by J.T. Toth
Photo courtesy of Michigan State Athletics.
The 2024 NHL Draft will be here before you know it, and Draft 412 will preview some of the prospects who will be probable first round picks. Draft 412 will review the strengths and weaknesses of each prospect, and where they should land in the NHL Draft.
Name- Artyom Levshunov
Pos- RH- Defenseman
Team- Michigan State
HT/WT- 6’2” 198 lbs.
Home – Zhlobin, Belarus
Before moving to America, Levshunov debuted internationally with the Belarus men’s junior team in the Division 1A WJC Championship. He helped the team win a gold medal with 2 assists in 5 games.
Levshunov was selected 111th overall in the 8th round of the USHL entry draft and signed with the Green Bay Gamblers for the 2022-2023 season after scoring 25 goals and 38 assists for Team Belarus in the U17 Vysshaya Liga in Belarus. In the USHL, he was named a first team All-Rookie and Third team All-USHL after scoring 13 goals and 29 assists in 62 games.
After just one season in the USHL, Levshunov decided to commit to Michigan State University. On October 7th, 2023 he made his debut for the Spartans, and on the next day, he recorded his first NCAA goal and assist.
Artyom Levshunov is one of the best defensemen in the 2024 rookie class and there are several reasons why. His mobility, transitional game and understanding of two-way hockey is at the top of this class. He has an excellent feel for when to jump into the play in the offensive zone, or to hang back and keep pucks in the zone. His hand-eye coordination at the point is relentless, and he always seems to knock down the puck on possible clearings. He is a smooth skater with an excellent build for his position who has improved each year at penalty killing. His right-handed shot at the point is accurate and hard and he knows when to let it go. He does a good job of maneuvering around forwards who go down early to block his shot. He plays with a physical presence at the blue line and will make you pay if you skate with your head down. He also does an effective job of clearing out players in front of his own net and is not afraid to put a stick or body on opponents to let them know he is there.
At times, Levshunov can go out of his way for a big hit and take himself out of position. He can also get too emotionally involved with the hits and what players are saying. He can get away from playing his complete game once somebody rubs him the wrong way, and NHL teams are loaded with players who excel at this. Though he is excellent at skating and moving the puck, he has an aggressive attitude on lead passes and can be the culprit of unnecessary icings.
Draft 412 thinks a good comparison to Levshunov is Edmonton Oilers defenseman Evan Bouchard. Though Bouchard isn’t quite as physical, they play the same offensive game and both can unleash their right handed shot accurately and with velocity. Another way to compare Levshunov is to a smaller Brent Burns. Burns is more on his physical level and both can have a tendency for going after a big hit or a scrum they shouldn’t be involved in.
Another top prospect playing NCAA Hockey, Levshunov will get a chance to display his skills all season long. He has as good a chance as any other defensive prospect to be selected in the top 10 and possibly even as high as 3rd overall.
Draft 412 Draft Prediction - Round 1, Top 10—with a shot at top 5.