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2021 NHL Draft: Fyodor Svechkov can fit the Wild like a glove

The Russian forward is described as an elite defensively-minded center.

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2021 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championships - Final Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Sometimes a team just feels right for a player and sometimes it is just based off of recent draft selections. Just last year, the Minnesota Wild — led by director of amateur scouting Judd Brackett for the first time — drafted a couple forwards that profiled as strong two-way competitors that can chip in a dynamic way. Marco Rossi and Marat Khusnutdinov are two players that are now rising in prospect rankings and seen as steals for where they were selected. This year, Fyodor Svechkov is kind of the same player.

Svechkov certainly doesn’t hold the same reputation as Rossi did at this point last year, but he has some insane natural abilities to see plays form and read offenses clear as day, to then disrupt them. He displays immense intelligence while on the ice and that kind of makes up for any lack of counting stats you have during his season. He was on a dogshit team in Togliatta, that failed to make the postseason in the VHL (the Russian equivalent of the AHL), managing a 17-20 record through last season.

He should be able to get some time up in the KHL next season and can certainly be a controlled weapon on the ice playing against the top players overseas. Svechkov is extremely patient with the puck and doesn’t really cheat in any aspects of his game, on defense and offense he is methodical with every move and a scouting dream.

With this low-risk, high-reward type of player, it just feels destined to be a steal.

Pre-Draft Rankings

#6 by NHL Central Scouting (EU Skaters)

#14 by Elite Prospects

#36 by Scott Wheeler/The Athletic

#24 by Corey Pronman/The Athletic

#18 by FC Hockey

#30 by TSN

What Scouts Are Saying

It has taken me some time to come to terms with Svechkov’s game. I don’t like his stride, which extends back through his toes, hunching him over his feet, instead of back and out through the arches of his feet. He’s also not a particularly dynamic offensive presence. He’s not scary when he’s out there. What he is, though, is one of the most complete hockey players in the draft. He’s an excellent defensive player who has a knack for disrupting and lifting pucks, is always in sound position, and supports the play low before he even thinks about going the other way. The latter tool helps him be available for his linemates and involve through the neutral zone without needing to be fast. He also does a good job creating separation with his go-to stop-up to force defenders off of him and allow him to attack back into the space they’ve left behind. He has also managed to produce at a consistently high level against his peers despite lacking that high-end quality that most first-round forwards possess. He’s able to do that for some of the same reasons he’s so effective without the puck: A lot of quick, smart plays and his understanding of spacing. I don’t want this to position him as unskilled, either, because he’s not. He’s plenty capable of carrying the puck and making plays in the offensive zone. In fact, against his peers, those tools can sometimes really shine. He made progress in the VHL once he began playing a little less passive there, too. But the real strength of his game is in its details.

-Scott Wheeler, The Athletic

Svechkov played versus men this season, looked like he belonged at the pro level and had a solid U18 worlds to finish his season. He’s very skilled, showing a lot of confidence and creativity as a puckhandler. Svechkov can create for his teammates and shows half-wall playmaking ability to go with the plays he can make at pace. Off the puck, he’s physical, responsible defensively and killed penalties at the VHL level. The skating is fine but lacks the true quick twitch in his feet to push defenders back and pressure with speed. In a sentence, Svechkov projects as a middle-six NHL center who provides good value at both ends but may not be a big-time offensive player.

-Corey Pronman, The Athletic

A gifted two-way center who established his reputation as a top-line player several years ago, Svechkov pieced together an impressive draft year in which he carried a thin Ladya squad in Russia’s junior-age MHL before he spent the remainder of the season playing against men for an equally-inept team in the adult-age VHL. Since historical data shows that barely any of the nearly 100 under-18 prospects who have played in the VHL produced anything noteworthy over more than a 10-game sample, it’s important to credit Svechkov for recording the league’s second-most points (15 in 38 games) by an under-18 prospect in his first year of draft eligibility. Svechkov’s season with Ladya in the junior circuit from an individual standpoint was just as impressive, especially since neither of his squads made the playoffs. Although he appeared in only 15 games, Svechkov led the club in points-per-game (1.00), time on ice (19:19), and faceoff percentage (53.7), and ranked second in shots per game (3.5). And it wasn’t just the rate at which Svechkov was scoring, but how and when he was accumulating his impressive numbers. All 15 of his points (4 goals, 11 assists) were primary and 12 came during 5-on-5.

