Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2021 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we bring you our Daniil Chayka Scouting Report.
Russian defenceman Daniil Chayka came to Ontario in 2017, joining the Toronto Junior Canadiens in the GTHL and choosing that the CHL was the best route for his future. He was the 7th overall pick in the 2018 OHL Draft, taken by the Guelph Storm. Chayka put up five goals and nine assists for 14 points in 56 games as a rookie. The Storm won the OHL Championship and Chayka was a second-team All-Rookie. He also put up a goal and an assist at the Under-17 World Hockey Challenge, helping Russia to a gold medal.
Chayka came into his own in his second season in the OHL. He started the season helping Russia to a gold medal at the Hlinka/Gretzky Cup. Chayka scored 11 goals and 23 assists for 34 points in 56 games before the season was cut short by the COVID Pandemic.
With the OHL season cancelled this year, Chayka returned to Russia. He had one goal and two points in 11 KHL games with CSKA Moscow. Chayka also added an assist in 10 games with their VHL affiliate. He had more success playing in the junior league, with four points in five MHL games.
Daniil Chayka Scouting Report
Defence — shoots Left
Born October 22nd, 2002 — Moscow, Russia
Height 6’3″ — Weight 185 lbs [191 cm/84 kg]
Chayka is a mobile defender but can still improve his skating. His first few steps are decent but can be quicker. He can also improve his acceleration. Once he reaches top speed, he is able to move quickly around the ice. His pivots are also good, allowing Chayka to transition quickly from offence to defence and vice-versa. Chayka’s edgework is also very good and his turns and crossovers are effective. He has very good side-to-side mobility. This really helps him at both ends of the rink. It gives him good gap control and makes him tough to beat in one-on-one situations. He also has the ability to walk the line and open up passing and shooting lanes. Chayka is tall but needs to add muscle to his frame. As he gets stronger his balance will improve and he will be better in board battles and in front of the net.
Chayka has an excellent array of shots. His slap shot and one-timer are excellent. They are powerful and he has a knack for getting them on the net. He also does a good job of adjusting his feet if a pass is not perfect. His wrist shot is also powerful. He gets it off quickly, with an excellent release. Chayka is able to change the angle of his release and fool goaltenders. His wrist shot is very accurate. He also has a very good snapshot. Chayka loves to sneak into the top of the faceoff circles and let those shots go. With his skating, he can pinch in to take these shots as well as to keep in pucks at the line.
Chayka’s passing game is decent. However, he is much more of a trigger man than a quarterback on the powerplay. He keeps the puck moving and can find an open man. However, he is not the type to make creative cross-ice passes through tight lanes. Chayka is more likely to join the rush as a trailer than to carry the puck through the neutral zone. He makes a decent first pass to start the rush, as long as that pass isn’t too long. When asked to make a long breakaway pass or to hit something through a big seam, Chayka can struggle. This leads to turnovers or icings.
Chayka does an excellent job of keeping plays to the outside and taking away the middle of the ice. His strong lateral movement helps him to maintain gap control and forces attackers to the outside. Once his man is on the perimeter, he does a good job of taking away passing lanes and forcing them into a shot from a tough angle. Chayka’s long stick and quick movement are real assets here. He is willing to play physical to protect that ice and keeps his opponent to the outside in the cycle game. As he continues to grow, he should get even more physical in board battles and in protecting the front of net.
Projection and Comparison
Chayka has all the tools to be a top-pairing defender in the NHL, but his game needs some refinement. He has had recent growth spurts and still seems to be adjusting to his body. He also needs to add some strength and muscle to that frame. These improvements as well as working on his long-range passing would really take his game to the next level. As it stands, he will need a couple of years before he is ready for pro hockey. It would be nice if Chayka returns to Guelph next year to continue playing on the smaller North American Ice. His game is reminiscent of Alec Martinez. This is a stylistic comparison only though and not one based on skill.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Daniil Chayka that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for our next NHL Draft article.
Daniil Chayka Scouting Report Main Photo:
PLYMOUTH, MI – DECEMBER 12: Daniil Chayka #5 of the U17 Russian Nationals passes the puck against the Slovakia Nationals during day-2 of game one of the 2018 Under-17 Four Nations Tournament at USA Hockey Arena on December 12, 2018 in Plymouth, Michigan. Russia defeated Slovakia 6-1. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)