DETROIT, MICH -- For the seventh year in a row, the Detroit Red Wings have selected a forward in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft. After taking the organization's top prospect in 2014 with Dylan Larkin, the Red Wings have selected Russian-born Evgeny Svechnikov with the 19th overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.
It was somewhat of a milestone draft year for the Detroit Red Wings. Not only did they pick zero Swedish players for the first time in over 22 years, Evgeny Svechnikov became the highest Russian player to be drafted by the Red Wings in club history. When I asked him if he knew this, he gave me this reaction:
The answer was no, obviously, but the look on this kid's face is priceless. It was a big day for him, his family, and Russian hockey as a whole.
So what can we expect from Evgeny? He's likely going to be playing with the QMJHL's Cape Breton Screaming Eagles next season. Svechnikov is equal parts playmaker, and equal parts goal-scorer. He's another one of those players who when he is on the ice, good things are happening.
We're putting together a group of forwards who will hopefully form a nucleus of a group of players that we will have for a number of years.
The Red Wings have taken three potential top-six forwards over the last three years in Anthony Mantha, Dylan Larkin, and Evgeny Svechnikov. While the looming concern is on the blue line, you can't complain with all of the potent offense they have added to their system.
When asked who his favorite player growing up was, Svechnikov said he has always loved Evgeni Malkin.
People say I am like him, it is best to hear that.
There have been some comparisons to Svechnikov and Malkin. While I'm hesitant to make that comparison, I believe that if Svechnikov can keep making progress with transitioning from wing to center, he could very well end up being that sort of a player.
What are other people saying?
STRENGTHS: Svechnikov is a talented power forward with an attractive blend of size and skill. He has great puck control, which allows him to use his reach to protect the puck while still making plays in motion. Svechnikov is an excellent skater with a long and efficient stride. He edges very nicely and his weight transfer is textbook. All this allows him to change directions very rapidly and he can juke defenders out of position with ease. Great balance and strong on his feet; hard to knock off the puck and hard to poke check. He is extremely athletic. Shows high-end, top-notch puck protection skills; able to drive into the zone and slow down the play to look for openings or to play along the boards and keep the cycle moving. Great feel for the puck and able to make quick and effective
plays in a split second. He is a silky stick handler and shows remarkable control of the puck away from his body. Svechnikov has solid offensive awareness and good instincts around the net. He possesses a heavy shot with very little windup and he is skilled at getting himself open for the one-timer. Not afraid to get into the dirty areas and battle. While a power forward, he
is a new age one like a Rick Nash and prefers to use his size and reach to create a distance between the puck and opponents as opposed to punishing players physically or intimidating his opponent. Relies more on a skill/protection style of play. Defensively, he is solid, but not overly effective as he is always looking to jump at the first sign of an offensive rush. He isn’t
a liability, though. When he gets going he is tough to stop and his ability to beat you with force or skill is impressive. He seems destined for a top line role at the NHL level and has the potential to be a dominant and dynamic star.
WEAKNESSES: Defensively, he tries to come back and stay within arm’s reach of his man but his presence is not exactly felt in his own zone. He seems to like taking longer than optimal shifts, some of which have hit 2 minutes in length at times this past season and he has got caught on the ice being too tired to make a defensive play. That type of individual play will not fly at an NHL training camp and might
be the reason he gets sent back to junior. The guy has the skills to be a top 10 talent, but being Russian, there is that scare factor of competing foreign leagues poaching him in his prime and after millions of dollars have been invested in his development. No NHL teams want to deal with agents who have real leverage.
But skill-wise, Svechnikov is up there with the best.
SCOUTS QUOTE: "At the Q level he is a man amongst boys and he is incredibly tough to knock off the puck. While Svechnikov is already a dan- gerous player I think he still has a lot of room to grow. He still has some bad habits, and he could be a more consistent offensive force. Overall I think Svechnikov has both the tools and potential to warrant a high selection and if he continues to pile up the points, the sky is the limit."
NHL POTENTIAL: Top-Six Offensive Winger
Evgeny is a multi-faceted winger who is as capable of finishing a play as he is making one. A strong skater who threatens defenders and creates chances with an explosive step but can back them off and use space to make a play. He’s difficult to defend because he can beat you in multiple ways. Closer to NHL than most players.
NHL Comparable: Max Pacioretty
TSN Director of Scouting Craig Button:
2015 Rank: 17th
Compete Level: 4/5
Prone to taking the odd bad penalty and banging his stick on the ice for a pass (Leafs fans are used to watching Nazem Kadri call for passes), Svechnikov can get caught up in the heat of the moment, likely because he knows he's bigger and stronger than most QMJHL players.
Could still learn to hang onto the puck more and delve away from the give-and-go, on-and-off style he can fall into playing. He's so gifted with the puck that that shouldn't be hard to teach.
With a little fine tuning in the defensive zone -- common among gifted forwards -- and some bulk to his relatively raw frame, Svechnikov has all the tools to be an impact top-six winger at the next level.
What can we expect?
Overall, Evgeny Svechnikov is a guy who lives, breathes, and eats hockey. The Svechnikov family is from a Russian island, which is actually located closer to Tokyo than it is to Moscow. Evgeny's family has followed the sport wherever it has gone, and what we have here is a player dedicated to the game itself. After meeting Evgeny this weekend and speaking with him about being picked at 19th overall, I can tell you right now that the smile on his face says it all. He's a smart hockey mind who could potentially form into a high-octane NHL power forward.
Highlights of how awesome Evgeny Svechnikov is:
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