Before we get into the nitty gritty of his game let’s acknowledge something that I don’t think has happened in the history of the Top 25 – a player finishing in the same spot not two years in a row, not three years in a row, but four years in a row. Should we petition Groshev to wear #15 when he eventually makes his debut in a Lightning uniform?
This season, the timing of the rankings may have hurt him a bit. If we had waited until after the Rookie Showcase, chances are that he might have climbed a little higher since he had an outstanding tournament and really showcased the skillset he can bring to the the Crunch this year and, hopefully, the Lightning in the near future.
The Lightning signed him to his three-year, entry-level contract in May, a solid indication that he is going to be playing in North America this season. After spending the last few seasons bouncing back and forth between the KHL and the VHL (the Russian equivalent to the AHL) it is time for Groshev to bring his talents to America.
So, what type of player is Groshev? His career offensive totals don’t seem to peg him as a high-scoring forward, but some of that might be due to his usage with SKA St. Petersburg. As we mentioned in the Daniil Pylenkov write-up, SKA tends to favor experience over youth and Goshev just didn’t see a lot of ice time with them. In his 34-game stint with them last year he averaged just 10:34 of ice time with an average of 2:06 of that coming shorthanded.
Does that mean he’s going to come over and light up goaltenders to a tune of 30 goals a season? Probably not, but he could get to around 20 goals a season, which would be perfectly fine for the role he’s likely to carve out as a professional. Groshev has the size and skill to fill the role of a middle-to-bottom-six forward. He uses his 6’1″, 192 lb. frame to disrupt things in the neutral zone. He isn’t a blazer, but is quick enough to get in the way of things and then large enough to separate opposing players from the puck.
If you take a look at this play, notice how Groshev (#28 in white) keeps his head up throughout the whole play, constantly checking the ice around him to see where the opposition is located. Once the player in red loses control of the puck along the boards Groshev is quick enough to get to it, strong enough to shield him off of the puck, and then snapped it into the empty net. It’s nice to get the goal, but the work he put in before it is what made it happen.
Some of his other highlights down below also show his proclivity to use his backhand in his playmaking. Early in the game against Nashville to open the Rookie Showcase he made a nice, long, breakout pass from his own zone off of the backhand as well. His confidence with the backhand will allow him to play on either the left or right wing and versatility is always prized by the Lightning coaching staff.
The Athletic pegged him with having a chance to play in the NHL in their most recent ranking of the system, highlighting his skating and work ethic, but questioning if he has the scoring ability to stick as a pro in North America. In an earlier review of his potential, Scott Wheeler again praised his ability to skate, especially through transition, but wondered about how he may deal with pressure:
“But I’ve also too often seen a player whose processing doesn’t keep up and whose game suffers east-to-west or under pressure as a result, too often trying to force the envelope. I find it hard when you combine that with lacklustre production to be confident that he’ll get the most out of his obvious athletic ability.”
That could be an issue as he adjusts to the slightly smaller rinks in North America. Syracuse general manager Stacy Roest touched on this prior to the Rookie Showcase when he was speaking about some of the European players coming over this season,
“You have a little less time and space and the game is probably a little bit quicker. Over there you have 50 feet wider rinks and it’s a little bit more time and space.”
Players have struggled to adapt in the pass, but with the style of game that he plays, which is pretty straightforward and not reliant on playmaking, he should hopefully adjust pretty well. For Groshev, the only way to deal with it is by getting out onto the ice as much as possible and learning. That will be the prime focus for him over the next few weeks. If he can show the Syracuse coaching staff that he can make the adjustment, he will earn ice time with the Crunch. From there he can work on making it up to the Lightning.
As for how we had him ranked. Geo, who placed him 8th, was highest on him while our Syracuse folks pegged him at 21st and 17th respectively. The rest of the voters had him13, 14, and 15. The spread highlights the fact that despite him being in the system for the better part of three seasons now, we really don’t know how his game will translate to the NHL. We will likely have a better grasp of what he can do after this season so it will be interesting to see if he goes up or down in the 2024 version of this list.
🚨 HIGHLIGHT REEL 🚨— Future Bolts (@LightningProsp1) February 18, 2023
Maxim Groshev (#28 in navy) absolutely taunts the defender and roofs it home for his 2nd goal of the game and his 9th of the VHL season! This man came to PLAY. Dmitry Ovechkin (‘99) and Vladislav Kurbatov (‘97) pick up the assists.
🚨 Maxim Groshev (#28 in navy) goes to the net and puts it home on the backhand for his 5th goal of the VHL season! Matvei Kabush (‘02) and Nikolai Polyakov (‘00) pick up the assists.— Future Bolts (@LightningProsp1) January 31, 2023