It's becoming commonplace for Russian-born players who want to play NHL hockey to play their junior hockey in North America. Among this year's crop of players to make that decision is Evgeny Svechnikov.
The big winger joined the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles this past season and had an impressive rookie campaign. In 55 games for Cape Breton, Svechnikov put up 32 goals and 78 points. He followed that up with a point-per-game effort in the playoffs that included a goal and six assists in seven games. He was named to the QMJHL's All-Rookie Team for his efforts and took part in the CHL Top Prospects Game.
On the international stage, Svechnikov has been a fixture for Russian teams since taking part in the 2012 Youth Olympic Games. He was a force for the silver medalist Russians at the 2014 U-18 World Championships with three goals and seven points in five games. He didn't play at the 2015 World Juniors in Montreal and Toronto but is a virtual lock next season, provided he is available.
Svechnikov is a player that can do it all on the ice. He has high level offensive awareness and loads of skill. He shoots the puck well, handles it comfortably and has a big enough body to shield it well. While he's not a flashy skater, he moves around the ice well and can create space for himself to get a good shot off.
Concerns for Svechnikov's game moving forward are the same for many young players: defence and consistency. As such a skilled offensive player, there hasn't been much need for Svechnikov to grow as a 200-foot player. He has scored at such a high clip it has made up for his shortcomings in that regard. Playing in the NHL will place a higher demand on his neutral and defensive zone effort.
With respect to consistency, young players often go through stretches where they "disappear" if the puck isn't going in for them. Their confidence becomes fragile and the work rate isn't where it is when they're filling the net. Svechnikov will need to improve the consistency of his work rate in all zones when he's not scoring to have success at the next level.
Expect Svechnikov to be taken in the mid-to-late first round on June 26.