Leading up to the Blackhawks’ 2018 development camp, The Rink will profile the Hawks’ top 10 unsigned prospects.
Next on the list at 2nd is right wing Andrei Altybarmakyan of SKA St. Petersburg.
2017–18 Team: SKA St. Petersburg (Russia)
Date of Birth: August 4, 1998
Place of Birth: St. Petersburg, Russia
Weight: 183 lbs
Acquired: 2017 NHL Entry Draft, 3rd round, 70th overall
Perhaps the best of the Blackhawks’ Russian prospects is winger Andrei Altybarmakyan. Though his name is a mouthful and he was a widely unknown prospect at the time of the 2017 draft, Altybarmakyan has shown why the Hawks felt he was worth taking a shot on.
Altybarmakyan has spent the majority of his career thus far playing in the junior and second-tier leagues in Russia, though he did get a brief stint in the KHL last season. Altybarmakyan is expected to compete for a full-time spot on SKA St. Petersburg’s KHL roster this season.
Although not setting the world on fire last season while in Russia, Altybarmakyan looked good playing for Russia in the 2018 World Junior Championships. Though recording one goal and two assists in the tournament, he was one of Russia’s more dangerous players throughout the tournament.
Altybarmakyan possesses elite offensive ability. He has excellent stick handling ability and a top-notch shot. He has good power on his highly accurate wrist shot, which he is able to get off very quickly. Altybarmakyan is also a gifted passer, as he has excellent vision and awareness on the ice.
Skating is another big strength for Altybarmakyan. He is a relentless skater who loves being in the play. Despite not being overly big, he is not afraid to use his skating to get to the front of the net. Altybarmakyan has the speed to beat defenders to the outside and the good edgework to make his way back to the middle of the ice for a scoring chance.
Altybarmkyan has good leadership ability as well, as he has been a captain or alternate captain for his team at various stages throughout his career. His persistence is a good example to his teammates.
Though not necessarily a liability, Altybarmakyan needs to improve his defensive game, as he is currently considered to be an offensive type of player. He would also benefit from adding some strength to help round out his game and withstand regular contact.
Implications for the Blackhawks
Altybarmakyan gives the Hawks high-end offensive skill in their prospect pool, something largely lacking in recent years. If he can put the pieces together once in the NHL, he could be an excellent addition to the Blackhawks with sky-high offensive upside. Who knows, maybe he could even have some magic with Patrick Kane down the road, similar to Artemi Panarin. If Altybarmakyan can be anything remotely close to Panarin, he will be a huge win for the Hawks.
While Altybarmakyan has one year remaining on his contract with SKA St. Petersburg, he will likely stay in Russia for longer than that to continue his development. He needs to continue adding strength and needs to improve his defensive game before being ready for the NHL. Altybarmakyan likely will not be ready for NHL action until at least 2021–22.
Altybarmakyan has the high-end offensive ability needed to be a top-six winger capable of putting up points. He will need to round out his game to get an opportunity to prove himself, though.
What others are saying
“He’s a real electrifying-type player. His skill set is, he’s got great speed, offensive skill, he’s a competitive guy too, he’s not afraid to throw some body checks. He plays an up-tempo style. He’s maybe a little bit off the radar for some people, but we were very impressed with him. I think he’s got a chance to be a real special player.”
— Stan Bowman/Chicago Blackhawks General Manager
“Projects as a top six, offensive forward. If he can shore things up on the defensive side, the sky’s the limit as his offensive skills are already elite for his peer group. … Tenacious around the puck, Altybarmakyan will be a great addition to the Blackhawks as he brings the ability to make plays at full speed and looks good both shooting the puck as well as dishing it off.”
— Tony Carr/Dobber Prospects