Rasmus Dahlin is likely to be the top pick at this year’s NHL Entry Draft. However, there are a number of goal-starved teams in this year’s draft lottery who would love the services of Andrei Svechnikov. The Russian won’t be on the draft board for too long once Dahlin is taken.
Place of Birth: Barnaul, Russia
Position: Right Wing
Height: 6’3” Weight: 187 lbs
The younger brother of Detroit Red Wings’ forward Evgeny Svechnikov, Andrei lit the lamp as a rookie in the United States Hockey League scoring with 29 goals and 58 points during the 2016-17 season. After being drafted first overall in the CHL Import Draft in 2017, the youngster took his talents to the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League where he scored 40 goals and 72 points during the 2017-18 season. His goal tally was tied for eighth-best among OHL skaters.
Svechnikov also led all players with a near goal-a-game pace (0.91 G/GP) and in primary points per game (1.45 P1/GP), just a notch above St. Louis Blues’ prospect Jordan Kyrou. In fact, all but eight of his 72 points were primary points.
All this came despite playing only 44 games after suffering a hand injury. His efforts were good enough to give him the 2018 OHL Rookie of the Year award.
Among Svechnikov’s best assets are his quick trigger shot, whether it comes from the slot or from a tight angle. His shooting percentage was at 22.99 per cent this past season, sixth best among OHL forwards. Svechnikov, of course, led all shooters in the top 10 of shot rates in goals. In addition, he averaged nearly four shots a game this past season, which means he isn’t afraid to shoot. The forward is also able to create chances for other teammates while in the attacking zone, normally from along the half-wall or behind the net, making the right passes to teammates who have better chances to score.
Svechnikov’s size, great hands, and skating ability are also strengths for the 18-year old. He’s able to control the puck fearlessly and isn’t afraid to use his skill to sidestep defencemen.
His size and skill can also be useful when trying to draw penalties.
This is just a classic Svechnikov shift. Gains the line with possession, sets up a shot, bodies an opposing player off the puck to regain posssession, and then draws a penalty. pic.twitter.com/jDksrCySf3— Todd Cordell (@ToddCordell) December 11, 2017
Svechnikov can also speed through defencemen, and close in on goaltenders with his drives to the net.
While some suggest that Svechnikov is the clear number two prospect in the upcoming draft, the young Russian has drawn comparisons to fellow prospect Filip Zadina. They’re both wingers with noses for the net, as judged by their 40+ goal seasons in their respective junior leagues. Per 60 minutes, however, Svechnikov not only outpaces Zadina in scoring chances, but is a superior player in transition and in generating assists.
Finally tracked Barrie, so here's Andrei Svechnikov vs. Filip Zadina based on percentile rank within sample of 190 CHL forwards.— Mitch Brown (@MitchLBrown) April 24, 2018
Must say, I'm quite surprised that Svechnikov rated higher in transition & shot assists. pic.twitter.com/Ju5ZUiZdIz
If you’re wondering about player comparisons, names like Nikita Kucherov and Alexander Ovechkin have been thrown around. Svechnikov also admires the game of Toronto Maple Leafs centre Auston Matthews.
“I watch him a lot because when he takes the puck he makes a good choice,” said Svechnikov, a right wing for Barrie of the Ontario Hockey League. “It’s either a scoring choice or system choice, something that helps the team. He can protect the puck really well and has a lot of skill.” (NHL.com)
Future Considerations: 2
NHL Central Scouting (North American Skaters): 1
The Athletic (Scott Wheeler): 2
The Athletic (Corey Pronman): 4
Cam Robinson, Dobber Prospects
“A ridiculous near goal-per-game output in the OHL is just the tip of the iceberg for the dynamic winger. Was somewhat underutilized at the WJHC but found a way to make a difference most nights. A legitimate 40-plus goal threat not too far down the line.”
Dan Marr, Director of NHL Central Scouting
“Svechnikov plays a responsible game without the puck, has a strong stride with good top-end speed, good instincts at reading the play to set up or be open for chances,”
The Habs might need a puck-moving defenceman or a number one centre far more than a scoring winger, but don’t think that drafting Svechnikov doesn’t fill a need. The Canadiens ended the 2017-18 season with the third-worst offence in the league, averaging 2.52 goals a game. Of course, teams like Buffalo and Detroit also have just as porous offensively. They’d surely appreciate having Svechnikov on their team.
Drafting an NHL-ready prospect who can slot in a top six role immediately would benefit linemates like Jonathan Drouin and Alex Galchenyuk. He’s more than capable at moving and possessing the puck and at making successful zone entries as well.
Scouts seem to like Svechnikov’s defensive game as well, and maybe that will be enough for the Canadiens’ staff. But that still might not quell Habs fans’ fears, considering what fans have seen with players like Galchenyuk and a host of other first-rounders who’ve been cast aside after being underdeveloped and mishandled.
Oh, and he also has “personality”, whatever that means.
If the Canadiens find themselves fortunate enough to be at number two in this year’s draft, they needn’t look too far to find a player who can make an instant impact like Svechnikov.
All statistics courtesy Prospect-Stats.com and Mitch Brown. Video provided by David St. Louis