Describing a prospect as “raw” is a really great way of having me tune you out. I really, really despise the term. It’s often used as a blanket justification for poor performance, with no evidence that they’re early in their growth curve, or that they can get any better.
Fedor Gordeev might be an exception to this, though. The current incarnation of his career is far from ripe, and it makes you wonder how far he can go, really.
|Age||18 (January 27, 1999)||Birthplace||Omsk, Russia|
|Pos||Defence (LH)||Drafted||2017 (Rd 5, Pick 141)|
|Vitals||6’6, 212lbs||Acquired||Via Draft|
While he was born in Russia, Gordeev’s family moved to the west end of Toronto when he was eight years old, with the youngster considering the city his hometown. As he mentioned to the Toronto Sun in July, this made him an immediate asset to the team; come development camp, he effectively acted as a bridge between other Russian prospects and the club as they got accustomed to each other.
Just as interesting, though, is his on-ice come up. While Toronto will be looking for him to grow into a National Hockey League defenceman, Gordeev played forward in his youth, started mixing in games on defence in his past few years, and only fully converted to playing on the point after being traded to Flint this season. With that in mind, it’s safe to say that there’s a lot of work left to be done with him, as he builds a more permanent familiarity with his position. That he’s at that stage while still being a very capable major-junior player is encouraging, especially if he makes up some ground this season.
|16||2014-15||Toronto Red Wings||GTMMHL||56||9||16||25||–|
Now, there isn’t really much here that jumps off the screen and gets you excited for Gordeev to be a slam-dunk, point generating defenceman, though it is encouraging to see that his Junior A numbers, position split or not, were rather respectable for a 16-year-old. It is worth noting that he didn’t play a ton of powerplay time with the Firebirds last year, picking up just one of his points at 5v4, so if he gets more opportunity there, that will afford him his biggest chance at an offensive uptick. So far this year, Flint has opted to use him on one of their units, and through two games, he’s already picked up his first powerplay tally of the season.
Last year, Gordeev spent most of his time playing with OHL veteran Mathieu Henderson on the team’s second pair. He played with and against relatively balanced teammates and competition, was slightly below average on the team in goal differential, and lagged a bit behind in offensive production and shot generation. When you take his conversion and the fact that this was his first full OHL season into consideration, it’s fair to consider this a good, though not mindblowing effort on the whole.
|pGPSn||pGPSs||Exp. Success %||Exp. P/82||Exp. Value|
|222 (9/31)||32 (8/31)||14.4% (21/31)||17.3 (29/31)||2.5 (24/31)|
The above numbers are products of the Prospect Graduation Probabilities System (pGPS), created by Canucks Army to project a prospect’s odds of becoming an NHL regular. For a run-down on what each of these stats mean, head back to the introduction.
The list of names here isn’t exactly the most encouraging, looking a lot like some of the other defensive defenceman comparables in this series. Getting a taller Jake Muzzin would be sweet, and pulling a Marc Methot / Marc Staal type out of the fifth round would be stellar, but history seems to imply that similar players with Gordeev’s results at this stage in his career aren’t incredibly likely to become regular NHLers, and they aren’t likely to score a ton once they get there. As such, he falls near the bottom of the projection model list.
Assuming there’s more left in his game that will be found as he gets used to a higher level of hockey and a permanent position, though, there’s a lot of fundamentals to like in Gordeev’s game. The first bit is obvious; he’s a giant at 6’6, growing nearly two inches from the start of his last season alone. Gordeev has been praised for being able to use that body of his and his wingspan to retrieve and protect the puck along the corners, and his time spent as a forward has given him some ability to come out of a breakout with control of the puck. Decision making and open ice play will be points of improvement for him moving forward, as well as adjusting to having to shoot from a further distance away from the net.
The Upcoming Year
Gordeev seems destined to play out the full year in Flint, and with their three top-scoring defencemen (Henderson, Jalen Smereck, and Alexander Peters) all having graduated onto either the pros or university, he should see a spike in minutes, including on special teams. This should mean that he’ll have plenty of opportunities to grow his game and practice his new tricks in important game situations; likely creating some peaks and valleys along the way, but ones that will help him in the long run. Flint also acquired Nicolas Mattinen this month, so he might get a chance to play with another Leafs prospect on occasion.
Gordeev might be one of the few players in the organization who you can play the “wait and see” card with and have it be a sensible take. He’s only been playing his current position for a few years, and only has one season of Major Junior to his credit. If we don’t see some growth in the next 24 months or so, it’ll be hard to defend his future, but as it stands, we’re in the doubt-benefit stage of rawness.
To see the other profiles in this year’s series, please reference the full list.
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