Despite the 2023 NHL Draft being one of the deepest in recent memory, there are still a plethora of players whose rankings across different draft boards vary wildly. One such player is Russian winger Daniil But, ranked anywhere from the top-10 in some cases to outside the first round in others. Cory Pronman, for example, has But as his eighth ranked prospect, whereas Future Considerations has him at 47th.
Let’s take a look at why But’s projections are so difficult to pinpoint, but also what makes him one of the most intriguing players in the draft.
2023 NHL Draft Update: Daniil But was selected first overall by the Arizona Coyotes.
Who is Daniil But?
Daniil But’s on-ice production
|2020-21||D-2||Lokomotiv Yaroslavl U16 “C”||Russia U16||11||12||14||26|
|2021-22||D-1||Lokomotiv Yaroslavl U17||Russia U17||1||0||0||0|
|Russia U18 (all)||International-Jr||9||0||1||1|
|Russia U18 (all)||International-Jr||3||1||3||4|
But is massive. There is absolutely no denying this fact, and it’s the first thing you will notice when you see him on the ice or just look at his bio. At a towering 6’5″ and 203 lbs at just 18 years old, But is without a doubt one of the most imposing and physically mature players in the draft. He plays the left wing but shoots right, which has led to impressive goal scoring throughout his junior career thus far.
But has played in the Lokomoti Yaroslavl system his entire career, serving as the captain of the Lokomotiv U16 team in his D-2 season and putting up an impressive 12 goals and 26 points in 11 games. He has done extremely well in the MHL in both this year and last, putting up a combined 35 goals and 76 points in 81 games.
Though But did not play on Russia’s world junior team, he did play a prominent role in the U18s, putting up a goal and four points in three games this year. His strong play in the MHL prompted a promotion to the KHL where he managed to skate in 15 games. He only put up two goals in the KHL, but getting 15 games as a draft eligible player is no small feat. But is definitely more of a goal scorer than a playmaker, but is can do both quite well.
But is on contract with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl until 2025.
Daniil But’s strengths
This is an easy one. There is no question that his size is the biggest reason why scouts feel But could go as high as the top-10 of this year’s draft, but also slip down to the second round. NHL GMs salivate over getting a power forward with Buts frame. At the MHL level, But’s size allows him to physically bully his opponents, open up space, and do whatever he wants on the ice. He didn’t use his size as well as he probably could have, but as a huge teenager, he has time to grow into his frame. At the end of the day, his size is easily his best attribute and something that will get GMs very excited.
But’s goal scoring is his best offensive attribute. His shot is extremely heavy and likely NHL caliber already, no doubt helped along by his big frame. He is extremely deadly on the power play and this is a transferable skill to the NHL level. What doesn’t get talked about enough with But’s shooting is how deceptive his shot is. He is adept at dragging the puck towards his body to open up different shooting angles and fool goalies with a quicker release than they were expecting. But can score goals and he can do it in may different ways, off the rush or the cycle.
Daniil But’s areas of improvement
When he gets going, But can move. However, his acceleration and stride are mediocre at best, and while this is fine at the MHL level, his skating is going to be a problem at the NHL level. Of course, But can easily improve on this and naturally will as he plays more games at higher levels and gets used to the speed of the game, but right now his speed and skating are definitely an area that he needs to work on.
For a players of his size, But should be able to keep the puck and maintain control of it even while defended in the offensive zone. However, But often loses control when pestered from a following defender, and often does not see danger areas when he carries the puck. This leads to him skating and stick handling into less than ideal situations, and turning the puck over. But does not scan the ice at a high level yet, but will improve as his comfort does at the next levels.
Daniil But’s comparables
Several scouts have listed Tage Thompson as the best case scenario for But, however I don’t personally think that is a realistic expectation. But’s skill set is just too raw fright now to assume he’ll get to a Thompson type level. To me, But looks like a very large goal scorer who can most likely have his biggest impact on the power play. This may not be giving him enough credit, but the most accurate comparable in my eyes for But is Nick Ritchie. A big goal scorer who isn’t a great skater but can be an effective middle-six scorer in the right scenario. if But wasn’t as big as he was, I don’t think we’re talking about him as a first round pick at all.
Fit with the Flames
I don’t think But adds anything to the Flames’ prospect pool outside of size. I don’t think he would add enough to any team’s prospect pool to take him in the first half of the first round, for that matter. There’s no denying his goal scoring ability and the potential if/when he grows into his form, but the risk of him turning into Nick Ritchie is just too high for me. I’d pass on But in he first round and if he falls to the second, take him and feel good about it. That being said, he almost certainly will get selected by a size-crazy GM in the first round and I hope it’s not the Flames.
Daniil But is an enormous power forward who shoots right but plays the left wing. He has done a great job in the MHL mostly putting up goals, and got into 15 KHL games this season. Committed to Yaroslavl until 2025, But has time to grow into his frame and round out his game over the next couple years. I would describe But as a high risk high reward prospect ho could go anywhere from the top-10 to the second round. He is definitely going to be an interesting player to watch come draft day.
Projection: Middle-six scoring power forward
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