Players get drafted for many different reasons. Some use work-rate to overpower a perceived lack of skill, others have a combination of size and power, some have great hands, some have a great shot.
In modern hockey, though, we hear a lot of phrases like "200-foot-player" and "defensively responsible" though. To be a top draft prospect, the rationale goes, you have to be skilled at both ends of the ice as an outskater. The one-way forward is, apparently, dying, or expected to drop down the draft rankings sharply.
But very few make a draft case out of doing one-way play as effectively or loudly as Cape Breton's Yevgeniy Svechnikov. The 6'3, 205lb Russian forward is only 18, but has already effectively played at a pro level for two years before coming to America as he played at the 2nd level in Russia for AK Bars Kazan's development squad, scoring 45 points in 62 games as a 16/17 year-old.
This season, in his draft year, he's been raising hell in QMJHL defences, scoring 78 points (32+46) in 55 games in his first season adjusting to the North American game. He finished the season 2nd in QMJHL rookie scoring, and may be one of the best pure scorers in the draft. Combine that with very useful size in 6'3 and 205lbs and remember that Svechnikov was playing in a league and style that he was unfamiliar with, and you can see why some scouts are licking their lips and there's speculation already that he could be one of the steals in the draft.
The main thing about the native of Neftegorsk, Russia that is exciting scouts is his pure goalscoring potential...Svechnikov's shot is hard and deadly accurate both standing still and off the rush...his fluid, rangy skating style means he's rarely beaten for speed, either. His skating and vicious wrist-shot are both shown to good effect in this hat-trick against Saint-John and fellow draft prospects Jakub Zboril and Thomas Chabot:
His positioning in the offensive zone and hands are both top-quality, too. In terms of skills, Svechnikov is possibly a top-5 draft pick.
However, the knock on him comes when going the other way. The Russian is very much a one-way player at this point...his offensive acumen is second-to-none but defensively his game, as they say, "needs a little work"-in the same way that a house with no roof, windows or door "needs a little work". He's also not overly physical for his size, preferring to rely on his movement, vision, excellent hockey brain/anticipation and vicious shot to earn his ice-time. He will use strength to hold players off, but if you're looking for a power forward rather than a pure sniper, go elsewhere. This will likely put off several teams.
If it does, they're selling the Russian very short, particularly if picking in the teens or early 20s..
Ranked in the 17-23 range by most scouting services, Svechnikov is a very interesting option for a team in the mid-range of the draft and a tempting safety net to dangle for teams looking to trade down and possibly add a little extra value for their higher first round pick.
He's not the finished product by any means, and there is some risk in that his defensive game will need massive improvement (or a very willing two-way linemate) for him to contribute effectively at NHL or possibly even AHL level...he's the very stereotype of an "enigmatic Russian" in attitude, too, with some scouts pointing out that he will often "go missing" for several shifts a period. But he's an agile, skilled winger with a pro-calibre shot already who, given a year or two of development and a little patient defensive coaching, could be one of the steals of this or many other drafts. Top-6 goalscoring forward is very much a reachable role-he'd be ideal for a team looking to grow its young core on the wing, because in pure offensive ability alone, there are few better in the draft.
If your team takes him, then he'll likely be more than worth waiting a little while for.