The Chicago Blackhawks reportedly offered Damir Zhafyarov a contract, as did the Detroit Red Wings.
The Chicago Blackhawks European scouting department have their eyes on yet another promising Russian forward from the KHL. Damir Zhafyarov, 26, is currently third in scoring in the KHL, with 58 points in 54 games.
The Blackhawks and Red Wings reportedly have offered Zhafyarov a contract according to a report by Sport-Express. Here is a personal scouting report.
26 yrs old
Strong puck handling and control
Great speed and agility
Great offensive awareness and passing ability
In a recent video, he toys with his opponents with his skating and puck control, finally getting past his man to flick the puck high blocker over the goaltender.
Looks to be solid in both zones, with a +6 rating on the plus-minus while playing with a middle-of-the-pack team in Torpedo. Has 26 penalty minutes in the 54 games which could be a potential red flag, but I highly doubt it will be.
He is 5’9″, 170 lbs, but size no longer proves to be an issue in the NHL, as we can see with 5’7″ Alex Debrincat. Wears number 88 with number 88 tendencies, his toying with the defenders in that video was very Patrick Kane-like.
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Damir Zhafyarov is another small, yet highly skilled and determined player the Blackhawks could definitely use in their lineup. He is a bit older at 26 years of age, but he is someone who could make an impact right off the bat, coming from the next highest level of hockey after the NHL. He is also determined to come to North America with his contract expiring in the offseason of 2021, so an NHL contract is very likely for him.
The Hawks play a fast, relentless game, and Zhafyarov would fit very well into the ‘Hawks’ system. Jeremy Colliton and the coaching staff have proven to possess a knack in getting the most out of their young guys, as we saw with Philipp Kurashev’s highlight-reel goal vs Detroit. Zhafyarov isn’t exactly a young guy, but he is a skilled forward who is close to reaching his physical prime (approximately 30 years old, on average).
Steve Yzerman seems to like what he sees too as he also reportedly offered Zhafyarov a contract. Both the Blackhawks scouting department and Yzerman have a knack of discovering talent as Yzerman built the Tampa Bay Lightning from the top down through the draft, and the scouting department discovered multiple gems through the draft or other NHL teams cast-offs, creating a playoff contender immediately after the “rebuild” began.
The Chicago Blackhawks should sign Zhafyarov when they can and figure out where he will fit in the lineup within their top six when or if that time comes. He looks to be a very solid player whose natural playstyle meshes very well with the system the Blackhawks run. If he proves to be an impact player like Artemi Panarin was for the team, the Blackhawks would have found yet another European gem.