it by the goaltender.

IQ:
  • May be overly poised at times where there is a lack of tempo or hustle.

  • Despite cadence, he is able to get into and remain in proper positions on both ends of the ice.

Forechecking:
  • Will keep momentum generated through N-zone and drive along boards in O-zone to keep the play deep in the zone.

Defense:
  • After missing an attempt to hold the zone, he was able to back check and strip the puck at the blueline.

  • Is sure to pick up a spare man in the D-zone.

  • Balanced gap control, doesn’t over commit.

  • Froze between the puck carrier and the open man and ended up getting burned when the puck ended up getting passed to the open man for a goal against.

Standout skill today:
  • Puck movement poise

What was missing today?:
  • More tempo, faster feet, more intensity.


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Game Date: 2023-04-02

Teams and Score: SKA St.Petersburg [2] vs. CSKA Moskva [3]

Notable Stats: 1 G, 0 A, 6 SOG, 4 HIT, 2 BLK, 39:10 TOI


Skating:
  • Showed another gear in his sprint and hustle in pursuit of a loose puck.

  • Very powerful leg drive.

Passing/Handling:
  • Makes confident drop passes when teammates are in motion and flowing through various lanes.

  • Uses a stutter step/weight shift before passing the puck at times.

  • Displays subtle shiftiness when gaining control of the puck and facing attackers.

  • Pulls the puck to one side paired with a stride forward or partial spin.

Shooting:
  • One-timer howitzer at even strength from the point to take 2-1 lead.

  • Low danger shots thrown at the net had a bit more bite to them in this viewing.

IQ:
  • Elevated overall intensity to match the stakes of the game.

  • Mobile and adaptive coverage in the D-zone.

  • Uses body along the boards to pinch off an opponent from an incoming puck rather than directly play the opponent.

Forechecking:
  • Used momentum from zone exits to activate on the rush even as “F2”.

Defense:
  • Poised stick in a lane picked off a pass while defending a zone entry.

  • Destroyed the puck carrier as shot was taken to finish check in open ice.

  • Barely missed landing a torpedo of a hit along the boards.

  • Laid out an attacker who was attempting to hit him.

Standout skill today:
  • Aggressive stalwart poise.

What was missing today?:
  • Play reading and commitment to coverage during chaos.

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