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When the Sarnia Sting decided to load up for the 2016 OHL Playoffs, one of their trade deadline moves included trading for Ottawa 67s star Travis Konecny. While it was a major deal with many pieces, the centerpiece of the package the 67s got in return that day was Sasha Chmelevski. At the time the rookie centre had 17 points in 29 games for Sarnia. Injuries would limit him to just five games for Ottawa last season.
From Ottawa’s perspective, this was a trade for the future. Chmelevski has showed why they looked to acquire him when they made the decision to rebuild. He has put up 21 goals and 43 points this year. He also added four points in six playoff games. That said, after seeing his dominant performance in last summer’s Ivan Hlinka Tournament, where he had nine points in just four games, Chmelevski may have just scratched the surface of his potential. He helped the U.S. squad to a silver medal.
Chmelevski was named OHL Scholastic Player of the year, with a 98% average in his high school courses.
Sasha Chmelevski Scouting Report: 2017 NHL Draft #54
Center — shoots Right
Born June 9th, 1999 — Northville, Michigan
Height 6’0″ — Weight 186 lbs [183 cm / 84 kg]
An incredible skater, Chmelevski has outstanding speed as well as excellent acceleration. He is dynamic off the rush, and can use his ability to change speeds as a weapon. If defencemen don’t respect his speed, he can beat them to the outside and cut to the net. If they back off too far, he can slow down and use the open space to make plays. He also has excellent edge work. Chmelevski has the ability to change directions on a dime. This makes him extremely elusive, both with and without the puck. He could stand to add a little more lower body muscle and be stronger on the puck.
Chmelevski reads the play extremely well and makes very good decisions with and without the puck. His stick handling is very good, with the ability to control the puck and make fancy moves while moving at top speed. Chmelevski can control the puck, protect it, and make plays in very tight spaces. He also has a strong wrist shot and a quick release. He couples this with an excellent one-timer, and the ability to score in tight to the net to be a pure sniper.
Chmelevski also has good passing skills, but can sometimes focus a little too much on his own shot. When he is moving the puck effectively, he has good vision and the ability to feather the puck through tight areas. Chmelevski has nights where he fights in traffic, gets to the net, makes plays in the corners, and generally looks like a first rounder. He also has nights where he is completely invisible. Maintaining his intensity will be a huge key going forward.
Sasha Chmelevski’s defensive game is a real work in progress. The issues with intensity affect him in the defensive end as well. He has a tendency to float a bit defensively, waiting for his teammates to get the puck and start the transition. He also can fly the zone early, looking to create a breakaway before its even sure that the puck will clear his end. Its something he must fix, or it will continue to drive coaches crazy.
Projection and Comparison
This is a real boom or bust pick. Sasha Chmelevski has incredible offensive talent, but there are real questions about his intensity on a night-to-night basis. There are games we have watched where he is the best player on the ice, and looks like an easy top 20 pick in the draft. Then there are games where he is invisible and looks disinterested. If he can solve this issue, Chmelevski could be a dynamic NHL player. In terms of a stylistic comparison, his game can be reminiscent of a centre version of Artemi Panarin. This is not a talent based comparison though.
The following is a compilation of videos, assembled from Youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect available on our draft board.