Knights On Ice’s 2019-20 preseason Golden Knights Top 25 Under 25 series ranks the top 25 players under the age of 25 currently in Vegas’ system. Six Knights On Ice writers created their own Top 25 Under 25 ballots. Each individual writer’s ballot was then used to generate a composite score that forms the final ballot.
Ivan Morozov was drafted by the Golden Knights No. 61 overall in 2018 after doing quite well in the KHL’s developmental league, the MHL. Since then, he’s dominated the same league and gotten an extended look in the KHL, playing in 11 regular season games and two playoff games. It’s still in question when Morozov will come to North America, and with Vegas not having the best history with bringing Russians to North America, that could throw a wrench in the plans.
No. 15: Ivan Morozov
Size: 6-foot-1, 179 pounds
Though Morozov was selected in the second round of the 2018 draft, he was Vegas’ first choice in that draft, and thus, Morozov will likely face different, higher expectations than a player like Jake Leschyshyn, taken one year earlier but just one pick after (No. 62 overall) by the Golden Knights. While Morozov went scoreless in his 13 KHL outings this season, he dominated the MHL with 27 points in 20 games and 12 points in 10 playoff games, and was also selected to the MHL All-Star game. He also did well in the KHL’s version of the AHL, the VHL, scoring 3-3—6 in 19 games.
Morozov should get an extended look with SKA St. Petersburg, the second-best team in the KHL. Though with a crowded roster, Morozov might be stuck in a bottom-six role. That could suit his playing style, however, as Morozov has a 200-foot game and can play on the penalty kill.
He also played a critical role in helping Russia win bronze at the World Junior Classic this past year. Morozov helped guide his SKA-1946 team to the semi-final of the MHL playoffs, where they lost in five games. 1946 entered the playoffs as the best regular season team, but again, like their parent team, they weren’t able to overcome the third round.
The things to worry about with Morozov currently are consistency — which he’s not gotten a ton of in his development so far, bouncing around four teams in 2018-19 — as well as scoring at the highest level. Zero points in 14 career KHL games may just be Morozov being young, or it could be an indicator of something else, and something much more concerning.
Again, bringing Morozov to North America will likely be a must for the Golden Knights at some point, and the ability for them to do so is still up in the air. He’ll likely need a year in the AHL for adjustment to the smaller ice, where the dirty areas get more clogged. He’s multiple years away from making an impact for the Golden Knights. He’ll look to play against better competition and more games in the KHL this season, and if he performs well, it ups his potential.
Morozov could be a key piece down the middle for the Golden Knights in the future, but right now, he’ll look to impress in the KHL.