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Strategies at 16th Overall: Evgeny Svechnikov

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Next up in our list of potential targets at 16th overall is Russian-born QMJHLer Evgeny Svechnikov.

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Evgeny Svechnikov made quite an impression in his first season with the QMJHL's Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, scoring 32-46-78 in 55 regular season games—good for third on his team in scoring. In the previous season, he managed 14-13-27 in 29 games with Bars Kazan of the MHL. Already standing at six-foot-two and 201 lbs, he possesses great size to compliment his offensive skill-set at the leftwing position.

Rankings Breakdown

Ranked #17 by Hockeyprospect.com
Ranked #18 by ISS Hockey
Ranked #16 by Future Considerations
Ranked #23 by McKeen's Hockey
Ranked #17 by NHL Central Scouting (NA Skaters)
Ranked #18 by TSN/McKenzie

Courtesy of Elite Prospects

As you can see, the consensus has Svechnikov going somewhere in the middle portion of the first round on Friday, with McKeen's giving him the weakest endorsement at 23rd overall. Corey Pronman of ESPN (not included in the breakdown above) has him ranked highest at 9th. Most mock drafts floating around out there have Svechnikov still available to the Oilers at 16th, and while the actual draft always takes some unexpected turns, it's reasonable to think that the Russian winger will most likely be on the board when Katz' kid does his encore on Friday night.

According to Curtis Joe of Elite Prospects, offence is the name of the game for the Screaming Eagles standout:

"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."

Source.

"Could be better defensively" can often be the kiss of death for young offensive players entering the draft, but it's not an observation that comes up all that regularly in scouting reports. Furthermore, He was a plus player (+11) at the MHL level in 2013-2014 and in the QMJHL last season (+19). While plus/minus isn't a measure I put a lot of faith in, his +19 mark for Cape Breton led all players on the team, and defenceman Loik Leveille was the only player to come close at +14.

Still, it's in the offensive zone where Svechnikov makes his mark, and he's able to contribute there in multiple ways:

"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

Brendan Ross of McKeen's supports this in his summary of Svechnikov from their mid-season rankings:

Next to his draft peers, Svechnikov appears to be competing in a man-like frame – possessing both advantageous strength and power. He’s produced impressive QMJHL rookie numbers and it’s not a surprise given his silky smooth puck skills. Svechnikov’s puck handling  is particularly impressive in tight quarters where he dangles through legs and sticks with ease. His best quality is adaptability, knowing when to use his power game versus his skilled game. This two-way attacking ability only makes Svechnikov a more attractive prospect.

Source.

What sets Svechnikov apart from other wingers who may be available when the Oilers pick for the second time in the first round—players like Travis Konecny and Nick Merkely—is his size. The only other players the Oilers may be looking at who can compete with him in this regard are Paul Bittner and Timo Meier, and I fear the latter will be gone by then. As for Bittner, he didn't produce enough offence on a very talented Portland Winterhawks team to really pique my interest, and all major scouting services have him ranked below 16th (ISS had him at 17th).

So, in summary, if it's a large and dynamic offensively-oriented winger the organization is hoping for at 16th overall, then Svechnikov is a fine bet.

Evgeny Svechnikov Highlights