Svechkov also has represented his country with distinction at several international tournaments, specifically the 2019 World under-17 Hockey Challenge (second in goals; third in overall scoring) and the 2021 under-18 IIHF World Championship (fifth in overall scoring), where he won gold and silver, respectively. Svechkov recently was traded to the powerful SKA program, where next season he should either center the top line on the SKA-1946 junior club or get a regular shift with SKA-Neva in the VHL.

-The Draft Analyst

Would He Fit In With The Wild?

I already mentioned it in the very title of this blog, but Svechkov just feels like a Wild pick, in the very best way. He has a high floor, with some of the best defensive attributes of the entire draft class and has enough offense to warrant a high pick. It might not be the exact same as a Joel Eriksson Ek and it might blow up in their face like a Filip Johnasson, but he has enough praise from around certain scouting circles that he can fit in with this team style wise.

He’s mobile and plays a very intelligent game. With other players that have been drafted that have similar characteristics like Marco Rossi and Marat Khusnutdinov, Wild director of amateur scouting Judd Brackett must have Svechkov circled on his list as someone that can just add to this arsenal of two-way forward talent this organization is currently stockpiling.

Could The Wild Get Him?

Absolutely. He might be ranked in the teens for some lists, but I feel that his type of game isn’t heralded by many NHL organizations. They opt for the huge defensive defenseman if it’s any reach of a pick and on the most projectable list (Bob McKenzie’s at TSN) to determine what teams are thinking, he is at No. 30. He should be available at one of the two first-round picks that the Wild have at No. 21 and No. 25.

A Minnesota Relation

Not to compare him to a legend, but a two-way center that has an entrenched defensive game and is mobile enough to help out offensive — it’s Mikko Koivu. Svechkov certainly won’t have the same career (maybe he will be a Hall-of-Famer who knows?) but just the overall style he plays on the ice, gliding around the a sense of hard work ethic and defensive awareness to disrupt opposing buildups, it’s just the same.

2021 NHL Draft Board

  1. Owen Power — D, University of Michigan (NCAA)
  2. Matthew Beniers — C, University of Michigan (NCAA)
  3. Brandt Clarke — D, HC Nove Zamky (Slovenia)
  4. Luke Hughes — D, University of Michigan (NCAA)
  5. Dylan Guenther — LW/RW, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
  6. Simon Edvinsson — D, Frolunda (SHL)
  7. William Eklund — C/LW, Djurgårdens IF (SHL)
  8. Kent Johnson — C, University of Michigan (NCAA)
  9. Mason McTavish — C/W, Peterborough Petes/EHC Olten (OHL/Swiss)
  10. Carson Lambos — D, Winnipeg Ice (WHL)
  11. Aatu Raty — C, Kärpät (Liiga)
  12. Chaz Lucius — C, USNTDP Juniors (USHL), U.S. National U18 Team (USDP)
  13. Cole Sillinger — C, Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL)
  14. Sasha Pastujov — LW, U.S. National U18 team (USDP)
  15. Jesper Wallstedt — G, Luleå HF (SHL)
  16. Fabian Lysell — RW, Luleå HF (SHL)
  17. Matthew Coronato — LW, Chicago Steel (USHL)
  18. Oskar Olausson — F, HV71 (HockeyAllsvenskan/Swedish)
  19. Corson Ceulemans — D, Brooks Bandits (AJHL)
  20. Fyodor Svechkov — C, Togliatti (VHL)