NHL Draft prospect watch: 3 franchise pieces outside of Dahlin
There is no doubt that Rasmus Dahlin is going to go to whatever team wins the NHL draft lottery. But that does not mean that other players cannot be good franchise pieces to build around.
There are plenty of players that are wanting to make the NHL, but only a few are actually ready. Depending on what teams they go to there are two to three players that are ready for the NHL right away. The top of the draft is filled with two-way forwards that will eventually make significant impacts in the NHL.
Andrei Svechnikov – Right Wing – Barrie (OHL)
Svechnikov is going to be an offensive force in the NHL when he is ready. Andrei can score from anywhere on the ice. His blistering shot comes with sniper-like precision. At 6-2 186 lbs, Svechnikov has the size and strength to be among the NHL’s elite goal scorers.
Scouts have said that his top potential is being a pure goal scorer like Patrik Laine and Alexander Ovechkin. He showed that with his play in the OHL this season. In 44 games he posted an impressive 40 goals but also had 32 assists. That is what will make Svechnikov a unique player in the NHL. He sees the ice clearly and knows how to make the extra pass to get his team a goal.
One thing that makes him so advanced for his age is his ability to create his own shot. Andrei at times can create space with his stick-handling to score, but his ability to move off the puck is incredible. Svechnikov understands how and when to push for space with the puck not on his stick, and it leads to a lot of chances off of set plays and transitions.
If Andrei can hit his full potential, he will easily be one of the most exciting players in the NHL, but to get there, he will have to work on his two-way game. Every player, especially the top-end ones have to play defense a decent amount, and Svechnikov has struggled a bit with it. He is very physical with his body, which is a good thing, but at times it can often get him into trouble. Sometimes he gets over aggressive and over pursues a play or ends up taking a costly penalty. Lucky for him, this fault is something that is easily coached. In his young career, he has already shown signs of improvement defensively; he just is not fully there yet.
Brady Tkachuk – Left Wing – Boston University
The younger brother of Matthew Tkachuk, Brady has all the tools to outshine his brothers NHL career. Tkachuk is 6-3 196 lbs, which is precisely what you look for when selecting a two-way forward. Playing physical, but under control is one thing that sets Tkachuk from the rest of the two-ways in this draft.
Tkachuk uses his size and speed to outclass his opponents physically. Head coach of Boston University David Quinn relied on Tkachuk a lot in penalty killing situations during his time at Boston University, and Tkachuk thrived on the unit. Brady’s defense is undoubtedly ready to compete at the NHL level, and he is sure to help out in that area on whatever team he goes to. Tkachuk’s transition to the NHL will be smoother than most, because of his side and defensive abilities.
Along with his strong defensive abilities, Tkachuk has very soft hands and can navigate through traffic efficiently. Scouts his knowledge of knowing when to dump and chase the puck and when to use his stick-handling to carry the puck in. When dumping the puck, Tkachuk does a great job of putting it in the right spot so that it results in a possession for his team.
There is no doubt that Tkachuk’s awareness is at an NHL level, on both defense and offense. He knows what position to be in at all times and can efficiently execute it at the same time. In 40 games with Boston this season he tallied 23 assists which shows his above-average ability to see the ice and make the right pass.
One of the big knocks on Tkachuk is his shot. Even though his shots carry a decent pace, it is not entirely where it needs to be for the NHL. His accuracy is there at times, but other times it is not there. As he gets older and stronger, the speed problem is sure to be fixed, but if Tkachuk is to become a great offensive player, his accuracy will have to get better.
Filip Zadina – Left Wing – Halifax (QMJHL)
Filip Zadina is a very intriguing prospect. Zadina dazzled at the IIHF World Juniors for the Czech Republic, and he was a for Halifax. Filip has been called the best stick-handler in the draft by some scouts, which is scary if you factor in his blistering speed and quick shot.
The combination of size and speed that Zadina brings is that of some of the NHL’s top playmakers, and it looks like his ceiling is exactly that. At 6-1 192 lbs, Zadina has the body to withstand the physicality of the NHL, and the speed to keep up with it. He can move laterally or vertically, and his stick control is second to none.
At the World Juniors, Filip Zadina was able to showcase some of his stick-handling abilities on a large stage. Zadina tallied seven goals during the tournament; including this fantastic display of stick control and shot accuracy.
Don’t sleep on Filip Zadina.
The Czech born winger has all the tools to be an elite player in the NHL.
Zadina can score at will as well as create space for other players around him.
— Tristen Eicher (@TristenEicher) April 20, 2018
In the QMJHL Zadina is a star. In 57 games this season, Zadina scored 44 goals and added 38 assists for a total of 82 points. That adds up to 1.43 points per game, which is an impressive feat in any league. If he can carry this high-level offensive play into the NHL, he will be a star.
Before he gets to that point, he has a few things he will have to work on. Sometimes he can get above himself from a playmaking standpoint, and that leads to him holding the puck for too long. At the junior level he can get away with it, but moving into the NHL the speed and skill of defenders will keep him from being able to hold the puck. Another knock is his defense. It is close to being there, but he still needs to work on it a bit. He has shown flashes of playing defense at a high level, but it has to become more consistent before he reaches the NHL.
The ultimate prize for every team in the lottery is Rasmus Dahlin. But teams can still get some high-level players in picks one through 10. Svechnikov, Tkachuk and Zadina have all the tools needed to dominate at the next level. They will need to be developed, but if done right they will be great contributors to their teams.
Featured image by NHL.com
“From Our Haus to Yours