Golden Knights Top 25 Under 25: Ivan Morozov has made great strides in first full season in KHL
The Russian center comes in at No. 14 on our list.
Knights On Ice’s 2020-21 preseason Golden Knights Top 25 Under 25 series ranks the top 25 players under the age of 25 currently in Vegas’ system. The KOI staff members created their own Top 25 Under 25 ballots. Each individual writer’s ballot was then used to generate a composite score that formed the final rankings.
The Vegas Golden Knights drafted Ivan Morozov in the second round of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft (No. 61 overall), though he was the club’s first selection that year. He is currently competing in the second round of the KHL playoffs with SKA St. Petersburg, which won its division this season and finished second in the league in points.
No. 14: Ivan Morozov
- Age: 20
- Position: Center
- Currently playing: SKA St. Petersburg, KHL
- Nationality: Russian/
This was Morozov’s first full regular season at the KHL level, and he impressed with 13 goals and 31 points in 55 games. He also managed a plus-15 rating. His 31 points were good for fourth overall in team scoring, and he led the league among players under the age of 22.
Morozov hasn’t been a consistent offensive threat throughout his time in the KHL; he scored zero points in 11 games in 2018-19 and seven points in 16 games in 2019-20. However, a mid-season promotion to a top-six role led to an uptick in production this year.
Morozov’s improvement is also coming through in his playoff production, as he’s operating at more than a point-per-game pace with one goal and five points through four contests.
The KHL is known for being difficult on young players, so the fact that Morozov has excelled with one of the best teams in the second-best league in the world at his age is promising.
Morozov is perhaps an overlooked prospect in Vegas’ system. Though he moved up one spot in these rankings, he did finish ninth and 12th on two ballots, and he could break the top-10 next year.
Either way, there’s a lot to be excited about when it comes to his game.
The 6-foot-1, 178-pound center is a 200-foot player who is reliable at both ends of the ice, and he was used in all situations this season. He’s strong in the dots as well, as evidenced by his 62.9 percent success rate this year, which was tops on the team and third overall in the entire KHL.
Morozov has demonstrated an ability to show up in big moments, such as this overtime game-winning goal that sent Russia to the gold medal game in the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championships.
From OVERTIME to the GOLD MEDAL GAME! @russiahockey picks up the win over @trekronorse and will go for GOLD tomorrow! #WorldJuniors pic.twitter.com/xQYTmcFLEZ— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) January 4, 2020
There’s a hint of Chandler Stephenson in that play given the speed, skating and finishing ability. It’s unclear if Morozov will be more than a bottom-six center, as his offensive contributions remain somewhat inconsistent. However, he has all the tools to reach the NHL, and center depth is Vegas’ greatest need.
Ivan Morozov (#17, VGK 2018 2nd round) beats all five skaters and a goalie with a stunning backhand goal. Vegas is going to love this kid. #VegasBorn #VGKProspects pic.twitter.com/P1WH1RwV7w— Jack Manning (@NHLJackManning) January 27, 2021
Ivan Morozov (VGK 2018 2nd round pick) with a clever drop pass play for a primary assist. #VegasBorn #VGKProspects pic.twitter.com/csXQ0fCZzt— Jack Manning (@NHLJackManning) January 10, 2021
With Morozov still under contract in the KHL, however, it’s unlikely he’ll come to North America until 2022 at the earliest. But given his recent progress, it’s hard to imagine Vegas won’t ink him to an entry-level deal and put him on a fast track to the NHL.
He’s good friends with Pavel Dorofeyev, so the two Russian-born forwards should make a strong duo in Henderson.
VGK's Ivan Morozov (#8) does an excellent job battling for puck possession down low and feeds the puck to VGK's Dorofeyev (#27), who makes a filthy saucer pass to snag the assist on the tap-in goal.— Jack Manning (@NHLJackManning) August 25, 2019
These two are going to be something special for Vegas.#VGK #VegasBorn pic.twitter.com/vlfbX8VYHm
Previously in the Golden Knights Top 25 Under 25 2020-21 Series:
Honorable mention: Layton Ahac
No. 25: Jonas Rondbjerg
No. 24: Jake Leschyshyn
No. 23: Paul Cotter
No. 22: Keegan Kolesar
No. 21: Ben Jones
No. 20: Marcus Kallionkieli
No. 19: Lukas Cormier
No. 18: Pavel Dorofeyev
No. 17: Brandon Kruse
No. 16: Peter DeLiberatore
No. 15: Connor Corcoran