Evgeny Svechnikov has taken every possible step to inch closer to the National Hockey League -- including coming across the Atlantic Ocean.
Svechnikov, a native of Yuzno-Sakhalinsk, Russia, left home to join the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles in order to raise his profile in the 2015 NHL Draft, a move the 18-year-old felt necessary.
"I know it's important to play here if I want to be in the NHL," Svechnikov told NHL.com in May. "I wanted to play here before getting drafted. I wanted to try Canadian hockey, so I play here and I was excited. I never had a chance to watch [the NHL] in Russia because of the time difference; I just hear the news."
The move has more than paid off for the 6-foot-2, 200-pound winger.
In his rookie season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Svechnikov recorded 78 points in 55 games -- the second-highest total among first-year players. His 32 goals also helped set a Cape Breton club record.
The adjustment to North America was immediate for Svenchikov, earning points in nine straight games to start his career with the Screaming Eagles. He added nine points in three games from Jan. 5-11, 2015 – highlighted by back-to-back four-point performances – en route to being named the Canadian Hockey League Player of the Week.
The performance, both in small stretches and overall body of work, has Svechnikov firmly fixed as a first round candidate.
"I want to make an NHL team and if I have to play more in the Canadian Hockey League or the American Hockey League, it doesn't matter," he said. "I was able to bring a few things I learned in Russia to the North American game but it's a different game here. The simple things worked here but not everything."
Born: October 31, 1996
Hometown: Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Russia
Team: Cape Breton (QMJHL)
CSS Rank: 17th among North American Skaters
FC Rank: 16th overall
ISS Rank: 18th overall
Guillaume Gervais of Future Considerations: “While Svechnikov is already a dangerous player I think he still has a lot of room to grow. He still has some bad habits, and he could be a more consistent offensive force. Overall I think Svechnikov has both the tools and potential to warrant a high selection and if he continues to pile up the points, the sky is the limit.”
Marc Lapointe of International Scouting Service: “I feel like he is the best prospect in this league. Could become a star in the NHL. Has all the offensive tools you can ask for: speed, agility, vision, shot and hands. Can stickhandle out of a phone booth.”
Troy Dumville of NHL Central Scouting: "He proved to be a very skilled skater, strong on the puck and a player capable of doing a lot of things well," Dumville said. "He plays a physical game, doesn't back away, is aggressive on the forecheck and finishes checks. He's a pretty complete player for a first-year player in the league. He was playing the off [right] wing the first half of the year and then moved to center.”
As a lead-in to the 2015 NHL Draft, CalgaryFlames.com will outline potential targets for the Calgary Flames with the 15th overall pick in the first round on draft day on June 26th.