2023 NHL Entry Draft, Coyotes Prospects, Dmitri Simashev

Sky Is the Limit for Coyotes Dmitri Simashev

The Arizona Coyotes came into the 2023 NHL Draft with an opportunity to make a big splash. They had the sixth and 12th overall picks, having a chance to bolster their ever-growing prospect pool. While there was a lot of speculation and rumors about them taking several different players, they took a guy who was likely not on many people’s radar. That’s none other than Kostroma, Russia native Dmitri Simashev. 

Related: Analyzing the Coyotes’ 2 First-Round Draft Selections

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After trading away Jakob Chychrun at the deadline, they didn’t have an elite defenseman they could lean on. While they do have the likes of J.J. Moser, Jusso Valimaki, and recently acquired Sean Durzi, they don’t have a clear top-pairing defenseman. Simashev has a chance to change that with his towering height at 6-foot-4 and his impressive defensive play. The Coyotes are taking a substantial risk with the defenseman; however, if he hits his ceiling, the sky is the limit.

What Does Simashev Bring to the Table?

The 18-year-old brings a lot of attractive skills to the table for the Coyotes. As mentioned, his height likely stood out the most to general manager Bill Armstrong as he’s made it clear he wants to build this team with some bigger players. However, diving deeper, it can be noted that Simashev’s skating abilities could’ve also helped him be selected sixth overall. He is arguably the smoothest skater among defensemen in this class, and it showed this past season.

Dmitri Simashev Arizona Coyotes
Dmitri Simashev, Arizona Coyotes (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Along with his skating, he has been touted for his premier defensive play. For being at such a young age, he defends extremely well, shutting down plays with his long reach and strong frame. As he gets older, he’ll eventually mature into his 6-foot-4 frame, making him that much more of a threat. Despite all the pros, the stat sheet isn’t doing him any favors, as Simashev had zero points in 18 games in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). He also spent some time in the MHL  (Russia’s top junior league) where he notched just 12 points in 29 games. “In the KHL, it’s a more defensive, physical game,” Simashev said. “I am a young player and it was my first season on the KHL team. In the MHL, I’m more free, I’m offensive.”

“Simashev is a physically dominant defenseman,” Armstrong said. “We call him the unicorn of the draft. They’re hard to find, guys that can move and skate like that for a big man. He gets up in the neutral zone and he hunts you down. His feet for a big man, I can honestly say this, I don’t know that I’ve seen a skater of his size in the last 20 some odd years. He can close on guys quick.”

Simashev Can Bring Stability At Defense For Coyotes

The Coyotes have had some great defensemen over the years, including guys like Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Tempo Numminen, and many more. However, they’ve lacked a true elite defenseman that can shut down the opposing team’s top players. Simashev can change that for the Coyotes, as his upside is through the roof. But what does his ceiling look like?

When Director of Amateur Scouting Darryl Plandowski was asked about Simashev’s ceiling, he said the following, “We don’t know, he’s so young. All we did was watch the skating, we were able to watch him live, handle the puck and he’s physical so you kind of dream in color of just what can he be? What is the ceiling? That’s what excited us.” Clearly, the Coyotes got their guy in Simashev, and if he develops properly, he could establish himself on the blue line for years to come.

Simashev Not Done Developing

It’s fair to say that any 18-year-old prospect isn’t done developing, even NHL players don’t stop developing. So it’s pretty easy to note that Simashev isn’t done growing. He currently plays in the KHL, and his contract will have him there for the next two seasons, which will be huge for his development. He’s going to continue playing against much older and more experienced players, giving him more of a challenge.

One aspect of his game that Simashev will look to improve upon is his offensive production and shooting. Many scouts still think there is something there offensively, which there likely is. His zero points in 18 games in the KHL were underwhelming, to say the least, but with more experience playing against older players, he could develop into a great two-way defenseman. He will also look to be a full-time KHLer next year, taking that next step forward.

Future Is Bright With Simashev

With the number of draft picks Armstrong and the Coyotes have accumulated, taking the risk with Simashev appears to be the correct decision. With the team lacking a top-pairing defenseman that can shut down the other team’s top players, Simashev can be the guy they look to in all situations. While they won’t be getting him for the next two years, it’s safe to say that when they do, he’ll be more than ready for the NHL.

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