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.
Vegas’ roster has, at least on paper, one of the top forward groups in the Western Conference. The top two lines as projected are both excellent, the third line can likely hang with any other third line in the league, and the fourth line projects to combine a bit of skill with aggression and intensity. The one thing this team appears to be missing are young, skilled wingers. Apart from Alex Tuch, each projected starting winger for this team will be at least 27 on opening night (save for perhaps a surprise appearance from Valentin Zykov).
Pavel Dorofeyev, although he will almost assuredly not make the big league lineup this year, does fill that void. A spry, agile winger, the 18-year-old represents one of just two wingers ever drafted above pick No. 135 for Vegas, and although some natural centers may shift to wing, the young Russian does represent something that Vegas has been lacking.
No. 13: Pavel Dorofeyev
Age: 18 (October 26, 2000)
Size: 6-foot, 163 pounds
Dorofeyev took a massive step forward last year, more than doubling his points per game in the MHL, Russia’s junior circuit (0.81 in 2017-18 to 1.63 in ‘18-19). In fact, his performance was strong enough that he was fast-tracked to the KHL’s Metallurg Magnitogorsk for 23 regular season games as an 18-year-old. He may have averaged under eight minutes per game, but Metallurg fielded a very competitive squad that finished 6th of 25 in points this past season and still found a place for him.
One way we can get a feel for what Dorofeyev might bring to the table is to use an NHL equivalency (NHLe) calculator. Emmanuel Perry’s information is most recent, so we will use his inputs to look at how Dorofeyev stacks up to all other Vegas forwards drafted the past three years:
Draft Year NHLe Point Performances, Vegas forwards (per 82 games)
Well, now! That was unexpected. Dorofeyev’s 31 points in 19 MHL games last season puts him ahead of every forward the Knights have drafted, including Cody Glass and Nick Suzuki, two high-volume scorers in major junior. While it is impossible to say whether or not Dorofeyev could have sustained that rate across a larger sample size, even a significant regression would put him as one of the best young offensive threats in the Vegas system, alongside Glass and Peyton Krebs.
So why did he fall to the third round? It’s hard to say fully. He’s a bit slight, but most 18-year-olds tend to be. Reports have said he is not particularly physical, but again, a size issue that could likely be remedied in some time. One might think his defense is lacking, but for a young scoring winger, it is certainly nothing to write home about. The Athletic’s Corey Pronman wrote he was more “brain and shot” than “game-breaking skill.”
Regardless of where Vegas nabbed him, Dorofeyev made his presence known shortly thereafter in development camp, where The Athletic’s Jesse Granger noted that the young Russian made the biggest impression.
But that’s enough talk, let’s take a look at the young fella:
Yeah, yeah, it’s a long clip. Jump to 1:12 to see Dorofeyev surgically picking a corner and 4:18 for a nice display of stick-handling and a deft little pass around a defender. The whole video is worth watching, but it is also good to keep in mind that he is playing against fellow young players, and in many situations, he would easily have been jostled off the puck.
Still, Dorofeyev could very well be one of the most dynamic talents in the Vegas pipeline. The Athletic’s Corey Pronman wrote that Dorofeyev looked great at the recent U-20 4 Nations Cup, especially when skating on a line with fellow Vegas prospect, center Ivan Morozov (our reaction).
As for this season and the near future, Dorofeyev will likely need to bulk up. After a taste of KHL action last season, the Nizhny Tagil native will likely spend the full season with Metallurg and, to survive, he may need to pack a couple extra pounds on his 163-pound frame.
Dorofeyev could be exactly what Vegas needs at the precise moment they need him, as their cast of wingers will almost all be on the unfriendly side of 30 — or simply free agents — when the young winger will likely be NHL-ready, which at this point appears to be either the 2021-22 or ‘22-23 season.
As always, all we can do is wait and see.
Previously in Vegas Golden Knights Preseason 2019 Top 25 Under 25:
- Introduction and honorable mentions
- No. 25, Peter Diliberatore
- No. 24, Xavier Bouchard
- No. 23, Brandon Kruse
- No. 22, Keegan Kolesar
- No. 21, Jack Dugan
- No. 20, Isaiah Saville
- No. 19, Layton Ahac
- No. 18, Jake Leschyshyn
- No. 17, Nicolas Roy
- No. 16, Valentin Zykov
- No. 15, Ivan Morozov
- No. 14, Kaedan Korczak