Sasha Chmelevski of the Ottawa 67’s. Photo by Bob Lefebvre/OHL Images
Checking in as our 59th ranked prospect for the 2017 NHL Entry Draft is Alexander ‘Sasha’ Chmelevski. The 6’0″ and 187 lbs centre was expected to have a standout season after a sensational Ivan Hlinka tournament in the summer, but he just couldn’t quite get there.
Possessing a wicked shot and great playmaking abilities, Chmelevski has the skillset to take that next step and could very well have his name called in the second round. But if teams are concerned that his international performances are just a blip, then he could fall into the third round.
With those concerns in mind, Chmelevski falls into the latter parts of the second round of our rankings.
- Age: 18-years-old, 1999-05-11
- Birthplace: Huntington Beach, CA, USA
- Position: C
- Handedness: R
- Draft Year Team: Ottawa 67’s – OHL
Chmelevski is a playmaker that possesses great vision and hard and accurate passing skills. Can distribute the puck really well in tight and finds lanes where there is usually no space for a successful pass. Possesses good top speed and quick acceleration. Has very smooth hands, probably his biggest asset.
A highly-skilled, highly-competitive center…great speed and skating agility…changes speed quickly, is good on his angles, possesses a powerful stride and impressive explosive jump allowing him to escape opposition…great skill and sense with the puck having the hand-speed and creativity to get around opposition and create space…great vision and awareness for teammates, makes skilled passes and sets up scoring chances….has finishing ability as well…knows where to go on the ice and sets up well for a scoring chance…strong shot, quick release and impressive power…deadly one-timer…effective at both ends of the ice…high compete on D and walls…gets up and down the ice with speed, on the forecheck, on the backcheck, consistently injecting himself into the play…showing improving involvement as a two-way player with immense offensive skills.
Chmelevski being ranked in the last parts of the 2nd round seems to be a common theme amongst all public services. He has that intriguing skill set, to go along with his size, which makes him attractive in that part of the draft. He never had a huge game that inflated his point totals and was fairly consistent in his production until final five games of the season:
He followed that up with four points in six playoff games for the 67’s. Ottawa gave Mississauga some trouble in their first round matchup, and Chmelevski was a big part of that.
Looking at OHL draft eligible forwards, Chmelevski does fall below quite a few names:
Linus Nyman is ranked 100th amongst North American skaters, while Zachary Gallant is 64th and Chmelevski is 43rd. So it’s fair to conclude that scouts feel that Chmelevski has that extra gear that separates him from players with similar production.
An interesting look at the young California-born forward is looking at the shots on goal per game and the shooting percentage against the same names in the graph above:
Chmelevski is in the middle of the pack of the group, but has the lowest shooting percentage. The majority of his shots (91/169) came from low percentage areas and produced one goal. He was much more effective in medium and high danger locations with 20 goals on 78 shots (25.6%). This aids in the suggestion that Chmelevski’s shot is one of his strengths, he just needs to get into the right areas. It is worth noting that those MD and HD shooting percentages aren’t crazy high and thus likely won’t see major regression. His goal heat map adds more credence to that thought:
Thus if you are the team who does select Chmelevski, you would want to get him shooting more and attack the net with the puck. Don’t take those low danger shots, go towards the net. If there isn’t a good enough location for the shot, hold onto the puck. He can hold the puck quite well and use his teammates effectively, so there is no reason to force a shot.
Chmelevski has the puck skills, shot and size to make it as an effective forward. He just needs to be more consistent with his play and push himself into positions where he can be even more effective. When you watch him, he shows those flashes that leave you wanting more. The talent is there; it’s just under the surface. Chmelevski produced at a high-end 2nd line rate with only 17:50 average eTOI per game, which is significantly lower than some of the other players listed above (EX: Tippett had AeTOI 22.11)
The second half of the second round has a lot of traded picks to teams that also have earlier 2nd round picks. Given that – a team may be more willing to use their ‘second’ pick in the second round on Chmelevski in hopes they can get him to polish his game.
Given his production, Chmelevski has a lot of comparable players (n=384) with a success rate of 19.4% amongst that group. The most notable successful comparables that are close to Chmelevski are Alyn Mccauley, Steven Rice, Mike Fisher, Manny Malhotra and Matt Beleskey. Not a great list, but still serviceable players who were effective at times.
Looking at how his successful matches lined up – the majority were in a depth role. This isn’t surprising given Chmelevski didn’t exactly blow down the doors this season.
All of the data and scouting reports above confirm that Chmelevski is an extremely skilled player who may just be scratching the surface of what he has to give. With adjustments to his game, more ice time and different deployments – Chmelevski could be poised for a breakout next season. If he does so, he will be in the conversation for Team USA for the World Juniors in December.
However on the flip side, if he continues at the rate he currently produces then his ceiling isn’t too high.
It will be interesting to see which player shows up next year and which organization takes the risk.