Currently in his first pro season with the AHL's San Antonio Rampage after signing his entry-level deal with the Colorado Avalanche last summer, Sergei Boikov is living up to the promise he had shown in Juniors, where he was known as "The Corporal" and helped Team Russia bring home the silver medal at the 2016 World Juniors with his swift skating and board-shaking hits.
There used to be a thought that his ceiling would be as high as Niklas Kronwall's - and he was a man among children with the LHJMQ's Drummondville Voltigeurs - but I've always seen his NHL potential as that of an Alexei Emelin, which in and of itself is not bad at all.
The hits may not show up as often in his rookie season - be that next season or the following one - but they will in time; it did take him a good month to stop being shy about physical contact on adults in the AHL this year, after all. His positioning is also almost NHL-ready, which means on a team like the Avs, where talent is thin on the blue line, he may get his chance at a roster spot earlier than later.
In due time (within the next five years), he should be a regular top-4 defender, one possibly looking at a shut-down role in the final minutes, with ample penalty-killing time. Some of the smaller forwards will even go out of their way to avoid facing him, opting to enter the zone on the other defenseman's side instead.
Unfortunately for him, he won't get to see his dream come true - playing against Pavel Datsyuk seems improbable now that The Magician is playing in the KHL - but perhaps he can play with him if the NHL decides not to send its players to the 2018 Olympics...
In any event, here's Boikov wearing the Voltigeurs' white (home) uniform from In The Game's 2013-14 Heroes And Prospects set and CHL Rookie sub-set: