By Mark Lester (@futureofphilly)
Mikhail Vorobyov has flown under the radar since being drafted by the Flyers in the fourth round of the 2015 NHL draft. While his numbers are not eye-popping, the kid has talent – and quite a bit of it.
Vorobyov is a big center, standing at 6-foot-2 and weighing in at roughly 210 lbs. In 2015-16, following his draft year, Vorobyov split time between the MHL and KHL. He put up great numbers in the MHL, Russia’s junior league. In 28 KHL games that year, Vorobyov tallied just 3 points. He received limited ice time in the world’s second best league as a 19-year old, and therefore numbers do not tell the whole story.
2016-17 was a breakout season for Vorobyov. He took a big step forward by cementing his spot as a third line center for his KHL team, Salavat Ufa. He began to receive more and more ice time as the season progressed. In 44 regular season games, Vorobyov recorded 11 points.
The 2017 World Juniors was when Vorobyov began to gain attention from fans. The Ufa native was an assist machine, leading all players in the tournament with 10 assists in 7 games. Vorobyov led the Russians to a bronze medal at his final World Juniors championship.
Vorobyov boasted his outstanding vision and superb playmaking ability while playing a strong two-way game as Russia’s top centerman.
In another international competition, Vorobyov scored this goal for Russia, while adding a fantastic ‘dab’ celebration:
Vorobyov’s impressive campaign earned himself an entry-level contract from the Flyers this April.
He will be headed to Allentown next season to play for the Phantoms and will likely be given at least top-9 role on a fairly deep Lehigh Valley squad.
Vorobyov may not be best-known for his goal-scoring, but nevertheless has the potential to become a 40-point center who can play on both the powerplay and the penalty kill. He could easily push for a spot on the Flyers roster as early as 2018-19. The Russian forward could potentially slot in behind Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, and Nolan Patrick or Nico Hischier on a deep Flyers center core in a couple of years.
Vorobyov has drawn stylistic comparisons to Minnesota Wild 2015 first-round pick Joel Eriksson Ek. As for a comparison to a current NHL veteran, Artem Anisimov comes to mind as both him and Vorobyov are big, two-way centers who have offensive upside.
Ron Hextall has done a terrific job finding quality players in the later rounds of the draft (e.g. Lindblom, Laczynski), and Vorobyov is looking like he could be the next added to the list.
Photo credit: Flyers Twitter