Everybody knows Rasmus Dahlin will go No. 1 overall to the Buffalo Sabres at the NHL Draft later this month. The stud defenceman has been the undisputed top prospect all season and nothing in his performance has led to any doubt about it.
But after Dahlin are a few highly touted wingers. Brady Tkachuk’s brother, Matthew, is already making an impact in the NHL and Brady himself comes with both offensive upside and the same Tkachuk grit we’re used to. Filip Zadina was the best player at the Top Prospects Game this season and topped the QMJHL in scoring in his first North American season. Andrei Svechnikov was injured for a large chunk of the first half of the season, before tearing apart the OHL upon his return.
On various draft lists, all three made a case to go No. 2 overall. But the team that currently holds the pick, the Carolina Hurricanes, seem locked in on Svechnikov.
“I don’t want to give all my cards away, but he is certainly at the top of our list,” Hurricanes GM Don Waddell told Raleigh’s ABC 11 News. “There’s some other really good players there so we gotta make sure we know them all in case, you never know what might happen or what might be offered to us. If I was going to the draft floor tonight to make the pick, I’d be picking Andrei.”
Recently named the CHL’s Top Prospect of the Year, Svechnikov had the best goals-per-game rate in the OHL with 40 goals in 44 games this season, which was shortened by a hand injury that kept him out two months between October and December. Not only is he a goal scorer, but Svechnikov is a high-end skater and a big player at six-foot-three and close to 200 pounds who doesn’t shy away from the physical part of the game. In fact, he thrives in it.
Svechnikov was visiting the Hurricanes in Raleigh this week after he tested for them at the combine and, if the team does pick him second overall, he’s more than happy to join a team he’s acknowledged before is young and “on the rise.”
“I like this organization so much, good guys, easy to talk to,” he told the local station. “I will be happy for sure with this place. It’s just a great place for me.”
And the team has big plans for him already, too. The Hurricanes figure to be busy this summer as the new GM under a new owner get to work on improving a roster that hasn’t made the playoffs in nine seasons. Goaltending is one area of need, but Carolina also needs to upgrade its scoring lines. Luckily this is Svechnikov’s primary strength.
“We expect Andrei, if we draft him, that he’ll come right in and play a role on our team,” Waddell said.