Red Wings: The Three Best Russian Prospects in the Draft

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While the “Russian Factor” might be a problem for other general managers, Steve Yzerman has a history of ignoring said “issue” in the draft. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the top three Russians in this year’s draft.

Daniil Chayka – LD

Chayka’s stock has fallen a bit since the beginning of the draft process, but his size (6-foot-3) and mobility are enough to attract attention in the first round.

When the OHL’s season seemed uncertain, Chayka decided to head back home to play in the Russian leagues. He spent the year hopping between the KHL, VHL and MHL (Essentially the Russian version of playing in the NHL, AHL and juniors), spending most of his time in the pros. In the KHL, Chayka scored a goal and an assist in 11 games with CSKA Moskva. With Zvezda Moskva in the VHL, he only recorded an assist in 13 games (Playoffs included). In the MHL (Juniors), he scored a goal and four assists in 11 games. Chayka also had a chance to further his draft stock in the World Championships, where he played with Russia’s U-20 (0 points in six) and adult (A goal and two assists in three) teams.

I don’t want to get Red Wings fans too ramped up with this comparison, but Chayka is somewhat similar to Moritz Seider in his draft year. Chayka is a large, rangy defenseman that has an underutilized offensive toolkit.  The biggest difference is physicality; in his draft year, Seider was already crushing opponents with his hits. Chayka has yet to push his 6-foot-3 frame to its full potential.

Essentially, Chayka is an incomplete prospect. The team that drafts him must do so with the understanding that he’s at least two years away from the NHL. He has all sorts of raw skills, but there really hasn’t been a stretch of play where he consistently utilizes them. Chayka has a nasty set of shots, ranging from a rocket of a slapshot to a robust wrister. While he’s not exactly speedy, he has good edgework and overall skating, especially considering his size. Despite all these tools, he has yet to produce consistent points. Defensively, Chayka needs to step up his physicality, but the rest of his skillset is quite good. He has the fundamentals down and he doesn’t slack on zone or man coverage. He’s a hard worker that almost never gives an easy opening into the offensive zone.

To play in a league like the KHL at such a young age is quite impressive, even if there aren’t many points to show for it. Chayka’s a project, but Detroit can afford that right now. The organization can let him overripen overseas, letting him put together his offensive game and become more comfortable with his frame. Chayka is a name to watch with Detroit’s second pick.

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