On the AHL transactions page today was the Marlies addition of a 6’1″ Russian LW, Pavel Gogolev. If his name sounds familiar that is because he scores at least 5 goals on every Semyon Der-Arguchintsev highlight reel. The pair of Russians were teammates on Peterborough for parts of 3 seasons from 2016-18, joined by Nick Robertson in 2017.

Gogolev and SDA showed some incredible chemistry, Der-Arguchintsev being an elite passer and Gogolev a top end finisher.

Gogolev would eventually be traded to Guelph, picking up some championship experience in the OHL finals. He led the Storm with 96 points and 45 goals in 63 games in 19-20, good for 6th in the OHL.

He was the only player on my list of Overage standouts in the 2020 Draft that didn’t get selected, and briefly played in Sweden before signing his AHL contract with the Marlies.

If the highlights failed to make clear his biggest strength, he has an NHL level shot already. It is really difficult to compare to Matthews’ shot, but Gogolev employs some of the same mechanics. He is keen to use the defender as a screen, load his stick for the shot, then curl and drag his release point closer to the feet. It’s deceptive on two fronts, challenging the goaltender to see through the screen and disguising the angle the puck will come from.

Over the past 10 OHL seasons there has been fewer than 50 examples of players hitting the 45 goal mark, clearly Gogolev is putting that shot to good use. His skating may prevent him from getting to open ice and doing the same at the professional level, that will be the focus of his time with the Marlies. Still, his OHL production shows that Gogolev has more upside than the average Undrafted Free Agent to sign an ELC out of the OHL.

Gogolev is highlighted in red, and the Y-axis is points per game.

It’s important to remember the difference between a 20 year old putting up 96 points in the OHL and a first time draft eligible, Gogolev is not going to translate into a top 6 NHLer. There is some players on that list who spent a couple of seasons in the AHL before making an impact on an NHL 3rd line, that is what Gogolev’s upside looks like. With multiple injuries the Leafs are missing a shooting talent on their 3rd line, two or three years down the road Gogolev could be filling that role.

In the meantime there are plenty of openings for Marlies forwards, as their usual top 6 forwards occupy the Taxi Squad. It appears SDA will remain in the KHL for this season, but there will be plenty of set up men for Gogolev in the middle 6. To compare Gogolev to another goal scoring Russian winger in the OHL, Dmitri Sokolov exited the league with 50 goals and 96 points in 64 games, then followed it up with 30 points in 60 games in his AHL rookie season.

Between Gogolev and Justin Brazeau the Marlies have a couple of young, high scoring wingers ready to break into the AHL. The opportunities of one could come at the expense of another, if the Marlies track record has taught us anything it maybe Brazeau who gets the extra chances because he put in his time in the ECHL.

Regardless, Gogolev represents another name on a long list of players who the Marlies snagged when there should have been NHL interest. From Justin Holl to Byron Froese to Kristians Rubins, Kyle Dubas has consistently been able to use AHL contracts to develop NHL talent. At the start of the 20-21 season Bobby McMann, Gordie Green, Jeremy McKenna, and Noel Hoefenmayer were top contributors while on loan with ECHL Wichita, all on AHL deals with the Marlies.

It’s still unclear what Gogolev’s role will be with the Marlies for 20-21, as he works on developing his skating and adjusting to the pro game. The real payoff will be reuniting him with SDA at some point down the road, their chemistry with Peterborough was indisputable. I could see them forming a lethal powerplay unit in the AHL for 21-22.