So Craig Button released his mock draft for TSN, presumably by shouting it from across the room at an intern (seriously, the guy on televised drafts has the same kind of vocal volume control as veterans of artillery squadrons.), and he threw a bit of a curveball in the form of our first Russian prospect; Fyodor Svechkov as being who he thinks the Bruins would pick. So let’s try and figure his rationale on this young man, and why he thinks there’s a chance Svechkov could become a choice for the Black and gold.
Svechkov is a feel good story if ever there was one: came up through his hometown club of LADA Togliatti, played wonderfully at every level so far, got to wear the Russian Red for the U18 World Juniors and will almost certainly do so next year for the regular WJCs, and finally ended up with a contract to play in the big city of St. Petersburg for the KHL’s equivalent of the Crimson Tide football team next year. And Svechkov has done this all by being one of Russia’s premiere defensive prospects, rather than the usual modern idea of a Russian player being score-first.
Svechkov’s defensive acumen is such that it’s honestly quite surprising that SKA St. Petersburg didn’t try to snipe this young guy sooner, because he reads opposing forechecks with the kind of acumen normally reserved for Norris candidate blueliners or the KHL’s idea of a Selke award (I could not find it on their website but I’m sure it’s there). His stick-work is superb, pursuing the puck carrier and being able to effectively cut down plays before they even get a chance to happen, forcing the opponent to have to take low-danger shots if they even get them off at all. Indeed, his ability to read plays is what makes him such a pain in the rear to play against, as it forces players to try forced shots and forced opportunities that he will absolutely try and block or turnover. And if you turn the puck over on him? Big mistake. Svechkov’s acceleration and skating are very good in transition, able to turn a defensive zone stand into a scoring chance at the drop of a hat or poorly placed puck. Top that off with a strong faceoff acumen and a willingness to put pucks on scoring sticks? And you got a player who will put you in a great place to win a game.
Of course, when you’re that good at defense, something has to give on the offensive side of the puck. Svechkov is not an especially creative forward in the offensive zone. He’s a good puck carrier, and he’s able to keep possession and fight to retain it, but he’s not exactly a high-skill type of player who’s able to get high-danger chances from anywhere on the ice, only really getting his tallies in the high-danger “Home plate” area of the Slot-High Slot. This ordinarily is fine if he’s willing to go there, and for the most part he is, but he also shows a real lack of patience in the zone, preferring to just blast it from wherever, regardless of whether or not he’s got a lane to do it. Further, his skating needs at least a little work in order to truly be ready for the NHL game; He’s undeniably fast and accelerates quickly, but you can see in the clips that when he has to start moving laterally, it’s noticeably much slower and choppier than his end-to-end skating, which can seriously impact his ability to either keep a play going or evade backcheckers. Drafting him will mean parking him at the skating coach’s door with a plan to improve that immediately.
Svechkov’s rankings are all over the place. Most really appreciate that he’s fast and does defense really well, but his otherwise moribund offense means that teams who want more of a scoring punch from their first rounders might shy away from him. Further, drafting him has the same issue has any russian prospect, and not in the “hurr dee durr rooskie no care” way, and more in the “KHL wants me to pay my contract out” sort of way, which can seriously impact their ability to get to North America.
Personally, I like the idea of Svechkov, but I also think that drafting guys who will at best seem to max out as a middle line center is probably not the way Don should want to draft with his best Center currently being 35. He does seem to be an intriguing player, and definitely fits the mold of “Boston Bruins” hockey, however, so if it came to it, I wouldn’t be especially mad about him being picked 20th overall.
Join us next Monday as the as we go from Russia to the Czech Republic, Finland, Sweden, as well as a discussion on European prospects and how to best try to mentally evaluate them! See you then!
- 16th by EliteProspects’ Consolidated Rankings
- 13th by EliteProspects
- 18th by FC Hockey
- 41st by McKeen’s Hockey
- 6th by NHL Central Scouting among European Skaters
- 13th by SportsNet
- 37th by Recruit Scouting
- 17th by Dobber Prospects
- 9th by Smaht Scouting
- 30th by TSN (McKenzie)
- 20th by TSN (Button)
|2017-18||LADA Togliatti U16||Russian U16||15||8||8||16||8|
|2018-19||LADA Togliatti U16||Russian U16||3||0||1||1||0|
|LADA Togliatti U18||Russian U18||26||16||27||43||24|
|2019-20||LADA Togliatti U18||Russian U18||2||1||2||3||0|