Andrei Svechnikov (Miranda Zilkowsky Photography)

by Matt Smith, Staff Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

We will continue our look at prospective draft picks for the Montreal Canadiens at the 2018 NHL Entry Draft with Andrei Svechnikov of the Barrie Colts.

Andrei Svechnikov, RW, Barrie Colts (OHL) 
March 26, 2000 | Barnaul, Russia
6-3, 187 lbs. | Shoots Left | @asvechnikov14
2017-’18: 41 GP, 37 G, 29 A, 66 PTS (Barrie Colts)

CSB: No. 1 (NA Skaters) | ISS: No. 2 | THN: No. 2 | HP: No. 2 | FC: No. 2

Svechnikov completed his first season in North America suiting up for the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the United States Hockey League (USHL). He finished the season with 29 goals, which was fifth in the league, and finished sixth in points with 58. He was also named the USHL’s rookie of the year as a 16-year-old.

Andrei was selected first overall by the Barrie Colts during the 2017 CHL Import Draft. In this, his OHL rookie season, he has scored 37 goals, and has 29 assists for 66 points in just 41 games (1.61 points/game). He has been catching the attention of many as a potential second overall pick at the 2018 NHL Draft, competing with forwards Brady Tkachuk (Boston University) and Filip Zadina (Halifax Mooseheads), as it seems very unlikely anyone will be selected over Swedish defender Rasmus Dahlin (Frolunda).

Andrei is the younger brother of Detroit Red Wings prospect Evgeny Svechnikov (1st round, 19th overall, 2015 NHL Entry Draft).

A hand injury sustained in October may have momentarily slowed his season down, as Svechnikov had 14 points (10 goals) in 10 games prior to his injury. However, since returning from injury, Svechnikov has scored 27 goals, and 52 points in just 31 games. Just imagine his point totals, especially goals, if he hadn’t missed time due to injury. I’d be very surprised if he wasn’t leading the league in that category.

Svechnikov was named to Team Russia during the World Juniors, finishing the tournament with five points (all assists), and four shots on goal in five games as the youngest player on their roster, playing a limited role. Russia lost 4-2 to the United States in the quarterfinals.

Svechnikov also represented Team Orr (coached by Eric Lindros), and was named an alternate captain during the Sherwin-Williams Top Prospects Game. Team Cherry heavily outplayed Team Orr for the majority of the game, coming away with a 7-4 win. He finished  the game a plus-1, and was held pointless, but was still dangerous when he was on the ice.

“I’m a power forward; I can hit, pass and score.” – Andrei Svechnikov

An offensive-minded winger with a shoot-first mentality, a threat anywhere in the offensive zone, but still possesses the ability to set up his teammates for scoring chances, making him that much more dangerous each time he is on the ice. When Svechnikov has the puck, he protects it well, using his speed, stick skills and power on his way to the net. When he doesn’t have the puck, he wants it back, works hard in the dirty areas of the ice, and is strong in pursuit and on the forecheck to create offensive opportunities.

Svechnikov’s skating is above average with good acceleration, a powerful stride at top speed and is not easy to knock off the puck, allowing him to dictate the play in the offensive zone, releasing a heavy, accurate shot, or crisp pass to a teammate.

His coach with the Barrie Colts, Dale Hawerchuk, gave his take, “[Svechnikov] is a strong kid, good size, skates really well and drives the net. He kind of reminds me of (Hockey Hall of Fame right wing) Glenn Anderson in the way Glenn used to come in wide and then cut in. He’s hard to handle driving the net and is going to be a unique player. You don’t see too many like him.”

Svechnikov has quickly established himself as an impact player for the Barrie Colts, and is capable of influencing the game everytime he’s on the ice. A return to the Colts is highly unlikely as his name will be called very soon in Dallas. If he’s available to a team such as the Montreal Canadiens, a team looking for goal scoring, you can all but guarantee he’s in the lineup on opening day, hopefully as a winger, and not converted to centre.

Speaking to NHL.com, Karl Stewart of NHL Central Scouting said this about Svechnikov, “”I think if there’s one (Canadian Hockey League) player right now who can step into an NHL lineup it would probably be [Svechnikov]. He’s big and his shot is so powerful. He just drops the shoulder and turns it on; you can’t stop him. His shot bides him so much time and space that defenders have to play up on him, but he has the skill to dance around you. He’s a magician on the half-wall on the power play.”

The Habs scouting staff will likely have the Russian forward on their list of potential selections when they step up to the podium, but luck will have to be on their side. It is highly unlikely an NHL ready Andrei Svechnikov will drop any lower than fourth overall.

If they’re lucky enough to win the draft lottery, there is no question that they’ll select Rasmus Dahlin, any team would! However, if they win the second or third overall pick, it will be hard to pass on Svechnikov, a potential top line, goal scoring winger, and Calder Trophy candidate.