|Author: Evgeny Belashchenko (RP Exclusive)||Date: 07/08/2004
|RussianProspects Exclusive Post NHL Entry Draft Interview with Mikhail Yunkov|
|Mikhail Yunkov was the final member of U18 Team Russia’s dynamic Radulov-Yunkov-Voloshenko
second line to be selected at the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. The Washington Capitals
picked him late in the second round with their 62nd overall selection. Known as
a playmaker and a defensive specialist, the young forward was very good at making
room for his offensively minded linemates. His offensive production was not as
impressive as that of Radulov or Voloshenko, but Russia’s second line would
be nowhere without Yunkov’s stabilizing presence and defensive play. Mikhail
Yunkov was projected to be a second round selection for most of the 2003-04 season,
but his draft stock did take a bit of a hit when he began to struggle towards
the end of his first professional season with the Soviet Wings in the High League
(Russia 2). RussianProspects.com shifted his draft projection from the middle
to the end of the second round, while some scouting agencies even projected him
to go as low as the third round. Fortunately for Yunkov, the Capitals used one
of their multiple second round picks to add depth at center, drafting the talented
RussianProspects.com correspondent Evgeny Belashchenko caught up with Mikhail
Yunkov after he was selected by the Washington Capitals.
RP: This has been a pretty big year for you. You had a very good season
with the Soviet Wings, and the U18 national team, centering the highly successful
line between Alexander Radulov and Roman Voloshenko. Did you sit together with
them here at the draft or talk to them at all before today regarding the draft?
Mikhail Yunkov: Today I sat separate from them with my parents. But we
did talk about the draft earlier, discussing who expected to go in which round.
They both were hoping to get selected in either the first or the second round.
I am sure they were hoping to get drafted as high as possible (laughing).
RP: During your interview with the Washington Capitals, did you notice
any indicators that the club wanted to draft you or were you surprised that they
M. Yunkov: They were clearly interested in me. I had an interview with
Washington while I was in Toronto for the pre-draft fitness tests. They asked
very good questions and sometimes even complimented me. So, it was not a big surprise
to me that the Capitals selected me.
RP: You are often considered to be a playmaking center. Do you agree with
this assessment of your playing style? Can you compare your style to anyone in
M. Yunkov: I don’t really have much of an opportunity to watch
the NHL, but I was told by a Phoenix representatives that my style resembles that
of Ron Francis, who currently plays for Toronto. I try to play equally well on
offense and defense. I do consider myself to be a playmaker, but I would also
consider myself to be more of a defensive forward.
RP: What do you know about Washington D.C.?
M. Yunkov: I don’t know much about Washington. I know it’s
the capital of the US. (laughing) I hoped that they would pick me, as they said
some very nice things about me. Other than that I don’t know anything else
about that city.
RP: Did you every have an opportunity to play with Alexander Ovechkin
or Alexander Semin, who are both Washington’s recent picks out of Russia
and will likely play with you when you join the club?
M. Yunkov: I never had an opportunity to play with them. However, my
brother, who currently plays in Podolsk, had a chance to play with Ovechkin when
they were both in Dynamo Moscow’s system. I never had a chance to play with
either one of them though.
RP: Is this your first time in North America?
M. Yunkov: No, I already visited North America four times – I visited
Boston, Pittsburgh and Quebec before. So, I’ve been here a few times. I
really like it, it’s great over here!
RP: What are your plans for next season?
M. Yunkov: I am not sure what my plans are for next season, but I will
probably remain with the Soviet Wings. It’s not for certain yet, but most
likely I will remain with the Wings.
RP: What are your impressions regarding the pre-draft fitness tests in
M. Yunkov: The medical fitness tests were very challenging. I’d
single out the bike test as the most difficult one. Besides that, the people were
really kind, making me comfortable and helping me to pick up some more English.
RP: How is your English coming along?
M. Yunkov: I am learning it whenever I get a chance. I think I will have
a better grasp of it soon.
RP: Did you have any expectations coming into the draft as far as when
you would be selected?
M. Yunkov: Things turned out as I expected. It would have been amazing
if I was selected in the first round, but I expected to be picked up either in
the second or third round.
RP: What are you plans for the remainder of the summer? Are you staying
in North America, and are you planning on attending the Washington Capitals training
M. Yunkov: I don’t think so. I am leaving for Russia shortly to
join the Soviet Wings for the preseason.
RP: When is the preseason starting?
M. Yunkov: It’s already starting on the 28th of June. I will be
a couple of days late, as I will be departing from North America in a couple of
days on either the 28th or the 29th of june.
- Evgeny Belashchenko
Related Player Profiles: . M.Yunkov
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