With the NHL Entry Draft less than two weeks away, the Boston Bruins have a big decision to make when it comes to their first round pick. The 2021 Draft Class is known for being a bit unpredictable, so it is hard to determine who exactly the Bruins will be taking 20th overall. Scott Wheeler of The Athletic has the team reaching with it, though. He predicts that the Bruins will take Russian defenseman, Daniil Chayka.
Chayka has had a very intriguing journey through juniors so far. He originally played in the OHL for the Guelph Storm and put up pretty solid statistics for a defenseman. His best season came in 2019-20 with them, as he scored 11 goals and registered 34 points in 56 games. Thus, there appears to be offensive upside in his game.
He spent this season working on his craft back in Russia on a loan. He played in the MHL, VHL, but most notably, the KHL. In 11 KHL games, the 18-year-old produced a goal and an assist. Those aren’t jaw-dropping totals, but it is impressive that he managed to get some playing time in their most competitive league.
At this time, Chayka’s rankings are all over the place. Bob McKenzie had him ranked 19th overall, but Elite Prospects has him all the way down at 77th in their final rankings. Therefore, it is apparent that experts have mixed reviews and expectations on the young defenseman. However, when looking at his success in the OHL at such a young age, he may be worth the gamble.
Although Chayka would need more time to develop before making the Bruins, he is a left-handed defenseman. This is where the Bruins arguably need the most assistance and he could be a fantastic long-term option.
Yet, it is important to note that the Bruins do not go after Russians all that often. The last player to suit up for the Bruins who was born in Russia was former prospect Alexander Khokhlachev during the 2015-16 season. This is a small fact, but also something to keep in mind when looking forward to the draft.
At the end of the day, reaching for a guy like Chayka does not seem like a bad idea, though. He has showed strong promise and may have the potential to develop into a top-four defenseman of the future. We shall see if Wheeler is correct with his prediction very soon.