Ivan Miroshnichenko is participating in his first Rookie Camp with the Washington Capitals this September after being in Russia at the same time last year recovering from treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Two hard days of on-ice work in, the 19-year-old winger has already impressed Caps top brass.
Assistant general manager Ross Mahoney was asked to comment on the Russian prospect at Navy’s McMullen Hockey Arena on Sunday.
“Miro has showed us his shot,” Mahoney said. “He can really shoot the puck and he’s physical. He’s a physical player. You’ve got to keep your head up or he’ll give you a little bit of a bump.”
The stocky, young forward has always been a goal scorer, showcasing that at the Russian junior level (MHL) last season where he put up 10 goals in 12 games for Omskie Yastreby. Miroshnichenko has the ability to score with all types of shots, but particularly implementing devastating one-time blasts from a part of the ice that should be familiar to every Caps fan.
NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti caught some video of Miroshnichenko practicing just that at Saturday’s skate inside MedStar Capitals Iceplex.
Ivan Miroshnichenko working on his one-timer from a familiar spot after the first day of Capitals Rookie Camp pic.twitter.com/TG4SgtHhBm
— Tom Gulitti (@TomGulittiNHL) September 16, 2023
Miroshnichenko has been potting so many goals at camp that some of his teammates are also impressed with the power on his shot. “His shot is pretty unreal,” Andrew Cristall added on Sunday. “He seems to always find the back of the net.”
Mahoney is also not lying about the more physical and nasty side to Miroshnichenko’s game. Last season in Russia, after scoring two goals in a game, the Primorsky Krai native showed that he is not afraid to drop the gloves when challenged.
Miroshnichenko will also absolutely kabong players if they aren’t aware of him when he’s on the ice. In just 12 games in the MHL last year, he ended up throwing 29 hits. Just for comparison’s sake, that would come out to 198 hits over a full 82-game season. Alex Ovechkin had 188 bodychecks last season and only 15 NHL forwards hit the 200 mark last year.
— Daria Tuboltseva (@DariaTuboltseva) November 11, 2022
Unlike Matvei Michkov, perhaps his most comparable fellow NHL prospect and former teammate in the Russian national team’s junior system, Miroshnichenko has never once come under the microscope for having rumored attitude or behavioral issues. In fact, he’s shown the exact opposite.
“[Miroshnichenko’s] always been captain of his under-18 team, captain of the under-17 team, and was assistant captain of the under-20 team when he was a 17 year old,” Mahoney said. “So, you know he’s got a good character and good leadership too. He is a determined guy and wants to be a difference maker.”
The only challenge Miroshnichenko is currently facing is his grasp of the English language. He spoke candidly about that process at July’s Development Camp albeit in Russian through an interpreter.
“I do have a tutor that I’ve been spending some time with but once I get here and get acclimated it’ll be much easier for me,” Miroshnichenko said.
According to Mahoney, major progress has already been made on that front. He was asked to compare Miroshnichenko’s level of English understanding and personal expression from July’s development to now.
“Really good, much better,” Mahoney said. “Credit to him to work at it. Your coaches are going to be talking to you in English. It’s important for him to get caught up to speed and be able to speak English.”
That tutoring process has potentially been made easier as Miroshnichenko’s two best buddies at camp already have pretty great English. Miroshnichenko, Alexander Suzdalev and Bogdan Trineyev have formed quite a promising trio and their bond could become even stronger this season with all three likely to spend time with the Hershey Bears in the AHL.
Both Suzdalev and Trineyev have already seen game action in North America, making them invaluable resources for Miroshnichenko to lean on.
“Bogdan did really well coming over as far as learning the language and knowing how things work and Suzdalev speaks Russian, English, and Swedish,” Mahoney said. “They’re both really good guys. They’re good teammates. They’re really helpful to him for sure. I think it makes that transition a lot easier as compared to being by yourself and not knowing the language. So, it’s been really good for him.”
The Caps haven’t outlined exactly what the plan is for Miroshnichenko’s home base next season yet. He is one of the few prospects in the team’s system that already has extended experience playing against men, getting into 23 KHL games for Avangard Omsk last year.
That could mean he has an outside chance of surprising at camp and sticking in the NHL or at the very least heavily pushing for a regular spot in Hershey’s veteran-laden forward lineup.
However, wherever he lands will be secondary to how impressive it is that these discussions and the high praise from Mahoney are even happening just over a year removed from his cancer diagnosis.
“I decided that I needed to pull myself together and be positive,” Miroshnichenko said last November. “I will prove that [the Capitals] did not make a mistake with the choice.”
Headline photo: Katie Adler/RMNB
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