2020-21 Team: Spartak Moskva
Date of Birth: October 22, 2022
Place of Birth: Moskva, Russia
Ht: 6-foot-3 Wt: 185 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2021 first-year eligibility
- NHL Central Scouting: 5th (amongst EU skaters)
- FC Hockey: 39th
- TSN/McKenzie: 19th
- Future Scope Hockey: 23rd
- THW Forbes’ Top 128: 32nd
- THW Zator’s Top 100: 30th
- THW Baracchini’s Top 160: 43rd
Daniil Chayka is not the most exciting NHL Draft prospect to watch. His low point totals in Canadian junior, Russian junior, and Russian professional hockey over the past few seasons accurately reflect his lack of offensive ability. So, why do numerous scouts claim the Russian defenseman is worthy of a first-round selection?
With his size and mobility, Chayka projects to be a reliable and rangy defenseman. The best part of his game results from his strong skating and long reach to defend against zone entries and offensive rushes. He also uses his reach along the boards to strip the puck and suppress scoring chances.
While Chayka will need to fill out his large frame as he matures, his ability to battle for positioning along the boards and in front of the net is positive. However, I would not characterize him as a physical defender, mainly because he’s still fairly slender, but if he develops his physicality, he will be even more effective defensively.
Chayka’s skating is above average for a defender in this year’s class, given his acceleration and lateral movement. However, he does not have a particularly long or quick stride, limiting his ability to transition quickly.
Offensively, Chayka has the tools to be a gifted player, but he lacks the vision and decision-making skills to be effective. His slapshot and wrist shot have decent power and could be assets to his game if used correctly. However, the Russian blueliner often sees his shots blocked before they can pose a threat.
Chayka’s playmaking skills could use development but are not horrendous. He can make simple passes easily and set up offensive chances for those more gifted than him. Occasionally at the junior level, he was trusted with quarterbacking the second power-play unit; however, I would not see that as a likely role at the professional level.
Daniil Chayka – 2021 NHL Draft Projection
I believe Chayka will be selected late in the first round, as most rankings have him projected to go somewhere between 20th-32nd overall. I especially see him selected by a franchise with multiple first-round picks, who can use their first selection on a riskier or more talented prospect then opt for a more “sure thing” in Chayka later.
“He (Chayka) needs to get a bit stronger and add the physical element to his game as that remains one area of weakness for him in his own end. He reads attacks well and gaps up to the puck carrier well in transition, using his stick to knock the puck free. His offensive game can be a bit frustrating at times as we see many of the tools that should lead him to be a threat as an attacker but they rarely come together at once.” – Tony Ferrari, Dobber Prospects
“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.” – Ben Kerr, Last Word on Sports
“Aside from his lack of physical play, I have enjoyed Chayka’s response to loose pucks and puck movement in general. Chayka is quick on his feet. He will quickly put on the jets to hunt down loose pucks and he will keep his foot on the gas when attackers make sudden changes in direction.” – Josh Tessler, Smaht Scouting
- Defensive IQ
- Lateral Movement
Under Construction – Improvements to Make
- Offensive Instincts
Chayka is not a “high-upside” selection. There’s room for improvement, but his ceiling is lower than many projected picks in the latter half of the first round. Chayka could be a defensively solid fourth or fifth defender, but he could reach above or below that, depending on how he develops in the seasons ahead.
Risk – 2/5, Reward – 3/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense – 4/10, Defense – 7/10
Daniil Chayka Statistics
Josh is a young writer from the Bay Area, who now studies journalism at San Diego State University. In addition to covering the Sharks and Gulls for THW, Josh is a crossover scout at FCHockey and covers his school’s hockey team at TheDailyAztec. When not obsessing over hockey, Josh loves blasting music with friends, theatre, and playing with his dog. Follow Josh on Twitter for his latest takes on the Sharks, Gulls, and NHL Draft!