With the 38th pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, the Vegas Golden Knights have selected Daniil Chayka from the Guelph Storm of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL)
About Daniil Chayka
Using his size, mobility, and long reach, Chayka is a difficult player to get around when entering the zone. The 6-foot-3, 185-pound Moskva-native was a fairly solid point producer with the Guelph Storm last season, but took a step back in Russia with CSKA Moskva and Zvezda Moskva in 2020-21. He only put up a goal and two points in 21 games and seemed to struggle at times to show off his offensive game. Despite that, he should become a solid defenceman in the NHL one day, especially considering his defensive game is quite polished already. Once he grows into his frame, the team that drafts him will be very happy with who they got in the first round.
THW Prospect Profile Excerpt
“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?
Related: THW 2021 NHL Draft Guide
“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.”
How This Affects the Golden Knights’ Plans
With Chayka the Golden Knights get a solid two-way defenceman that could make it to the NHL sooner than most of his cohorts. His offensive game still needs developing, but when he does hit his peak he will be a great complement to a purely offensive blueliner.
Matthew Zator is a THW freelance writer, media editor, and scout who lives and breathes Vancouver Canucks hockey, the NHL Draft, and prospects in general. He loves talking about young players and their potential. Matthew is a must-read for Canucks fans and fans of the NHL Draft and its prospects. For interview requests or content information, you can follow Matthew through his social media accounts which are listed under his photo at the conclusion of articles like this one about Tyler Motte.