Born: March 26, 2000
Weight: 187 pounds
2017-2018 team: Barrie Colts
Andrei Svechnikov is without a doubt the best forward in this draft. He’s a power forward that has the ability to command play and really turn the game around for his team. He’s got it all. Great speed, hands, strength, hockey sense, shot, passing, defense, you name it. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a player with this skill set. Svechnikov is elite in so many categories, and can change a franchise immediately. He’s the #1 ranked North American skater and the consensus #2 pick in the upcoming draft.
The first thing that stands out to me is Svechnikov’s vision. He sees the ice on a completely different level, and is always three steps ahead. He looks for a pass, finds an open lane before it even opens up, and cuts through defenders exceptionally. He’s the kind of player that can find ways to generate any kind of offense, whether it’s a goal or an assist. His 72 points in 44 games in the OHL this season show scouts that he’s ready for the NHL. Svechnikov has a quick shot and a great release, allowing him to get shots off quickly. It’s accurate, and one of the many reasons why he’s such an elite player. His ability to take the pass on the tape and immediately make a move with it to create space is unparalleled. He’s always thinking about what’s next, and it makes him such a dangerous player. His hand-eye coordination is elite as well. He’s going to be able to park himself in front of the net for greasy goals and tip-in goals, making him even more of a threat. Teams can use him in any situation and he’ll adapt to it almost immediately. We’ve seen a lot of wrong opinions on the Hurricanes claiming that what they really need is grit. It’s going to sound cliche, but goals win you games. Hitting people and spending five minutes in the box for fighting doesn’t win you games, just ask the USA World Cup of Hockey team. The Canes have needed an elite scoring forward to help Jeff Skinner for years now, and they finally have the opportunity to draft the best forward in the draft. Don’t draft a grinder who can score a few goals here and there and just be a pest. You have that already. You don’t have an elite power forward who can lift your team above the hump and get you back into the playoffs. You can’t win with a team of Brock McGinn’s. You’ll fight a lot and hit the post a lot, but that’s about it. Svechnikov is on a different level than Zadina, Tkachuk, and Wahlstrom. He plays the game at such an elite level, and will chance the makeup of a team right away. End rant.
Back to scouting. Svechnikov works really well in close, and can score from some really tough angles. His backhand is good, and he uses that to tap in rebounds a lot. You want a tough guy? Svechnikov is tough. He still has some weight to put on, but is incredibly strong on the puck and can work his way past defenders to get a shot or pass off. He can make passes through three defenders, and do so with just a quick glance. I have to go back to his shot for a second. It’s lightning fast, and goalies barely have time to react to it. Is he going to be the next Kucherov? It’s possible. He’s got an elite skillset that only few players possess. He doesn’t emulate any particular forward, but I see some comparisons to Kucherov and Tarasenko. He’s got the strength and shot quality that Tarasenko has, and he’s got Kucherov’s ability to score from any angle imaginable. Svechnikov has some of the quickest hands in this draft. He can gather the puck, deke, and score all within a second. His reaction time is elite. He knows exactly when his teammates will shoot, and knows where the rebound will be. If he doesn’t score on the rebound, he’ll make an effort to tap in his own rebound. It seems like his go-to move for entering the zone is to come in on the wing with speed, cut around a defender while protecting the puck on his backhand, and then tucking the puck around the goalie’s pad. It’s worked wonders for him in the OHL, and his speed could help it work wonders for him in the NHL as well. Even if that’s his go-to move, Svechnikov has the ability to score in so many different ways. His shot has great elevation in close, and he can tuck a shot in just over the goalie’s shoulder from less than three feet out.
All in all, Svechnikov is without a doubt the best forward in this draft. He plays a complete game, and can lift any franchise over the top. I love his shooting ability, and he could be a powerful right winger for a long time in this league. Imagine a Skinner-Necas-Svechnikov line. Necas could feed Skinner and Svechnikov passes, and the Canes could finally have two elite scoring line. I’ll hopefully have more notes on Svechnikov in the next couple weeks as well as some other draft profiles for you all to enjoy. Is there a player you want to hear about? Maybe someone that you don’t know a whole lot about? Let me know, and I’ll do a prospect profile on them!