2021-22 Team: Avto Yekaterinburg (MHL)
DOB: October 25, 2003
Place of Birth: Russia
Ht: 6-foot-2 Wt: 165 pounds
Position: Left Wing
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2022 Draft Eligible
As far as “project picks” in the 2022 NHL Draft go, Viktor Neuchev is one of the better ones. With all the confidence and moxie of a blue-chip goal-scorer, he possesses one of the best shots in this draft class – and he isn’t afraid to use it. He was a 40-goal scorer this season in the MHL (the Russian equivalent of the Canadian Hockey League) due to his willingness to use his shot and how lethal it is. As a left-hand shot lining up on the right side of the ice, his teammates were eager to feed him the puck similarly to how the Washington Capitals look to feed Alex Ovechkin of the left side.
Related: 2022 NHL Draft Guide
Neuchev is not a one-trick pony though. While he often hovers around the right faceoff circle, you’ll find him buzzing around the entire offensive zone, looking for the open areas of the ice so his teammates can find him with a pass. Once he receives the puck, he often unloads a heavy wrist shot without much hesitation. His shot is dangerous, and not only is he eager to use it, but he also makes sure he’s in a position to use it too.
Beyond his shot, Neuchev is also a weapon in transition as he does well to make himself a viable passing option for his teammates. He skates wide to create space for himself, and as soon as his defenders come up with the puck in the defensive zone, he’s off to the races to receive a pass and carry it up ice. When the play is heading towards the offensive zone, he’s a player the opposition must account for.
As great as Neuchev’s shooting ability is, the other facets of his offensive game aren’t as developed. He often makes ambitious passes that lead to turnovers. When he has the puck, he is basically nullified if there isn’t a good shooting lane or a lethal passing opportunity. He has enough stick skill to create space for himself, but he’s not as adept at creating for others.
In the defensive zone, Neuchev is not an active defender. Instead, he presents himself as an outlet pass opportunity, often hovering by himself in the zone, waiting to carry the play in the opposite direction. That being said, he is also the type of player that excels when he plays to his strengths, so defense isn’t necessarily something you would expect him to focus on. Ultimately, his ability to either grow his defensive game or outscore his defensive shortcomings will probably dictate whether or not he can make it at the NHL level.
Neuchev is a mobile player, but his skating is pretty average. He’s tall enough that his legs give him enough momentum in his stride to keep up with the play, but he would look slow if he played alongside players with even just above-average speed. At 165 pounds, he is quite slender, and you can imagine physical defensemen having their way with him if given the opportunity. Adding bulk and raw power to his body will be key because without it he probably won’t have the opportunity to showcase what makes him such a dangerous offensive player.
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Viktor Neuchev – NHL Draft Projection
Neuchev finds himself ranked anywhere from the bottom of the second round to outside of the third round entirely. Given the lack of multiple dimensions to his game, he’s a player that you either like or you really don’t. There is also the matter of his nationality and current global affairs. While he could develop into a nifty scorer at the next level, there will be concerns about whether or not he will ever leave his native Russia. That fact alone could see him drop out of the top-100 picks. Still, his skill level is considerable enough that some team will be willing to take a flyer on him, anywhere from the early-to-mid third round to the beginning of the fifth round.
“Neuchev is a creative goal-scoring winger who uses his skill to penetrate in the offensive zone and rarely passes up an opportunity to shoot the puck. The standout aspect of his game is his high-end shot, which boasts a quick release that allows him to get the puck off his stick in a hurry without sacrificing power or accuracy” – Brandon Holmes, FC Hockey
“Neuchev is a north-south offensive winger with a powerful shot and a physical element to his game. He excels when firing shots from the slot and displayed some very good work along the boards. His best attribute is his wrist shot. He can get it off in motion by using a drag and curl move before firing, usually trying to do so between defenders’ legs for an added layer of deception.” – Jake Janso, FC Hockey
- Offensive IQ
- Offensive confidence
- Defensive engagement
- Breakout speed
- Creating for teammates
If he can add a few more dimensions to his game, Neuchev has the offensive capabilities to be a solid middle six scorer at the NHL level. It’s not out of the question for him to become a perennial source of around 25 goals and 50 points. His shot is incredibly lethal and it should only get better, but he needs to make himself a more projectable forward at the NHL level.
Risk – 3.5/5, Reward – 3.5/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense – 7/10, Defense 2/10
I am a Western Michigan University alum whose passion for hockey knows no limits. Dr. Pepper enthusiast. Catch me and my fellow Red Wings writers’ YouTube show “The Hockey Writers Grind Line” which drops every Saturday.