Blackhawks’ No. 11 pick in 2021 NHL Draft: Making the case for Fyodor Svechkov

What does this versatile, two-way forward bring to the table?

The Second City Hockey staff will be profiling players who could be available at the No. 11 spot in the 2021 NHL Draft, where the Blackhawks will make their first-round selection. The draft starts Friday, June 23.

Having the 11th pick in the NHL Entry Draft is such a strange position. It’s not quite the top 10, not yet on the back half of the first round and it leaves organizations the ability to either hit big or strike out entirely. With that being said, you can never have too many forwards and the Blackhawks have had plenty of success with European players. So, why not take a look at Fyodor Svechkov?

Who is Fyodor Svechkov?

Svechkov is an 18-year-old forward out of Russia who’s been playing for Lada Togliatti of the VHL (Russia) but will move up to SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL next season. He plays both center and wing. While his numbers don’t jump off the page, his playing style most certainly stands out when viewing his game tape.

The Blackhawks lack in forwards who can create space and play away from the puck in the offensive zone. Svechkov has displayed an on-ice awareness that stands out and while he is rarely rewarded for his play, he is more often than not involved in the play when his team finds the back of the net. With his sensibilities and hockey IQ, he could fit in quite nicely to the Blackhawks transition-style offense.

The Basics

Position: Forward
Age: 18 (April 5, 2003)
Hometown: Togliatti, Russia
Height: 6-foot-0
Weight: 183 pounds
Shoots: Left
Team: Lada Togliatti (VHL)

Draft rankings

NHL Central Scouting (NHL): No. 6 European Skater
Elite Prospects: No. 13
Scott Wheeler (The Athletic): No. 36
Corey Pronman (The Athletic): No. 24
Cam Robinson (Dobber Prospects): No. 17

Svechkov has been ranked all over the board for a number of reasons. One point in particular that has dragged him down has been his inconsistent offensive production. While the two-way forward tallied 10 points in 7 games with Russia’s U-18 team in the 2021 World Junior Championship tournament, he finished his season for Lada Togliatta with only 15 points in 38 games. It should be noted that here Svechkov has played his two VHL seasons as a teenager while much of his competition in that league are well into their 20’s and 30’s.

However, when looking at the total offensive transitions when a player is involved (OZT/60), Svechkov ranked 10th (76.50) among his VHL competition. Similarly, in total offensive transitions when Svechkov is on the ice (OZT INV%), he ranked 8th (38.14%) in terms of how often he was involved in that transition play.

What do these numbers say about Svechkov?

Even though he is not being rewarded on the stat sheet, Svechkov is consistently in on the play, helping drive his team’s offense and creating scoring chances, even if the shots are not coming from him. He knows how to play away from the puck, which is something many young players tend to struggle with. With a high hockey IQ, alert on-ice awareness and great vision, Svechkov has been able to think one step ahead of the play.

When applying tracked data alongside his game tape, one of the strongest attributes in Svechkov’s repertoire may be his ability to move pucks into the offensive zone and maintain possession. However, his rate of high-danger shot attempts per 60 minutes was a shockingly low 9.77. This all means that, while Svechkov is getting the puck where it needs to be more than the competition, his team is not scoring at the rate which would be expected in comparison — something that could be fixed by upgrading the talent of his linemates.

Much like his offensive style, Svechkov has found success in transition defense. In his two years in the VHL, Svechkov has primarily played center and has adequately filled the role of two-way forward. The way he has been able to tilt the ice because of his excellent controlled zone exits and entries has been a highlight in this sense.

Organizational Fit

With the Blackhawks playing a primarily transition offense and hybrid man-to-man defense, Svechkov’s game should fit right in. He has shown to be a solid two-way player who skates well and can tilt the ice. With the offensive firepower that Chicago’s roster provides, Svechkov could help generate a lot of offense. He is versatile, being able to play both center and on the wing and could also be useful on special teams.

The Blackhawks European scouts have had a lot of success, particularly in free agent signings. So, why not in the draft?