Like most Russian imports to the CHL, Yakov Trenin left home as a young teenager in order to fly across the globe and improve his game in a country where he didn’t speak the language. It’s an impressive feat for any young teenager, but even moreso for Trenin, who adapted so well to North American hockey so quickly. With 18 goals and 67 points in 58 games, it’s hard to believe that Trenin just finished his rookie QMJHL season. Trenin finished 2nd on the Gatineau Olympiques in scoring, trailing only a 20 year old over-ager in his 4th QMJHL season and played in all situations including the penalty kill.
Before joining the QMJHL last season Trenin played 22 games for his local MHL Russian Juniors team, Belye Medvedi (Polar Bears) Chelyabinsk. As a 16 year old playing against players 3 and 4 years his senior, Trenin scored 7 goals and 14 points in 22 games. There is some helpful context for Trenin’s time in the MHL in former Chelyabinsk products Evgeni Kuznetzov (Capitals) and Valeri Nichushkin (Stars). At 17 Kuznetzov scored 16 points in 9 games before moving up to the KHL; Nichushkin meanwhile scored 10 points in 38 games at age 16.
A strong playmaking winger…skates with an awkward but powerful hunched over stride, generating decent speed…needs to work on his foot speed… creativity with the puck is impressive…controls pucks fairly well and protects it due to his size…possesses very good vision and creativity in his passing game… possess a very hard shot with a pretty good release but needs to shoot more…he finishes his checks, goes in front of the net and drives in the corners battling for pucks…competitiveness is good as well as his defensive game. (December 2014)
His ability to play a complete game at both ends of the ice really stands out for a 17-year-old rookie. He plays a key role on the Gatineau penalty kill and has been their most consistent player during an up and down season. His skating holds him back slightly and puts him as a Tier 4 prospect. Look for him to go sometime in the third round.
What BSN Avalanche sees
Watching the Gatineau Olympiques, Yakov Trenin is very easy to spot given his height, wide shoulders, and awkward, lumbering stride. Although he plods around the ice and struggles with the finer aspects of skating, Trenin’s top speed is average. Trenin is strong in the corners and below the goal line, and while he doesn’t line people up for explosive hits, he does play a strong physical game in tight spaces.
Trenin has very good vision, especially below the faceoff dots and makes accurate and creative passes. Trenin is definitely a pass-first playmaker on offense, but he does have a heavy shot which he should learn to use more often as expectations grow next season. On the power play Trenin is vocal, active, and in constant motion. He dictates the pace and structure of the power play and can sometimes be caught playing all five power play positions in one shift, facilitating switch after switch on the cycle.
Trenin has certainly adjusted well to North American hockey so far, because he is a highly intelligent player on both sides of the puck. Defensively he is extremely responsible and uses his size well to disrupt plays, he is also a staple on the Gatineau penalty kill. Offensively Trenin stands out by giving constant puck support to his teammates. Whether it’s as an outlet on the breakout or by releasing in the offensive zone Trenin’s game away from the puck is advanced and he is very intentional about providing options for his teammates.
Trenin has serious hurdles to overcome when it comes to his skating if he hopes to play in the NHL one day, but if he can work with a skating coach and make significant strides in his second season of North American hockey, he has a good ceiling as a Top 6 power winger.
Expected Draft Position
Across hockey’s most popular scouting services Yakov Trenin is ranked from the mid 40’s to the late 70’s. Because he is a larger project and thus a higher risk, it seems unlikely that Trenin will compete with the higher tier prospects who could be available at 40th overall. If a team likes Trenin’s upside they could reach to take him in the 2nd round, but it seems more likely that he slips into the draft’s 3rd round.
How Prospect Fits in Avalanche Organization
As a large, versatile, power winger Yakov Trenin is an excellent fit for an Avalanche development system which is sorely lacking in forwards with NHL upside. In the middle of drafts Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy have shown a willingness to gamble on project players with size, like Kyle Wood, Mason Geertsen and Alexis Pepin, and could make a similar bet on Yakov Trenin. Make no mistake, Trenin is a long term project who could take 4 or more years before pushing for an NHL job. Regardless of timeline, Trenin fills a gap in the Avalanche’s development system and has the potential to one day be an impact forward in the NHL.
Trenin was a major contributor and steadying force on an inconsistent Gatineau Olympiques team this season and was coached by Patrick Roy’s close personal friend and rumored Avalanche assistant coach candidate, Benoit Groulx. Given the close relationship between Roy and Groulx, the Avalanche should have an inside track on their assessment of Trenin on and off the ice, so if they do select the Russian power forward this June, consider it an extra vote of confidence in his ability to grow as a player.