2015 Sabres Draft Profiles: Evgeny Svechnikov
Svechnikov has the potential to be a top winger in the NHL, but will his defense get in the way?
Weight: 200 lbs.
Current Team: Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (QMJHL)
Central Scouting Ranking: 17 (North America)
ISS Ranking: 18
As one Russian-born player drafted out of the CHL may be leaving the Sabres organization, could another enter? Svechnikov may be a bit one dimensional, but when that one dimension in scoring, you can really pique teams' interest.
Svechnikov crossed the Atlantic this year to play in the QMJHL, and he was a valuable asset to Cape Breton. He scored 32 goals and 46 assists in 55 games, second among rookies in the league. In the playoffs he was a point a game pace, setting a franchise record for assists by a rookie in a single game with three.
His offensive outbursts this year are no fluke. The year prior he scored 27 points in 29 games in the top junior level of Russian hockey. He played three games in the KHL two seasons before he was draft eligible, but failed to record a point. At the 2013 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge he scored seven goals and added one assist in six games.
He's a smooth skater, has a great shot and seems to use his size and long reach to his advantage without being overly physical. His 6'2" size has to be considered a huge perk for many GMs. He's truly the complete offensive package, at least as much as you could ask from an 18-year-old. He's a play maker and a scorer all wrapped in one.
His gifts for understanding the offensive end of the ice doesn't exactly translate to defense however, which is the big downside to his game. No one seems to question his work ethic, and scouts say he is working on understanding where he needs to be in space. Despite this fault, he's considered one of the more NHL ready prospects in the second-tier of the draft.
He's projected to go somewhere in the late teens or early 20's, so it's not unreasonable to think there's a chance he's still available when the Sabres make their selection. The Sabres are in need of reinforcements at the wing, and a top scorer would look very nice with one of the Sabres blue chip centers.
However, the defensive issues may have some second guessing, as this is a team that has gone through incredible struggles on that end from Cody Hodgson recently. Tim Murray could also fall for the Russian factor as well, especially with the Mikhail Grigorenko news floating around and the issues the team has had with Nikita Zadorov last season. I know there are still readers livid he opted for Brendan Lemieux over Ivan Barbashev.
What They're Saying
"Incredibly skilled offensive winger. Has a remarkably accurate shot to go along with some magic hands. Could be better defensively, but his game is based around his acute sense of what is happening on the ice in the offensive zone. All-in-all, a deadly player who possesses good size, elite-level skill, and smooth skating."
-Curtis Joe, Elite Prospects
"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."
-Craig Button, TSN
"A powerful and skilled forward…has great strength and balance on his skates…decent speed and agility, but not a real burner…has the creativity and hands to skate the puck through defenders and then power his way to the net…has a heavy shot that when it hits its mark, is pro caliber…uses his strength and long reach to protect the puck well…not much of a defensive game at this point…goes through long stretches where he is ineffective or downright invisible…can be physical, but also undisciplined…has great upside, but some bust potential as well."
"The Russian import exhibited a compelling blend of power and skill, validating his stock as a second-tier commodity that a team will scoop up to fortify their top-line wing depth. Virtually every individual tool you can ask for is present in the 18-year-old offensive package. He has a long, strong skating stride. He displays top-notch puck control that allows him to stickhandle his way through defenders. His shot is quick and accurate."
-Kris Baker, Sabres Prospects
"He proved to be a very skilled skater, strong on the puck and a player capable of doing a lot of things well. He plays a physical game, doesn't back away, is aggressive on the forecheck and finishes checks."
-Troy Dumville, NHL Central Scouting