This was Evgeny Svechnikov's first year in the QMJHL, and it sure was impressive, especially since we know that rookies tend to have more upside, something that probably balances out concerns about Svechnikov's relatively advanced age. Bob McKenzie has Svechnikov ranked 18th overall, which is a pretty representative placing. I have him a little higher than that, and would be quite pleased if he was available when the Oilers were picking 16th overall.
A quick look at Svechnikov's comparables will help to demonstrate why this might be a real player of interest. In this case, a comparable player was someone who played his draft year in the CHL, had an adjusted goals per game rate between 0.47 and 0.57 and adjusted points per game rate between 1.21 and 1.48 (90% to 110% of Svechnikov's production), and was selected somewhere between 13th and 23rd overall. Here are the results:
It's a very impressive list. The other CHL rookies on the list are Sven Baertschi, Joe Sakic, and Claude Giroux. We know that this list is encouraging, but to give a good sense of just how encouraging I've listed each player's number of regular season games, his time on ice per game (if the NHL was recording TOI for more than half of the games he played), his points per game, and the first season he played in at least forty games in the chart below:
It's an impressive group. There is at least one warning (and maybe two, depending on whether or not you think Baertschi's story is mostly written), but the other players all had very good NHL careers, and a couple of them have been well beyond that.
Now, this list of players looks much better than what we saw when I profiled Timo Meier, even though Meier's rates are better and his projected draft number higher. I don't think that's anything more than an oddity of the system, but I think it's good to remember that when considering Svechnikov's downside; the chart here likely understates it. The boom/bust feel is only enhanced by looking at a few scouting reports. Shawn Reznik's is particularly illuminating:
A bit one-dimensional, Svechnikov is looked to mainly for his scoring threat. In the Cape Breton games I've seen this year, I expected him to be able to use his body more against opponents. He used his frame to protect the puck, but rarely did I see him fight in board battles. His defensive game has many holes. Evgeny Svechnikov may be a one trick pony, but if you're looking for that one trick to be offense, he is definitely worth taking a gamble.
In other words, this is a player with excellent offensive tools and some significant holes in his game. I tend to be pretty risk averse, so I'd have him below the other forwards profiled so far, but as those top comparables show, if Svechnikov puts everything together, he could have a tremendous NHL career.
Next up this afternoon: Zach Werenski
Introduction to Comparables
Connor McDavid - Comparables
Jack Eichel - Comparables
Mitch Marner - Comparables
Dylan Strome - Comparables
Ivan Provorov - Comparables
Noah Hanifin - Comparables
Jeremy Roy - Comparables
Timo Meier - Comparables
Lawson Crouse - Comparables
Jakub Zboril - Comparables