A player known so well in his homeland, yet unranked by Central Scouting, caused the Panthers to call a timeout in the draft to see if he was eligible. Next on the top 25 under 25 is Seattle Thunderbird forward Alexander Delnov.
While he doesn't have the years of experience as previous players on the list, his performance at the 2012 IIHF World U18 Championships have scouts raving about his skating and puck-handling abilities.
Position: LW ▪ Shoots: Left
Height: 6-0 ▪ Weight: 187 lbs.
Born: January 14, 1994 (Age 18) in Moscow, Russia
Draft: Florida, 4th round (114th overall), 2012
As a 17 year old, Delnov played for Mytishchi Atlantes of the MHL in Russia. In 47 games he was eighth in team scoring with 22 points (11G/11A), 16 penalty minutes, and a plus-two. However he was held scoreless in five playoff games. While he only scored three points (1G/2A) in six games at the 2012 IIHF World U18 Championships on the fifth place Russia, scouts fell in love with his play.
"Delnov has explosive skating, a solid work ethic with high-end skills. He was a virtual unknown for me until watching this event."
- ESPN insider Grant Sonier
"This was one of the top-five, top-10 forwards at the Under-18 tournament this past April. We know this kid inside out. He wants to come to North America and play and he’s a guy that we value."
- Panthers Director of Scouting Scott Luce
"Alexander is a smart player with good skill that plays with tenacity. When Russia was playing in the Under 18 tournament we felt he was one of the best all around players on their team."
- Seattle Thunderbirds Head Coach Steve Konowalchuk
The Thunderbirds drafted Delnov the day after Florida in the 2012 CHL Import Draft at 8th overall. Since Florida selected him first, they can, if they choose too, sign him to an entry level contract before he turns 20 and have him play in the AHL.
This season will be a test of what the scouts say about his skill. The Thunderbirds were second to last in goals for in the WHL and haven't made the playoffs since 2009 with three consecutive fifth place finishes. If Delnov lives up to the hype, he'll get more than enough ice time to show off his skills.