The Anaheim Ducks would love for Ivan Demidov to be available at No. 3 overall in the NHL Draft. The Ducks must hope that the rumors of Artyom Levshunov going to the Blackhawks at No. 2 are true, even though Demidov would be a great fit. Regardless, Ivan Demidov will be a force for whatever team picks him in the NHL Draft.

Demidov draws plenty of comparisons to Tampa Bay Lightning superstar Nikita Kucherov. The two Russians look similar on the ice, as they are both average skating right-wingers with elite offensive talent.

Demidov dominated the Russian Junior League, recording 60 points in 30 games with SKA-1946 St. Petersburg. Demidov made their KHL team out of training camp but didn't play there for long. He played just four games, and his time in the MHL is a reason for pundits to negate his abilities. The MHL is known as a weaker league, so many are wondering if his skills can translate to the North American professional ranks.

Kucherov's draft-eligible season in the MHL didn't hurt his development. He recorded 64 points in 41 games for Krasnaya Armiya Moskva in the MHL. He stayed in Russia after his draft year, splitting his time between the MHL and KHL, and then moved to North America to play in the QMJHL the following season.

We know the career Kucherov ended up having, winning two Stanley Cups and two Art Ross trophies. Ivan Demidov may not replicate that success, but it'd be hard for any teams in the top five to pass up on the possibility. However, a recent development with the Philadelphia Flyers may silence the Russian stereotype in the NHL.

Flyers rumors help Ivan Demidov's case

ivan demidov nhl draft

Reports came out on the eve of the Stanley Cup Final Game 7 that Matvei Michkov may leave his KHL team to sign with the Philadelphia Flyers. The Michkov story was a big one at the 2023 NHL Draft, as he was a top-two talent, nearly on Connor Bedard's level, but a worry about his commitment to coming to North America made him drop to seventh overall.

The Ducks made a surprising selection when they took Leo Carlsson second overall, but the young Swede performed well in his rookie season. The Blue Jackets and Sharks also took Adam Fantilli and Will Smith, two standout American forwards. The most surprising snub was the Montreal Canadiens taking David Reinbacher fifth overall.

Reinbacher didn't have a great season in the Swiss National League last year but signed with the Canadiens to finish the season in North America. He likely won't make the Canadiens out of training camp, which means, in a cruel twist of irony, Michkov could make his NHL debut before Reinbacher.

That result could change teams' draft strategies forever. Will teams be scared to pass over Ivan Demidov after the Michkov situation? Demidov could become the best offensive prospect in this draft, as Macklin Celebrini is more of a two-way forward. He is also more open to coming to North America than Michkov was in the lead-up to the 2023 NHL Draft.

Demidov came to Gold Star's draft combine in Florida last week, reiterating that he was open to coming to North America for the 2025-26 season after his contract in Russia ends. There will be five teams that regret passing on Michkov after the 2023 NHL Draft, so it's unlikely we will see that many teams pass on Demidov this year.

Anaheim Ducks defense depth is good

The Ducks and Blackhawks are open to drafting a defenseman this season, and it wouldn't be surprising if the Blackhawks take Artyom Levshunov. If they do, the Ducks can't pass over Demidov to take Anton Silayev. The talent gap between Demidov and Silayev is too large, and the Ducks don't have a giant need for defensemen.

The Ducks have Cam Fowler and Radko Gudas holding down the fort from a veteran perspective. They could also pick up a right-handed defenseman in the 2024 free agency period, as they are short on defensemen from the right side.

A team can't have more defense depth in their prospect pool than the Anaheim Ducks. They had an unbelievable 2022-23 season from their prospects, and all three of the following defensemen should be starring on the Ducks' blue line.

Olen Zellweger won the WHL Defenseman of the Year and CHL Defenseman of the Year in 2022-23. Tristan Luneau won the QMJHL Defenseman of the Year in the same season, while Pavel Mintukov won the OHL's award. It was the first time in the history of the NHL that players from the same team won all the CHL league's Defenseman of the Year Awards.

Adding Ivan Demidov to a roster that includes these elite defensemen, Mason McTavish, Cutter Gauthier, Troy Tery, and Leo Carlsson, could make the Ducks a force in a few years. Trevor Zegras is also part of that core but could soon leave town as trade rumors swirl.

Will the Anaheim Ducks have the chance to select Ivan Demidov in the NHL Draft?