Tales of Ivan Miroshnichenko’s wicked shot are often exaggerated.
Like when on a visit to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. earlier this week, Washington Capitals goaltender Mitchell Gibson encountered a Japanese Type 93 torpedo — a nine-meter long projectile that was not only one of the largest torpedos in use during World War II, but one of the fastest.
“[It’s like] stopping Ivan’s shots,” Gibson quipped. “Basically the same thing.”
Here’s Ivan Miroshnichenko (63) from today. Played fast, hustled hard. My first time seeing him in person and I came away very impressed. pic.twitter.com/OOhshrVQZb
— Jared Serre (@JaredSerre) September 17, 2023
During the team’s rookie camp, which concluded Tuesday, Gibson found himself on the receiving end of a handful of those shots. But as they wizzed past him — “You didn’t score on me today,” Gibson chirped at the 19-year-old — its apparent that, despite mirroring urban legend, the hype around Miroshnichenko’s scoring ability is far from hyperbole.
“He can really shoot the puck,” Capitals assistant general manager Ross Mahoney said Sunday.
Miroshnchenko’s offensive prowess is not a new development. After all, it’s a major reason why, in the run up to the 2022 draft, he was viewed in many circles as a potential top-10 draft choice. The Russian winger was far from dominant during his first two seasons with teams in his home country, but it was clear that the potential for more was there.
The Capitals, picking at No. 20, didn’t expect Miroshnichenko to be available when the team went on the clock, but a diagnosis of Hodgkin’s lymphoma led other teams to stay away.
“Hoping, fingers were crossed under the table, nobody could see that,” Mahoney said at the draft. “You don’t know, especially when you have a player rated as high as we did. I think going into the season he would’ve been rated quite higher in a lot of people’s minds.”
Miroshnichenko was cleared to return to the ice in June 2022, but that was just the first step on a long road back to form. Months earlier, he met Mahoney at the under-18 World Championships and his blue jeans barely hung on his hips.
Now, it’s safe to say that Miroshnichenko is back. He suited up in 23 games for the KHL’s Omsk Avangard last season before participating in July’s Capitals development camp. Starting Thursday, he’ll participate in his first training camp with the team.
But even with his health trending in the right direction, there have been more hurdles for Miroshnichenko to clear. When he came to development camp — his first such event in the United States — the language barrier was very real, resulting in fellow Russian Alexander Suzdalev and Bogdan Trineyev often being paired with in order to help translate.
How’s his English now?
“It’s getting there,” Suzdalev said.
Luckily for Miroshnichenko, talent transcends language barriers.
“This young man can put the puck in the net,” Mahoney said at the 2022 draft, not just at his age group but he will do it in the NHL.”