Andrei Svechnikov could be the Patrik Laine of the 2018 NHL Draft
In today’s NHL, goal scoring is extremely important. Teams look for scorers. The best way to add them is either through trades or the draft. By the time most players hit free agency, they have about three to four prime years left at best. The best goalscoring prospect in the 2018 NHL Draft is Russian forward Andrei Svechnikov.
At the 2016 NHL Draft, the Winnipeg Jets selected Patrik Laine with the second overall pick. Much like him, Svechnikov can score goals at a very impressive rate. And just like Laine, Andrei is likely going to go second in the draft.
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Height: 6’3″ (191 cm)
Weight: 187 pounds (85 kilograms)
Team: Barrie Colts (OHL)
Position: Right Wing
Date of birth: March 26, 2000
Statistics*: 41 games, 37 goals, 29 assists, 66 points, 60 penalty minutes.
WJC Statistics: 4 games, 4 goals, 4 assists, 8 points (U18); 5 games, 0 goals, 5 assists, 5 points (U20)
Average prospect ranking**: 2.25
*OHL stats are as of March 11, 2018
** Average prospect rankings are the collective average of a prospect’s rankings (McKeen’s, Hockey Prospect, Future Considerations, ISS Hockey)
As you can tell, Svechnikov can put the puck in the net. He does it at an extremely impressive rate. Svechnikov is averaging .902 goals per game this season, as of March 11. This puts him in the top 10 for the highest goals per game rate for a 17-year-old in OHL history.
There are some busts ahead of him, but anytime you’re scoring goals at a rate comparable to Steven Stamkos and Connor McDavid, you’re doing something right. It’s worth noting unlike those two, Svechnikov is a wing. If he was a center, he’d likely be in the discussion to be the first overall pick.
Svechnikov is a very physical player. He’s a bit like Alex Ovechkin in that regard. I’m not saying he’ll be as good as him, but their playing styles are pretty similar. They love to hit people and they love to score goals. Svechnikov also has NHL size at 6-foot-3 and a nice frame. He’ll have to beef up a little bit to sustain his physical brand of hockey in the upper levels, though.
He’s also a very nice passer, though he’s better at getting the puck in the net than dishing it. Svechnikov isn’t the most graceful skater, but he has a very powerful stride and is an above-average skater.
My biggest red flag for Svechnikov is his discipline. He’s overly physical to the point where he finds himself in the penalty box a bit too often. Svechnikov’s aggressiveness is one of the best parts of his game, though. It’ll be interesting to see if he can balance the yin and yang of being a physical force while still maintaining his aggressiveness.
Defensively, Svechnikov isn’t impressive. He struggles a bit in his own zone and probably won’t be killing penalties too much in the NHL. Then again, do you really want a guy who could score 30 goals regularly killing penalties?
As mentioned earlier, Svechnikov isn’t an elite skater. That tends to be what separates the elite players from the merely excellent ones. However, Svechnikov has the offensive ability to make up for his less than stellar skating.
He has everything you want to see in a top-tier forward prospect. No matter who drafts Svechnikov, it’s hard to see him not immediately be in the top three prospects of said franchise. Sure, he has some issues defensively. But Svechnikov has shown improvement there and his offensive abilities are off the charts.
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Player comparable: I hate putting this kind of pressure on a guy, but he feels like an Ovechkin-lite. Will Svechnikov be a generational goalscorer? Almost indefinitely not. But like Ovechkin, Svechnikov is going to score goals consistently and be a tank on the ice.
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