Lightning Round: Daniil Pylenkov is making progress in the KHL

<strong>The Lightning prospect has a contract year in Russia</strong>

One of the untold stories of this season is about the Tampa Bay Lightning’s prospect Daniil Pylenkov, who has made a step forward recently, even becoming the best defenceman of December in the KHL. We mentioned it in one of our Lightning Rounds earlier this week, but let’s take a closer look at the current season of a 22-year-old defenceman from Russia.

The reason behind such progress of Pylenkov is pretty clear. Last November he and goalie Alexander Samonov were traded from SKA St. Petersburg to Severstal Cherepovets in exchange for goaltender Vladislav Podyapolsky. SKA is widely known for their mismanagement of young players, which lies in acquiring of a big amount of talented young players from the whole league, but not giving them a proper ice time in the KHL due to an inflated roster.

No surprise that since moving to Cherepovets, Pylenkov’s ice time skyrocketed from 14:49 per game in St. Petersburg to 22:36 per game with Severstal. Pylenkov’s also currently leading all defencemen on his team in ice time. Since joining his new team he has recorded three goals and seven assists, becoming the second-best defenceman in Cherepovets, trailing only to Robin Press, who’s currently second-best defenceman in the whole league with 35 points in 46 games. Overall this season Pylenkov has 17 (4+13) points in 35 games, which is two points from tying his career best result, which he achieved in 2020-21 with Vityaz Podolsk.

Pylenkov was drafted as an overager at the 2021 NHL Entry Draft with the 196th overall pick. He’s an 6’1”, 194 pound left-shot defender, who has a silver medal from the 2020 World Juniors under his belt, where he scored one assist in seven games for team Russia.

Last August Pylenkov made our Top 25 Under 25 list at 23rd position. This is what Hardev wrote about him back in last summer:

It should be noted that Pylenkov is as old as Dmitri Semykin, who also spent his teen years in SKA’s system and is now an ECHL defender who gets the occasional call up. Pylenkov may have been drafted recently, but his runway to develop and improve was short before he even arrived.

Putting it in a slightly different way, Pylenkov was the 6D on a team whose best defender was Mikko Lehtonen, a guy who couldn’t crack an NHL lineup, ditto for Igor Ozhiganov who was on the second pairing. For me, Pylenkov will need to beat these two defenders within the next year or so for me to believe he can be a good player in the AHL and with NHL aspirations.

This year is also a contract year for Pylenkov, whose current deal is expiring the end of the season. He hasn’t showed any interest in going overseas to the AHL so far, but this is definitely one of the options for a young defenceman.

The Syracuse Crunch lost on the second consecutive night, this time to the Rochester Americans.

The game, however, will be mostly remembered by a goalie fight between Jack LaFontaine, who replaced Max Lagace at the start of the second period, and Malcolm Subban.

The Orlando Solar Bears also lost to the Florida Everblades on a Saturday night.

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Another high-scoring night in the NHL.