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Can Egor Afanasyev Energize Predators’ Laboring Offense?



Egor Afanasyev
Photo of Egor Afanasyev by John Russell/Nashville Predators

The Nashville Predators have been saying for weeks they needed to find some more secondary scoring.

On Monday, they finally did something about it, calling up Mark Jankowski and Egor Afanasyev, the leading and second-leading scorers, respectively, on the Milwaukee Admirals.

While Afanasyev played 17 games for the Predators at the end of last season, this recall has a little bit of a different feel — more of a reward than a move made out of necessity.

“First time when you’re getting called up, the emotions are crazy,” Afanasyev said. “The next time when you’re called up, I feel a difference this time, and it’s a good difference.”

Afanasyev hit a bit of a learning curve in his first two AHL seasons, scoring just 25 goals in 131 games in 2021 and 2022 after tallying 31 goals and 67 points in 62 games in the OHL in 2019, his final year in the junior leagues.

His first year was about adjusting to the North American ice and learning how to be a pro, and his second was spent fine-tuning the defensive parts of his game and playing with more of an edge, per the request of the Admirals coaching staff.

But now that he’s put everything together and his game is more well-rounded, Afanasyev has shown flashes of being the kind of impact forward the Predators envisioned he would be when they took him 45th overall in 2019.

“He’s got really good skill, but his size and his skating (really stand out). He looks much better than he did early when I saw him in camp. I’m excited to see him [in an NHL game],” Predators head coach Andrew Brunette said.

“…He just looks a little more confident and sure of himself. He’s  a young player, and obviously, he’s had a great year down there. He deserves this opportunity and he looks a player with a lot more confidence than I saw (in camp).”

Afanasyev has been an integral part of the Admirals’ 14-game win streak. He’s notched eight goals and 20 points during that span, including 10 points in his last six games. He’s also recorded seven multi-point games over that stretch, including three 3-point games.

Through 42 AHL games, Afanasyev is tied for fifth in the league in goals (21) and sixth in points (42). But it’s not just the uptick in scoring that’s made the 23-year-old Russian stand out this year.

Afanasyev is a key special teams contributor for Milwaukee. His 6-foot-4, 204-pound frame makes him a bit of a nuisance on the penalty kill, and he leads the team with five short-handed goals and ranks second behind Joakim Kemell with four power-play goals — skills Brunette plans on exploiting.

“He’s going to kill some penalties, obviously he has [five] short-handed goals, and he’ll get some power-play time too, I think,” Brunette added. “We’ll ease him in a little bit here, but I’m looking forward to seeing him.”

Follow Michael Gallagher on X/Twitter @MGsports_

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