Could the NY Islanders recent influx of Russian players carry over to the NHL Draft?

2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Round One
2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Round One / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

Since Lou Lamoriello took over as the NY Islanders GM, the number of Russian players on the roster has increased significantly.

In Garth Snow's final season, the Islanders had just one player on the roster who represented Russia, Nikolai Kulemin. Fast forward six years, and entering Lamoriello's seventh season with the Islanders, the team currently has four likely to be on the ice for the start of the 2024-25 season, with the potential to add more.

The backbone of the team in between the pipes, Ilya Sorokin and Semyon Varlamov have been one of the league's top duos, as Lamoriello has locked up two goaltenders from a nation currently producing the world's best.

Then Lamoriello acquired Alexander Romanov from the Montreal Canadiens, with him taking a big leap in his development last season.

And finally Maxim Tsyplakov. The top European free agent who Lamoriello swooped in to bring to North America, giving the Islanders a low-cost, low-risk, big-bodied forward.

Then there is Ruslan Iskhakov, who's been in North America for some time but could potentially make the Islanders Roster after appearing in two games last season.

With the draft just over three weeks away, Lamoriello could look to add more Russian firepower to his bleak prospect pool.

Super agent Dan Millstein, who represents many of the top Russian players in the NHL, will host an NHL Draft showcase in Florida for Russian and Belorussian players. Due to restrictions caused by the ongoing war in Ukraine, scouts haven't been able to view many of the Russian prospects properly, and this will be their first opportunity to see them in person.

Two names that stand out most for the Islanders at pick No. 20 are Igor Chernyshov and Nikita Artamonov.

Chernyshov is a big-bodied forward listed at 6'2" and 192 lbs and should translate well into a top-9 power-forward in the NHL. He doesn't wow anybody with skill but has a hard shot and is willing to go to the dirty areas of the ice. He's currently ranked 17th on Elite Prospects consolidated rankings.

Artamanov is nearly the opposite type of player from Chernyshov. He's listed at only 5'11 but is known much more for his puck skills. He played most of the season in the KHL, registering 23 points (7 G, 16A) in 54 games - numbers quite impressive for an 18-year-old in one of the world's top leagues. He's ranked 26th on Elite Prospects consolidated rankings.

The last time Lamoriello selected a Russian player at the draft was Iskhakov in the second round in 2018. Though it's been a while since he's selected a Russian player, this may be the year he elects to go in that direction.