Whenever the Colorado Avalanche draft someone from Russia, it’s always the same question.
When, if ever, are we going to see them in North America?
But the current backup on the Avalanche, Ivan Prosvetov, is the rare Russian player who came to North America before he was even drafted by an NHL team.
Prosvetov, who was selected in the fourth round of the 2018 NHL Draft, has been in North America since 2016. At that time, he was just 16 years old. For a teenager from another part of the world, it had to be a difficult decision to cross the pond.
As it turns out, if he wanted to advance his hockey career, he didn’t really have much of a choice.
“I played for a team that didn’t have an MHL team,” Prosvetov told me. “That’s a Junior hockey league in Russia.”
For reference, Gulyayev spent most of last season in the MHL, as Avangard tried to develop him for the KHL. Prosvetov’s organization did have a KHL team, but if he wasn’t ready for the KHL, there was nowhere else for him to play, so he packed up his things and headed to America.
“Basically, my agent sent me to the USHL,” Prosvetov said. “From there, I was playing Junior in North America. Played OHL for a year after, and lost in the finals in the OHL.”
Prosvetov actually spent a year in the NAHL before heading to the USHL. He was one of 12 Russian born players in the NAHL that year, and Prosvotov was the youngest of them all. When he was in the USHL, there were even less Russians, as he was one of seven.
How difficult was that?
“You know what? It was okay,” he said. “I was the starting goalie for four years, so I got to play a lot. When you play a lot, you feel way better, so it wasn’t too hard on me.”
Prosvetov wears #50, which isn’t a common number for anyone, much less a goaltender. Wednesday night was the battle of #50’s, but I didn’t get the chance to ask him if that’s ever happened to him before because of time constraints.
For Prosvetov, it’s a pretty simple explanation as to why he wears that number.
“So the Moscow region, where I’m from, it’s the 50 region,” he told me. “Because in Russia, they go by numbers, so it’s my number, 50, and the region.”
The 24 year old goaltender got his first start against the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday night, and looked solid. The Avalanche did a nice job protecting him, but when called upon, Prosvetov made the stops he needed to make.
Since being claimed on waivers on Oct. 9, he’s spent a lot of time working with Avalanche goaltending coach Jussi Parkkila, time that he’s grateful to have gotten.
“One of the best coaches in the league, for sure,” he said. “Really experienced. If you see what he’s done with Georgie, with Kuemper, with all those guys, he brings them to the next level. I was just really fortunate to come here and have Jussi here.”
Prosvetov and the Avalanche are currently in Vegas, and have the day off. They’ll take on the Golden Knights tomorrow evening at 8 PM MST.