Bakanov is a sniper
2020 and beyond
War. War with the OHL never changes. Michigan has returned to their Berenson heyday ways, picking off super high-end OHL prospects and watching some of them defect. London already signed Antonio Stranges, one of the four(!) five-star types who'd announced commitments to Michigan by the time the OHL draft rolled around. That particularly sucks because he had supposedly already signed with the NTDP, and none of the other three guys are Americans who can shelter under USA Hockey's wing until it's time to matriculate.
The big-timers, in order of likelihood to actually arrive:
Andrei Bakanov. Bakanov moved from Moscow to play AAA in the States a couple years ago and immediately drew notice thanks to his 6'2" frame and skill to pair with it. He didn't go in the OHL draft because he wasn't eligible; he probably wasn't eligible because he didn't bother applying to overturn whatever bylaw kept him out. Another Russian immigrant was technically ineligible but the OHL swiftly repaired that once he indicated he was interested in the league.
Bakanov subsequently signed a USHL tender with Cedar Rapids and will likely play there for two years before matriculating. He is a big, scoring wing.
Andrei Bakanov (02) commits to Michigan. Moskva, RUS native w/ the Oakland Jr Grizzlies 16U. Strong, powerful skill/power FWD, NHL caliber shot already, great skill set. #WhosNext
— Matt Grainda (@graindaiv) March 31, 2018
His 13-10-23 line in 18 games led the HPHL, a six-team league of major AAA teams in the Midwest, in PPG. They play relatively few games because at that age group there's a ton of going around to various showcase events; the league fills downtime between them. His full season stats are eyepopping:
Bakanov, a six-foot-two, 192-pound forward, spent the 2017-18 season with the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies, totaling an impressive 112 points (57G, 55A) in 77 total games between the program's HPHL schedule and U16 AAA schedule.
You don’t have to watch too long before you see his best trait, a deadly accurate, hard shot that probably gives goalies at this level nightmares. Bakanov has the Russian patience for sure, taking his time to read plays at times and then striking exactly when you least expect it, often drawing peer-to-peer comparisons to famous NHL player Evgeni Malkin. Footwork is a little heavy for Bakanov, but his smooth puck handing and decent smarts help mitigate this issue. … His goal scoring capabilities, his patience with the puck, and his NHL sized frame will be highly coveted.”
Some guy on HF Boards who seems to know what he's talking about:
…really made strides since last year when I saw him. Big kid that gets through the neutral zone with a lot of speed and he has some hands to match. He had a really nice breakaway goal against York Simcoe. Whoever gets him has a player on their hands.
Tenders skip the draft and sign with a USHL program; in exchange the USHL team forfeits their first rounder and commits to playing the tendered player for a majority of the season. The USHL is a brutal league for 16 year olds; most tenders struggle to put up points. If Bakanov can that'll be a great sign for his future.
[After THE JUMP: Swankler.]