Last season was the start of something new between the Maple Leafs and Semyon Der-Arguchintsev.
Although the 21-year-old had a short stint with the pros during his KHL loan spell, it would be his true taste of North American professional hockey. And it was a fascinating year, to say the least.
Der-Arguchintsev didn’t feel like he’d ridden a lot this season, but he had. It was his first full season in the AHL — in a starring role though. It was time for SDA to shine and show what it could have for the organization in the future.
C | Toronto (AHL) | Age: 21 | 5 feet 10 | 165 pounds | Shots: R
Acquired: 2018 Draft, 76th overall | Ranking 2021: #16
Going into the 2021-22 season, the 21-year-old needed to add a few things to his toolbox to fit in well with the Toronto Marlies – gaining more weight and muscle was the most important thing. Coming out of the Traverse City Prospects Tournament, it was clear that if Der-Arguchintsev was to succeed, he had to grow.
During the season, it happened. In his first 17 games, the 21-year-old has collected 13 points – four being goals and the rest as assists. It was the fiery start Der-Arguchintsev needed, but unfortunately after that huge stint at the start of the season, he came to an abrupt halt.
In his next 14 games, Der-Arguchintsev had just four points and seemed like a ghost in Marlies games. It was an interesting time for the 21-year-old – he wasn’t used to fighting at this level – but he fought.
With 20 games remaining in his season, Der-Arguchintsev found himself scoring 15 points in that span. The 21-year-old scored more goals in his first professional season (13) than he ever scored in the OHL with the Peterborough Petes. And only did it in 51 games.
He had a massive season.
“[Der-Arguchintsev] was perhaps one of the most improved players of the year. Marlies head coach Greg Moore said after Toronto’s season ended. “At the start of the season, I think he was getting used to the consistency, the pace of play and the strength of the league. He began to work a lot in the weight room, in training and the constancy with which he worked to improve physically and develop stronger habits, which began to appear during the second half of the year. of the year. Much more competitive in the game, really strong on the pucks.
“And obviously when he passes the puck in the middle of the ice, he’s pretty special in what he can create and what he can do, how he can think about his teammates, how he can make his teammates looked really good getting them the puck in really tight areas. It’s a shame he had a few injuries there that took him out as he was gaining that momentum. But he did Lots of good work this year and he’s really excited about the progress he’s made and where it can lead next season.
The 21-year-old thrives when he has the puck on his stick. Whether in the offensive or defensive zone, there are plays he makes that just make you “Wow.” He can pass the puck or he can use his deft hands to get around his opponent quite easily.
While most of Der-Arguchintsev’s points actually come from setting someone else up, there were points where he wasn’t afraid to show his confidence either.
—Nick Barden (@nickbarden) March 6, 2022
Throughout the year, he reiterated that his goal was to be a two-dimensional player, much like what Mitch Marner is at the NHL level. When the opposing team knows you can just pass the puck, it’s a lot easier for them. Thus, Der-Arguchintsev made an effort to improve his shot down the straight.
And it worked.
—Nick Barden (@nickbarden) March 19, 2022
The 21-year-old has found himself open to more shooting attempts as the season progressed – being more aware of what he has in his toolbox. Similar to what I said earlier, he got stronger in the gym. When this went into effect, his shooting also became much more difficult.
When you put it all together, Der-Arguchintsev looks like he could be a player with a lot of upside in a few years. He’s incredibly soft on his feet and you’ll need him for a pro-level center. Add to that an improving shot, a stronger/heavier player, his deft hands and passing abilities – you have a scary player on your hands.
It cannot be understated, however, that he has improved a lot throughout the season while struggling with injuries. The 21-year-old made a conscious effort to improve, and that’s exactly what he did.
(He also did that too.)
SDA, why do you have to do a guy like that? pic.twitter.com/ZliYj5eLEf
—Nick Barden (@nickbarden) April 10, 2022
One aspect of his game that I would say needs improvement is his decision making. There doesn’t seem to be a problem in the attacking zone, but at times when Der-Arguchintsev tried to get out of his own zone, he struggled. It could have been a giveaway or just poor puck management, but it’s something he needs to be better at.
Predicting a player like this is incredibly difficult for me. We’ve only seen 57 games of him at the AHL level — still technically not a full season. However, the 21-year-old has played very well. Similar to Mikhail Abramov, this next year is going to be huge for him.
I believe that if all goes well for Der-Arguchintsev, he could be one of the last six centers at the NHL level. Although even that can push him to some extent. Again, it’s so hard to judge because of how little he’s played in professional hockey.
But if history tells us anything, it’s that a player who was drafted four years ago needs to start putting everything together. I think Der-Arguchintsev is doing just that and has more to show for next year.
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