Update: Zharkov was taken 91st overall by Edmonton.
Position: Left Winger
Born: 02/06/94, St. Petersburg, Russia
NHL Central Scouting Rank: #32 North American Skater
Player Pages: NHL - EP - HF - OHL - Hf
As a potential third-round pick, Zharkov is a big, aggressive and physical winger. He has a good shot and he uses his hands to protect the puck well, but could stand to use his frame better to create space. He no qualms about going to the net hard and has the size to be taken seriously when he gets there. He has shown the willingness to fight on occasion, but doesn't take a lot of penalties otherwise. He has issues with putting forth a consistent effort every night, and his defense will need work. He has good technical passing ability, but he needs to learn to use his linemates better.
After missing the start of the season with a broken collarbone, Zharkov scored 23 goals and 36 points in 50 games for the Belleville Bulls of the OHL. He posted 9 of his goals on the powerplay, so he has good special teams ability. His -5 rating on the season was less than impressive, though there was a wide spread of +/- ratings on the team. His 25 penalty minutes included one fight. He posted 1 goal and 4 points in 6 OHL playoff games, a decent showing, but his -3 rating was less than impressive. He also posted 1 goal, 5 points, and a +3 rating in the World Under 18 Tournament where Russian finished 5th.
Zharkov projects to be a scoring forward in the NHL. He will probably spend most of his time as a second liner, but if he learns to put forth a more consistent effort and round out his defensive game, he has the skill and frame to find himself on a top scoring line in his prime. Chances are he'll be a good powerplay scorer, but don't look for him on the penalty kill.
Will the Capitals draft him?:
The Hockey News puts him at 49, but it stands to reason that a Russian prospect may drop a few spots to the Caps at 54. The Capitals have excelled at picking top Russian talent later in the draft as other teams pass them over. The Capitals have also taken a couple Russians lately who have spent time in the Canadian juniors, namely Dmitri Kugryshev and Stanislav Galiev, so the Capitals are quite likely to have their eye on him if he has already made the commitment to North America for two seasons now.
Plans for next season:
If the Capitals draft Zharkov, he will almost certainly spend one more season in the OHL before turning pro in the AHL in 2013-14. He will likely spend one full season in the AHL before getting an NHL look in 2014-15, but if he develops quickly and becomes more consistent, he could get an NHL look sooner. He probably won't get the chance to become an NHL regular until 2015.