As far as prospect dissection goes, there is nothing less exciting than talking about a player from the other side of the world, playing in leagues nobody really talks about, without anything insanely noteworthy to show for it. That’s Vladislav Kara this year; Toronto’s 2017 fourth rounder joins this list with little fanfare or guarantees.

Age 19 (April 20, 1998) Birthplace Salekhard, Russia
Pos Forward (LH) Drafted 2017 (Rd 4, Pick 124)
Vitals 6’1, 187lbs Acquired Via Draft

Rather than having me explain to you who Kara is, I’d highly recommend you read this piece from Alessandro Seren Rosso over at Maple Leafs Hot Stove. He interviewed Kara in July and touched on his development, which involved growing up in a non-hockey small town, bouncing between Russia and Slovakia as a teenager, and a bunch more.

 AGE  SEASON TEAM LEAGUE GP G A TP PIM NHLe +/-
16  2014-15  Draguny Mozhaysk  MHL B 40 21 27 48 109 -14
16  HK Trnava U18  Slovakia U18 2 9 9 16 25 24 22
17  2015-16  Irbis Kazan  MHL 41 4 9 13 22 8.1 7
18  2016-17  Bars Kazan  VHL 34 3 5 8 4 7.3 -7
18  Irbis Kazan  MHL 31 11 9 20 10 16.4 5
19  2017-18  Bars Kazan  VHL 2 0 0 0 0 0 -2

Kara finished 9th in scoring for Irbis Kazan last year before starting his adult journey int he VHL; impressive, given that he played half the games of most of his peers, and only projected 2018 1st round pick Alexander Khovanov was younger of the group above. Admittedly, there wasn’t much to brag about once he joined Bars, but when your team’s scoring leader ends up with 20 points in 47 games, I’m not sure anybody is taking victory laps.

pGPSn pGPSs Exp. Success % Exp. P/82 Exp. Value
Player did not play in a league with a pGPS-compatible sample size

Kara spent most of his time in the VHL last year and, quite frankly, there isn’t a history of VHLers coming to the NHL, let alone coming here and having success. Nikita Gusev might become our first case study if the Vegas Golden Knights manage to lure him over, but I wouldn’t rest my takes on a guy who played 13 guys in a league 6 or 7 years before playing in another.

Even the MHL is difficult to get a strong handle on; Nikita Kucherov is probably the banner graduate, but it’s worth noting that he scored at nearly quintuple Kara’s pace at the same age, and triple in his Draft+1.

Perhaps my favourite thing about Kara’s anonymity right now is that the only top-notch scouting video of him on YouTube is region-blocked by the KHL, who is undergoing some weird global broadcasting rights battle at the moment. Instead, you get this Dailymotion clip of him scoring a hat trick, which is fun in its own way.

Mark Hunter described him on draft day as a two-way winger with strength and an itch to drive the net, and you kind of see that in the above; his first goal comes in the slot off a rebound, the second comes in a similar area off a one-timer after carrying the puck with force a few seconds prior, and the hat trick goal comes from awareness after a reset following a sequence along the boards.

Kara describes himself in the Seren Russo piece as a power forward.

“But it’s not just playing and hitting hard — throwing the body is just one part of the game,” said Kara. “Sometimes, however, you need to play with more technique… sometimes you really have to give out a good pass.”

The Upcoming Year

Kara will presumably be playing out this year with Bars Kazan, though given his contract status, I wouldn’t be too shocked if the team offers him a quick KHL cup of coffee to keep him interested in sticking around long-term.

After all, the 19-year-old has an expiring contract this year. Should he truly be as all-in on making it in North America as he describes himself, it’s not out of the realm of possibility to see him pivot to the AHL next year. Though, I doubt that’s his concern right now; first, he needs to prove himself to be a valuable contributor to his VHL team, both for the sake of his development and so he gets a shot at playing on Russia’s World Junior team this Winter.

Long-Term Outlook

Ultimately, I don’t know if we’ll ever see Kara come across the pond. He seems interested in the idea, but I’m not sure we see a mutual sense of commitment in the next 9 or so months. If he re-signs for multiple years, then I’d really bet against it; unless he becomes a legitimate KHL star to the point of being able to make a straight-across leap to the Leafs, he’ll probably be better off staying home.

Can he be that calibre of player? Honestly, I feel like anybody is lying to you if they suggest that they have a legitimate, somewhat certain idea. There are still a lot of unknowns here, as you’d expect from a player lower on the list.

To see the other profiles in this year’s series, please reference the full list.

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