2021-22 Team: Stalnye Lisy Magnitogorsk (MHL)
Date of Birth: Feb 22, 2004
Place of Birth: Magnitogorsk, Russia
Height: 5-foot-9, Weight: 159 pounds
Position: Center/Left Wing
NHL Draft Eligibility: First Year Eligible
- Eliteprospects.com: 72nd
- Smaht Scouting: 64th
- Dobber Prospects: 80th
- Recruit Scouting: 78th
- NHL Central Scouting (EU Skaters): 81st
Ilya Kvochko is a reliable two-way centerman who excelled in the best junior league in Russia this past season, the MHL. He is a very smart player who sees the ice better than most of his opponents, which allows him to position himself well on both sides of the ice. He is constantly making his linemates better by adapting his game to best support them rather than forcing his playstyle on his teammates.
Kvochko isn’t talked about more mostly because of his small frame (5-foot-9, 159 pounds), significantly below the NHL average. However, he has shown that his blend of skating, physicality, and strong puck protection continue to help him find success against much larger opponents. He is a very smooth skater with great edgework that he uses wonderfully to evade checks and maintain possession.
Related: 2022 NHL Draft Guide
He scored 49 points this season in 51 MHL games, which is a good start. Kvochko was heavily relied upon on both the penalty kill and power play, where his above-average shot made him a consistent threat. Though it would be nice to see a more dynamic offensive game with improved stickhandling and playmaking, his excellent defensive game helps us look past that a bit. If he can improve his offensive game and continue to shut opponents down when they try to enter the zone, he will make an NHL coach very happy someday.
Kvochko was very successful at the 2021-22 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, where he centered a line with Russian wingers Alexander Perevalov and Matvei Michkov (2023 Draft Eligible). He scored six points in five games as Team Russia won the tournament. However, he didn’t simply coast off the skill of his linemates. His defensive prowess and supportive play freed up more space and chances for his more offensively gifted teammates.
Other THW Draft Profiles
Ilya Kvochko – NHL Draft Projection
Kvochko will likely slide a bit in the draft due to the double-whammy of being an undersized center and being drafted out of Russia. There will be some NHL general managers who pass on him for one or both of those reasons, but his great two-way play should make him just a little too good to pass on by the time the fourth round starts. I expect him to be drafted in the 90-110 range (4th round) by a team that has established themselves as one of the few who aren’t scared off by smaller players, such as the Arizona Coyotes (Connor Garland) or the Montreal Canadiens (Cole Caufield).
“Kvochko’s game brings physicality and strong puck protection allowing him to take advantage of players who are overly aggressive in trying to take the puck away from him. Offensively, Kvochko has a decent shot which he features on the powerplay. He also uses his vision and ability to scan plays to find the holes in his opponent’s defensive coverages and capitalize on those opportunities.” – Zack Szweras, Dobber Prospects
- Defensive effort and intensity
- Valuable on both special teams units
- Skating (especially edge-work)
- Great physicality
Under Construction (Improvements to make)
- Lacks ideal NHL size
Kvochko has the potential to become a solid middle-six center who contributes to both special teams in a major way. He is a player that you want to have next to your stars, even if he never develops a dynamic offensive game of his own, because of the way he complements the playstyle of his linemates. There has been a lot of talk lately about the skillset you need to play with great players like Zach Hyman or Michael Bunting are able to, and I see some of those skills in Kvochko.
Risk – 3.5/5, Reward 3.5/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense – 6.5/10, Defense 7.5/10
- 2020-21 U18 WJC Silver Medal
- 2021-22 Hlinka Gretzky Cup Gold Medal