One thing Oilers fans should be gearing up for is for the
club to use their second, first round pick. Every year these picks are
made “available” by GMs and we get our hopes up for a trade that doesn’t
happen. Even though the Oil need NHL players today, we should be prepared for
them to add another prospect. We should be ready for Evgeny Svechnikov.
The Oilers seem to be telegraphing a preference for Evgeny
Svechnikov right now. When the Edmonton Oilers media crew was asked to come up with four different mock drafts, all four of Tom Gazzola, Bob Stauffer, Jack Michaels, and Chris Westcott had Svechnikov drafted by the Oilers at 16th Overall.
Accuse me, if you want, of reading too much into that, but these four are privy to much closer contact with the club than pretty much everyone else and while they can’t always say exactly what they know, we should still listen when they speak in unison.
I think it’s a fair assumption that the Oilers like Svechnikov. Anyone who listens to the OilersNow program with Bob Stauffer also knows that the Russian power forward also apparently knocked it out of the park in the interview process. But best of all, he isn’t a reach at 16th overall.
Svechnikov, a rookie in the QMJHL this year, came over from Russia to get accustomed to the North American game. He played the year with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles where the bright lights of metropolitan Cape Breton surely wooed him into believing North America and Canada in particular was going to be his future.
In the season before, he played mainly in the MHL, Russia’s Junior league, where he appeared in just 29 games but still produced 14-13-27 with 68 PIMs. He also appeared in three KHL games but they were uneventful in terms of point production. We know that the KHL is not kind to older teenagers, so to a 16 year old we imagine he was never destined to play much.
In this, his first North American season, Svechnikov tallied 55GP, 32-46-78, 70 PIM. He followed that up with 7GP, 1-6-7, 14 PIM in the playoffs. He is described as a deadly offensive player with some work to do in his own end of the rink, but that his skating is stellar even though a leg injury apparently took the wind out of his sails a bit this year. At 6’2″ and 201 pounds he is reported to be built like a Russian tank and plays a rough game. He looks like the combination of skill and size that all teams dream of and the Oilers would be able to bring him along slowly.
He is a left winger and the Oilers have more than enough of them at the NHL level but their system is barren of skilled size in the forward positions once we get past Leon Draisaitl. Plus he has been known to play a little center. They have nobody who plays with a chip on their shoulder AND scoring pedigree. In many ways he is the kind of player Edmonton is lacking.
The Oilers are definitely telegraphing that they will use the pick, likely on a player like Svechnikov who really fits the style of play that Chiarelli has been on record supporting. Whether that’s gamesmanship or an actual representation of their intentions, we’ll find out. Much the same way Glen Sather wants to build the market for Talbot through whatever sources he can, Chiarelli would want to make other GMs interested in the 16th pick believe that he’s fallen in love with a prospect like Svechnikov.
You see, Svechnikov is a legitimate prospect who is rated to be in that range (18th on McKenzie’s list) but might still actually be there when the Oilers pick. If Chiarelli and the Oilers wanted to get the impression out there that they have their eyes set on someone like Meier or Werenski there’s a great chance that the Oilers wouldn’t have a chance to actually draft him and their position would be weaker. Targeting the Russian power forward, in our scenario where the Oilers are faking more interest in using the pick than they really have, means that their man will likely be there. Thus, any team wanting to pry the pick away from Edmonton will be forced to make them their best offer.
It’s all convoluted, really. The most likely case is that the Oilers have Svechnikov targeted with the 16th pick. If somebody starts to drop on draft day they might find themselves with the opportunity to pick someone they didn’t believe would be available and bypass Svechnikov altogether.
However, we should be ready to count this young power forward among Edmonton’s prospects before the end of the night on Friday.