Welcome to Last Word on Hockey’s 2021 NHL Draft Class introductions. The 2020 Draft class was a blast, and the 2021 NHL draft should be too. Alexis Lafreniere was the first overall pick for the New York Rangers in ‘20, but who will it be in ‘21? How about we here at Last Word introduce one name to pay attention to this season: Fyodor Svechkov.
2021 Draft Class Introductions: Who To Watch This Season
The Russian hockey circuit has seen some really good players emerge and become NHL players. The most notable this season is Kirill Kaprizov. There’s another Russian prospect on his way to becoming an NHL player in Vasili Podkolzin. Last year, Yaroslav Askarov, Rodion Amirov and Marat Khusnutdinov were drafted to represent Russia. This year, it’s Fyodor Svechkov who leads my list of Russian-born prospects.
2021 NHL Draft Class Introductions: Fyodor Svechkov
Fyodor Svechkov, born April 5th, 2003, is a forward playing for Lada Togliatti in the VHL. He stands at 6’0” and 179 pounds. Currently, he ranks 10th on my list. He has also been ranked 17th by Elite Prospects and Dobber Prospects.
So far this season, he has played in both the MHL and VHL for the Togliatti system. In 15 MHL games, Svechkov recorded four goals and 11 assists for 15 points, averaging exactly one point per game. In 38 VHL games to this point, Svechkov has recorded five goals and 10 assists for 15 points.
Fyodor Svechkov’s Overall Game
Svechkov is known as one of the best defensive forwards in the entire 2021 class. If it wasn’t for Matt Beniers, he would be arguably the best. However, the knock on Svechkov’s overall game is his explosiveness, as well as a fast pace. His offensive production hasn’t been bad, necessarily, but his offensive game isn’t what many scouts would consider high-end. In fact, there are several outlets I did not mention above that left Svechkov out of their first-round! However, the fact that his offensive game is overlooked could lead to one lucky team potentially landing a steal.
Svechkov’s transitional game has improved drastically as the season has gone on. He went from having a 28.6% controlled zone exit percentage in the first game I tracked, to having a 63.6% controlled zone exit percentage. What that means is he is clearing the defensive zone with possession on 63.6% of his total zone exits. When combining the three games I tracked, Svechkov has a controlled zone exit percentage of 55.2%.
Switching over to his ability to enter the offensive zone, Svechkov yet again took a drastic step in the right direction. In the first game, Svechkov had a controlled zone entry percentage of 25% In the last two games tracked, that figure rose to a whopping 79.3%. Combining all three games, Svechkov has a controlled zone entry percentage of 72.7%. Of the players I tracked, he is one of the best transitionally.
He’s pretty clearly the best Russian player from what I’ve tracked transitionally as well. He averages the most controlled zone exits and entries per game tracked. Fyodor Svechkov also has the highest controlled zone exit and entry percentage as well.
Svechkov is not looked at as a high-end offensive presence, as mentioned earlier. However, there’s a lot of small details in his offensive game that gives him good potential. His offensive game surrounds his ability to draw defenders towards him or out of position. Svechkov has both good shooting and passing abilities, but he wouldn’t be as good in those areas if it isn’t for his IQ.
One such example of this is a play where he was skating in on the right boards, entering the offensive zone. He kept his skates facing forward but twisted his upper-body towards the slot. He held the puck out wide on his forehand, exposing the puck to the defender. As the defender steps, he pulls the puck in towards his body and skates past the defender. As the opposition now chases him, he was able to pick up his head and find a passing option. It didn’t end in a goal, but the set-up is something you’ll see with relative consistency in Svechkov’s game.
Svechkov is a very efficient dual-threat on offence. He may not be high-end or explosive when it comes to his offensive game, but he’s very consistent and it shows in the numbers I have tracked. When it comes to his passing specifically in the offensive zone, Svechkov has completed 78.6% of his pass attempts. 40.5% of those pass attempts were also directed towards high-danger areas, which paints a bigger picture. It shows that a good amount of his pass attempts are directed towards setting up really good scoring chances. There’s some underlying potential with these numbers for Svechkov.
As for his shooting, in the games I tracked, Svechkov fired 76.9% of his total shot attempts on net. He did not score a goal, however. Also of those attempts, 23.1% came from high-danger areas. What this shows is that Svechkov does most of his offensive damage through his passing abilities. As mentioned earlier, he uses his high IQ and ability to draw defenders out of position in order to complete those passes.
Svechkov is methodical in the defensive zone. He is positionally sound, both with his body and his stick. His anticipation is extremely high-end, as time and time again he always seems to be a step ahead of the play. He either positions himself directly where the puck winds up, or he sneaks his way into a spot to take away a shooting lane before it even presents itself to become one. Not only that, but he applies a lot of pressure by skating right up and being aggressive on the puck carrier, within reason. He does not chase after the puck to do this. Svechkov is only aggressive when the puck carrier enters his area of coverage.
Svechkov is also very responsible. The fact he doesn’t chase or puck-watch is key in being responsible, but it also helps that he does not cheat up ice for offence. He keeps himself low as an easy outlet pass for a teammate to begin a break-out attempt. He’s also almost always the first forward back. That said, Svechkov has a high-end ability in the defensive zone.
2021 NHL Draft Class: Svechkov’s Upside
Svechkov may not have elite potential like some of the other names in this class. For example, Beniers is another strong defensive forward, but his upside is, at this point, far greater than what you can expect from Svechkov. That doesn’t mean he won’t be a future top-six center. With his defensive play, along with his seeming strong playmaking ability, he could be a strong second-line centre and a fringe first-line centre. However, unlike quite a few names with a potentially higher ceiling than him, he has a much safer floor. His game is already well-rounded and branches off from his IQ, which shows translatability to the NHL level.
Not to mention, his skating is also strong. He does not possess elite speed, edges, or acceleration, but he has a powerful stride and good technical ability. That said, with good coaching, he has a base to become a very good skater. With that, paired with his maturity, IQ, and well-rounded playing style, Svechkov looks to be someone who, at the very least, can be a third-line forward.
Photo provided by HC Lada Togliatti’s Press Office via KHL.ru