Russian defenceman Daniil Sobolev has committed to the Windsor Spitfires for the 2020-21 season.
More than two months after the Spitfires made the 17-year-old Sobolev the 32nd pick overall in the first round of Canadian Hockey League Import Draft, the club signed him to a standard player agreement.
“We were comfortable that when we selected Danill that he would ultimately be a Spitfire,” Windsor general manager Bill Bowler said. “Anytime you make an import selection, there’s always work to do. We were thrilled to be able to draft him and now we’re ecstatic that he’s signed.”
The club lost overage defenceman Thomas Stevenson to graduation and defenceman Ruben Rafkin opted to return home to Finland to play pro hockey. Sobolev helps to fill Windsor’s void on the back end along with Michael Renwick, who was acquired in June from the Hamilton Bulldogs.
“We’ll be patient with Daniil, but knowing his ability, and what he’s capable of, I’m confident he’ll step in and make an impact,” Bowler said.
The Spitfires first took notice of Sobolev when he was 15-year-old playing on Russia’s under-17 team at the Four Nations Cup in Plymouth, Mich.
The 6-foot, 209-pound Sobolev spent last season with Spartak Moskva in the Russian junior league and had two goals and six points in 48 games. International Scouting Services has him rated in its top 15 among European players for the 2021 NHL Draft.
“There’s no rush on Daniil,” Bowler said. “It’s a big year for him. He’s a rated NHL prospect, so there are expectations for him, but every player develops differently.”
With his size, Bowler isn’t worried about the right-shot defenceman finding his game.
“He’ll be a good two-way player,” Bowler said. “He uses his physicality when needed.”
For now, Sobolev has been training and working out on his own back home in Russia while finishing up his paperwork for his visa to play in Canada, but that should not prevent him from being in Windsor at some point in November when training camp dates are officially announced leading up to the Ontario Hockey League’s proposed Dec. 1st starting date.
“I am very excited to have been signed by the Windsor Spitfires,” Sobolev said through an interpreter. “I look forward to making an impact with the team this season.”