1OB Summer Prospect Rankings: #1 Vitalii Abramov

By Dan Dukart on August 31, 2018 at 8:05 am
Dennis Wierzbicki – USA TODAY Sports
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The 1st Ohio Battery summer prospect series concludes with our No. 1 prospect in the Blue Jackets organization, Vitalii Abramov.

Reason for Ranking

Abramov has torched the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) for three consecutive years. He became the highest scoring import player in QMJHL history and led the 'Q' with a +52 rating one year after winning the league's MVP award. 

The Russian winger was disappointed to not make the Blue Jackets a year ago, and because of the NHL-CHL agreement, Abramov's playing options were limited. Unable to start the year in the AHL, he returned to the QMJHL for his over-age year. He responded with a second consecutive 104 point season, despite a slow start, 10 fewer games played, and additional defensive responsibilities as he made the move from wing to center.

Internally, it was unanimous. Sam, Paul, and I all had Abramov ranked as our top prospect in the Blue Jackets system.  

NHL Projection

Top six winger.

Abramov, who somehow fell to the 65th pick of the 2016 NHL Draft, is seemingly tailor-made for today's NHL. He's fast, creative, has a wicked release, and is fearless driving the puck to the net, despite his small 5-foot-9, 171 lb. frame. 

The 20-year-old oozes talent and is the type of player that can bring fans out of their seats with his dazzling play. But hockey history is littered with players with similar skill who flame out for one reason or another. We clearly believe he'll be a productive player, but even the top prospects are just prospects. If Abramov can play with the same confidence he brought to his junior career, he'll carve out a long, productive NHL career.  

Best Case Scenario

All-Star level player. 

The challenge will be how he handles bigger, stronger, and more mobile defensemen at the professional level. Even the most bullish Abramov advocates expect something of an adjustment period, but he has an insanely high ceiling.

Corey Pronman of The Athletic had this to say:

He makes highly skilled dekes at a fast pace and does so consistently. Abramov is also a quality goal-scorer, who can score from mid-range and isn’t afraid to get to the dirty areas. He’s also a top-level playmaker who makes unique plays.

It may not happen overnight, but Abramov could be a top-line player for the Blue Jackets. 

Strengths and Weaknesses

Abramov is a fearless, gifted scorer and an underrated passer. He's produced just about everywhere he's been, including four points in four games at the AHL level at the end of the 2016-17 season. His limitations are his size, his lack of elite speed, which only is noteworthy because of his height. His defensive acumen will be tested as he enters the pro ranks.  

He'll get a long look in training camp, but could benefit from spending some time in the AHL.

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