Oleksii Myklukha was a bit of an unknown commodity prior to this season, despite putting up 52 points in 39 games with Red Bull Hockey Akademie’s U19 team last season. There were questions about whether or not he would come over to North America following the CHL Import Draft, where the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies drafted him 54th overall in the first round. Last August, Myklukha confirmed he would report to the team, and arrived in time for the second half of the QMJHL season.
The first time a lot of fans were exposed to Myklukha was during the 2019 Hlinka-Gretzky Cup, where he picked up two goals and two assists in four games. Although Slovakia finished second-last amongst eight countries, Myklukha shone for the team with and without the puck. His two-way game looked much improved and he was flying for the Slovaks.
Myklukha got off to a fast start in the Q, picking up two assists in his first game. Of his first seven games in the league, Myklukha registered multi-point efforts three times. However, his offense dried up fairly quickly after that — Myklukha only registered one goal in the remaining 14 games of the shortened-by-pandemic regular season. The natural center didn’t get consistent time in the faceoff dot, and when he did take the occasional faceoff, his numbers fluctuated.
The Huskies gave Myklukha time on the powerplay this season, and it wouldn’t be surprising if they gave him some time on the penalty kill as well in the future. Myklukha can be a dangerous player shorthanded thanks to his breakaway speed and vision. Perhaps Myklukha’s skating abilities were questioned once, but he’s looked a lot faster this season — especially since joining Rouyn.
Myklukha’s vision is also above average, allowing him to read developing plays well and create offense. His ability to weave through and around the offensive zone with the puck opens up passing lanes for him to feed teammates.
Another part of his game that was questioned heading into this season was his shot. It still isn’t something Myklukha unleashed regularly when he joined the Huskies this season, but when he did, it paid off. He needs to use it more — the whippy release is new, and the velocity of the shot looks heavier and faster. More consistent shooting from Myklukha next season will hopefully lead to more goals.
The biggest knock against Myklukha at the moment is his size — he may have gotten off to a fast start in the Q, but the longer the season wore on, the more he struggled. He’ll have to get stronger during the off-season in order to be able to perform and produce more consistently in major junior next year.
Strengths: Skating, Vision, Playmaking
To Improve: Strength, Shot
He has some good smarts, he sees the ice well and he’s a good player shorthanded. Thanks to his anticipation, he’s able to read plays pretty quickly. He’ll need to improve his shot, as it lacks velocity at the moment and it is tough for him to score from long distances. [2019 Black Book]
Myklukha skates like the wind and has the hands to keep up with his speed. His best attributes are his vision and passing ability. He’s creative and knows where to take the puck to open up passing lanes. Once he’s there he has the hands to put the puck right on the tape from near impossible angles. He’s an adept stickhandler and handles the puck as well in traffic as he does in open ice. He has a dangerous shot, but I’d love to see him opt to use it more often. He’ll also need to bulk up as he moves on to the next levels. [Sam Stern via The Sudbury Star]
I think LHD Giancarlo Chanton (2021) would like to get a do-over on this play against C Oleksii Myklukha (2021) who is just too quick and slippery for him. #HlinkaGretzkyCup pic.twitter.com/j9scaK306E— Jokke Nevalainen (@JokkeNevalainen) August 9, 2019
All statistics from Elite Prospects and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.