NHL Draft

Dmitri Simashev 2023 NHL Draft Profile – Arizona Coyotes #6 Pick

The 2023 NHL Draft is going to be a deep one, but the first round is mostly littered with high-end forwards. There aren’t too many defencemen who are being talked about, but one of the more intriguing names is Dmitri Simashev.

The Russian defender put together a very impressive draft season, and is ranked as high as ninth overall on some draft boards.

2023 NHL Draft Update: Dimitri Simashev was selected sixth overall by the Arizona Coyotes.

Who is Dmitri Simashev?

Dmitri SimashevDL6’4″ / 194cm201lbs / 91kg

Simashev was born on February 4, 2005 in Kostroma, Russia—a small city with a population under 300,000. He has played with the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl system his entire career, starting out captaining the U16 team and working his way up to the KHL club in his D+0 season.

One of the older players in this draft class, Simashev stands out in a big way due to his high game count in the KHL this season. The KHL is the best league outside of North America, and playing 18 games as a 18-year-old is an impressive feat. He managed to crack the roster of a very good KHL team as their seventh defenceman, but as is the case with most draft eligibles who play in the KHL, he was unable to play a high number of minutes. As a result, he played mostly in the Russian junior league.

He is likely the best defensive defenseman in the draft, but is signed through the 2024–25 season in the KHL. The earliest he could play in the NHL is the 2025–26 season, at which point he would be 20 years old.

Simashev’s on-ice production

On the ice, Simashev is a prototypical shutdown, defensive defenceman. He will not show up in a big way on the score sheet, putting up a total of two assists in 22 career KHL games, but that’s not what he does.

YearDraft RelativeTeamLeagueGPGAP
2021–22D-1 Loko YaroslavlMHL4651116
2022–23D+0 Lokomotiv YaroslavlKHL18000
 Loko YaroslavlMHL291910
 Loko-76 YaroslavlMHL4022

Even as a defensive defenceman, it is expected that a player of Simashev’s calibre and size would be able to produce at the MHL level. The fact that he had just one goal this season is concerning, and it points to a very tough road to be any kind of offensive threat in the NHL. What makes it even more complicated is that he played on the second power play unit this season and still couldn’t muster any type of meaningful offence.

Scouts across the board say that Simashev has more offence in him, but just needs to work on it a bit more. He has good raw offensive skills, like walking the line and making sure his shot finds its way to the net, but he lacks a clear offensive strategy and doesn’t really plan well on the offensive side. These are things he can definitely work on with a coach.

Simashev’s strengths

Using his size

It’s one thing to have a huge frame and physically dominate players in junior, but Simashev showed that he can use his frame very effectively at the KHL level. It did take him some time to adjust to the speed of the KHL game, but once he did, his game continually improved night after night.

Simashev is excellent at defending the rush, breaking up zone entries and forcing defenders to dump the puck in to try and get around him. Even when challenged, Simashev consistently comes out on top of one-on-one puck battles, and does a very good job transitioning the puck up the ice using his size to angle defenders off.

This is a skill that projects very favourably to the NHL; think Chris Tanev but bigger. There will always be a place for this type of skillset in the NHL.


For a player of his size, Simashev is actually very fleet of foot. His agility and mobility are both very impressive and he is very tough to beat on the rush. Even after two or three attempts to turn Simashev around, he stays with the offender and doesn’t ever give up on defence.

Simashev’s skating and agility is something scouts almost always point out, and it’s an are of his game that has actually steadily improved as he got more and more reps in the KHL. This is an excellent tool to have in his kit as the draft approaches, and helps him project very well to the NHL once again.

Simashev’s areas of improvement


Like I touched on earlier, Simashev’s offensive production has been nothing short of underwhelming so far. However, with a good coach and commitment to learning and adapting on the offensive side of the game, Simashev’s skills can translate into more offence. His shot does find the net with regularity and has some mustard to it. In transition, he shows flashes of great breakouts with smart and snappy stretch passes, and because of his mobility sometimes even skates it up the ice himself.

He definitely has more to give on the offensive side, it’s just now a question of whether he can unlock it or not.

Defending the cycle

Simashev isn’t bad at defending necessarily, but he’s noticeably better at defending the rush. If he can improve his cycle defence he could become an elite defensive player, and this is something that would be very important for NHL teams to see. Again, he’s not bad at it right now, especially when defending behind his own net, but it’s an area he will no doubt be working on.

Simashev’s comparables

Simashev has been compared to players like Ryan Lindgren, but I can’t personally find a better example than Tanev. Simashev’s defensive game could truly be elite in the NHL, and he could mix in some offence in the form of strong breakouts and a goal or two every now and then.

Fit with the Flames

Defence is not a strong suit for the Flames prospect pool right now. Simashev is projected to go anywhere in the first round, some scouts saying he could belong in the top five even, but he is essentially guaranteed to be a first-round pick. Finding players like Simashev is very difficult, and NHL teams will covet his elite defence. He would be an excellent pick for the Flames, and any team, really. He could be a number one defenceman in the NHL that leads your team in ice time every single night. At worst, Simashev projects as a top-four defenceman; that’s pretty darn good.


Simashev is a borderline elite defender with untapped offensive potential, a huge frame but surprisingly mobile, and has already logged games in the KHL for a great Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team this season.

Some scouts have him as high as ninth overall, but he likely will get selected in the middle of the first round. With a projection as a top-four defender in the NHL at the very worst, Simashev will be a very satisfying pick for whichever team has the privilege of drafting him this year.

Simashev is committed to the KHL through the 2024–25 season.

Risk: 1/5

Reward: 4/5

Projection: High-end defensive defenceman

All TWC 2023 NHL Draft Profiles

Check out more of our individual player profiles of selected 2023 NHL Draft prospects:
Connor Bedard | Matvei Michkov | Adam Fantilli | Leo Carlsson | Zach Benson | Andrew Cristall | Oliver Moore | Will Smith | Ryan Leonard | Eduard Sale | Colby Barlow | Axel Sandin Pellikka | Dalibor Dvorsky | Brayden Yager | David Reinbacher | Nate Danielson | Riley Heidt | Matthew Wood | Quentin Musty | Mikhail Gulyayev | Calum Ritchie | Gabe Perrault | Jayden Perron | Ethan Gauthier | Dmitri Simashev | Samuel Honzek | Lukas Dragicevic | William Whitelaw | Otto Stenberg | Gavin Brindley | Daniil But

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