Nashville Predators Prospect Profile: The Diverse Development of Egor the “EGOAT”

Egor Afanasyev poses after being selected 45th overall by the Nashville Predators during the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena on June 22, 2019 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Kevin Light/Getty Images)
Egor Afanasyev poses after being selected 45th overall by the Nashville Predators during the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena on June 22, 2019 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Kevin Light/Getty Images) /
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If you’ve been a diligent observer of Nashville Predators Twitter as of late, you will notice a theme whenever the name Egor Afanasyev is mentioned.

That’s right, folks, not even one game into his NHL career, and Afanasyev has been dubbed by Preds Twitter as “EGOAT.” Clever, fairly original, and hopefully a moniker the 20-year-old prospect hailing from Tver, Russia, can live up to.

Like many, Afanasyev’s journey since he was selected 45th overall in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft by the Predators has been strange, to say the least, but nothing if not diverse.

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Punching Passports

After posting over a point per game numbers in the United States Hockey League (USHL) with the Muskegon Lumberjacks in 2018-19, Afanasyev took his talents north of the border to Windsor, Ontario.

In Ontario, Afanasyev posted a 67 point (35 goals, 32 assists) season to go along with 40 penalty minutes with the Spitfires of the OHL.

The pandemic forced the then 19-year-old to return home to play in the KHL and put up 6 points in 16 games with CSKA Moscow, a top-tier organization in what is widely regarded as the “second-best league in the world.”

Afanasyev’s 2020-21 season highlight may have been a five-point performance over seven games to help Russia secure a fourth-place finish at the 2021 World Junior Championships alongside fellow Predators draftees Goaltender Yaroslav Askarov and Defenseman Semyon Chistyakov.

Afanasyev’s hopeful next destination is a spot in the opening night roster for the team that drafted him in the NHL.

The Evolution Of Egor For The Nashville Predators

Unfortunately, Afanasyev didn’t score a goal in the Future Stars scrimmage on Thursday, but his possession time looked good during the minutes he played. As an added bonus, he managed to score a filthy shootout goal.

What we hope to see from Afanasyev as he completes his second development camp with the Preds is a more complete and confident player than the last time we saw him in a gold jersey a couple of summers ago.

Afanasyev’s experiences in both Canadian junior hockey and against grown men in the KHL the past two seasons have helped build the foundation of his game. As a result, it was an easy choice for the Predators to select him in 2019.

The progression plan for Afanasyev looks to take another step forward as he will assuredly be given an opportunity at Predators training camp in September to make a lasting impression that could possibly, potentially, maybe result in a call-up later this season.

I would expect Afanasyev to continue his professional seasoning with the Milwaukee Admirals to start the year. The AHL will allow him to reacclimate to North American ice and build confidence and good habits with Head Coach Karl Taylor and his staff.

The diverse development of Afanasyev will continue with a new team in Milwaukee unless the organization elects to loan him back to CSKA Moscow to develop overseas.

Like every Predators prospect, the team will elect to do what they think is best for their players. The next logical step should be to continue his development on this side of the pond. It would be hard to imagine a 2021-22 season without Afanasyev in Admirals attire.

As the summer rolls on and he continues to develop under the watchful eye of Predators development coaches and staff, fans will surely be keeping an eye on the physical force that is Afanasyev. He brings both offensive abilities and stature with his 6’3, 200+ pound frame and is a standout amongst those currently at development camp.

Combine that big frame with a knack for knocking pucks into the back of the net, and Predators fans will have some deciding to do between current forward Yakov “Yak” Trenin and Afanasyev as who their favorite Russian born player on the team is.

“EGOAT” will have some serious work to do to live up to the hype laid upon him by the Twitter masses. However, given the places he’s been in the game literally and figuratively at only 20 years of age, Afanasyev’s diverse development path will continue to shape him into the prospect that can hopefully fit into a middle-six role.

Afanasyev will be a physical presence and an offensive threat when he gets his full-time opportunity for the Nashville Predators, likely sometime later this season or early in 2022-23.

Carry on, young Egor, carry on!

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