2017-18 Team: Wenatchee Wild (#17)
Date of Birth: April 4, 2000
Place of Birth: Cypress, California
Ht: 6’1″ Wt: 187 lbs
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2018 first-year eligible
- THW (Pike’s Picks): 92nd (final)
- Future Considerations: 46th (final)
- ISS: not in top 31 (final)
- Bob McKenzie: 69th (final)
- Craig Button: 72nd (final)
The National Hockey League’s annual entry draft is, in a lot of ways, a bit of a crap-shoot. One of the byproducts of the risk-averse nature of NHL front offices and scouting staffs is that players that don’t have a ton of offensive upside occasionally get overlooked no matter how strong they are in other areas. While there are some aspects of his game that likely make NHL clubs a bit nervous, it should be stated that California product (and Wenatchee Wild blueliner) Slava Demin is one of the better defensive defensemen in the entire 2018 draft class.
A native of Southern California who came up through Anaheim’s minor hockey system, Demin opted for the junior A route to maintain his college eligibility (he’ll attend the University of Denver next season). This route has allowed him to round out his game, and as he’s grown into his body he’s really become adept at shutting opposing scorers down – and his physical maturing has opened up different avenues for that. Rather than rely only on positioning and stick-work, he’s become more aggressive and willing to use his body to make life tough for the other team. His ability to create turnovers and transition the puck has really helped his club.
If there’s a criticism of Demin, it’s arguably that he’s too defensive. He’s shown some offensive flair in the past and he’s an effective puck distributor, but he errs on the side of caution with the puck and makes the safe play quite often. The “arguable” aspect is whether he displays too much restraint with the puck, to the detriment of his offensive game. That said, he almost doubled his offensive production in 2017-18 compared to his previous season – goals jumped from 5 to 9, points increased from 27 to 45 – so his offensive side is still coming along: it’s just not as strong as his defensive game.
There are sometimes concerns about the offensive production from junior A players translating to the higher levels of hockey, but Demin’s meal ticket is his defensive play. He plays a smart, composed game away from the puck and won’t need to change much to succeed, which will make him a fairly attractive commodity in the 2018 NHL Draft. The only thing that could hold him back is if his offensive development flat-lines. He’s headed to a University of Denver program that brought Will Butcher’s offense along over four years, so he’ll have a chance to grow that part of his game.
Slava Demin – NHL Draft Projection
Demin projects to be selected somewhere around the middle of the second round. Concerns about his ability to generate offense might see him slide a little bit, but his defensive effectiveness should ensure he’s off the board by early in the third round.
“The only BCHLer in the game, Demin proved himself to be tough to play against all night. He showed great playmaking vision to set up a goal and his willingness to play aggressive on defense will help his future stock. He’s a Denver commit.” – Ryan Kennedy, The Hockey News (on Demin’s performance in the All-American Prospects Game)
“A California-born defenseman who last year was one of the best (and youngest) 2018 first-year eligibles to play in the BCHL. Demin, a Denver commit whose CHL rights are owned by the WHL’s Everett Silvertips, will play for Team USA at the Ivan Hlinka. He’s got good size, a hard shot and skates extremely well. Demin is a three-zone defender who plays more mature than you’d think, and he didn’t crack under the pressure of consistently playing against opposing top lines. If the Americans want to repeat the success they had at last year’s Hlinka, they’ll need Demin’s puck-carrying skills and well-timed pinches to set the tone for what is sure to be a swarming attack.” – Steve Kournianos, The Draft Analyst
- Strong situational awareness
- Uses positioning and physicality effectively away from puck
- Accurate passer
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Could stand to take more risks with the puck to create offense
- Will need to add muscle to play his current style as a pro
- Needs to shoot the puck more often
Other 2018 NHL Draft Profiles
Demin projects as a second pairing two-way defender at the NHL level. His defensive skill might translate well into penalty killing.
Risk – 1/5, Reward – 3.5/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense 7.5/10, Defense 8.5/10
Demin represented the United States at Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament. He helped the Wild win a BCHL Championship this season.
Ryan Pike has covered the Calgary Flames and the NHL Draft extensively since 2010 as a Senior Writer for The Hockey Writers and Senior Contributing Editor of FlamesNation.ca. A member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, he lives in Calgary.