Although forward Andrei Svechnikov is rated as the #2 prospect overall, there is still a small chance he will be available for Montreal to select with their third pick. Carolina has the second pick in the draft and GM Don Waddell told the media recently that Svechnikov is at the top of their list. However, NHL GMs often bluff or provide misinformation before the draft starts for strategic reasons. Andrei is listed as a right winger and has the versatility to play centre too, an ability that may be very attractive to the Habs when they announce their selection in Dallas on June 22.
Position: Right Wing
DOB: March 26, 2000
Weight: 192 lbs
NHL Central Scouting: 1 (NA Skaters)
Hockey Prospect: 2
ISS Hockey: 2
TSN (Craig Button): 2
TSN (Bob McKenzie): 2
Future Considerations: 2
McKeen’s Hockey: 2
Before the 2017-18 hockey season started, Svechnikov and Rasmus Dahlin were expected to be the top two competitors for the 2018 NHL Draft’s first-overall pick. Andrei got off to a hot start with 10 goals and four assists in his first 10 games, before suffering a hand injury that knocked him out of the lineup for the next 22 games. After returning he continued his torrid scoring pace, then producing five goals and six assists in eight playoff games.
Andrei has a hybrid style, part power forward, part finesse forward. He is a strong skater who is capable of skating through defenders or driving the net for a scoring opportunity. He can also change speeds well to deceive a defender and gain a better position to make a play or stickhandle. His shooting skills are top of the class, with soft hands to distribute and receive a pass easily. Svechnikov’s hockey sense is excellent as he anticipates the play well in all three zones of the ice. If his coach wanted him to shift from the wing to centre, he has the ability to do it successfully. Andrei’s five-on-five offensive output was the best among draft-eligible players in the CHL, to help illustrate how dynamic an offensive player he is without the help of the power play to pad his stats.
At the NHL Combine, among the 100+ draft-eligible players invited, Andrei performed very well. He scored in the top 25 in eleven out of twenty categories measuring different physical capabilities. His older brother Evgeny is a prospect with Detroit who drafted him 19th overall in 2015. With him being three years ahead of Andrei and nearly 25 pounds heavier, it’s possible that Andrei could physically mature some more to help him compete better against older NHL players. When it comes to comparing Svechnikov to an NHL player, Jamie Benn plays a very close style.
Svechnikov was outstanding as a 16-year-old in 2016-17 in the USHL, where he dominated that league. His assault on OHL goaltenders showed he progressed perfectly at the next level in 2017-18. I predict he is ready to step into an NHL lineup immediately for 2018-19. He already has pro size along with his offensive weapons which will help him adjust quickly to the NHL style.