It’s been a little while since the San Jose Sharks have had a farm system to really get excited about. They’ve had the luxury of drafting some flourishing young talent in recent years, but none of them seem as sensationalized as the group Team Teal has in Minor and Junior leagues at this moments.
One of the most eye opening callow skaters, Russian born Ivan Chekhovich, burst onto the San Jose Sharks scene during this preseason. Drafted in the 7th round during the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. In an exhibition game against the Anaheim Ducks the young skater compiled 3 primary points with 2 of them being goals.
Although he impressed during the early stages of the 2018 – 2019 campaign his time with the big club was short lived. After his debut for the San Jose Sharks he was swiftly sent down to his Junior league team the Baie-Comeau Drakkar of the QMJHL.
That decision seems to have been the right one. Ivan Chekhovich is taking advantage of his ice time down in the “Q”. He’s lighting the lamp at a ridiculous pace. He’s leading the league in scoring with 22 goals and is 4th in points compiling 44 through 27 games played. Not too shabby for the #212th pick overall.
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The three time player of the week in the QMJHL has been a pleasant surprise over the first 10 weeks of the season. His current goal and point totals are extremely impressive considering the young Russian has only scored an average of 59.5 points in the previous 2 season for Baie-Comeau Drakker. This year Chekhovich is on pace to almost double that total during the 2018 – 2019 campaign.
Chekhovich produces a major chunk of his goals because the kid can shoot the puck. His ability to find good shooting lanes and pick corners of the net have been on display this season for the Baie-Comeau Drakkar. He’s capable of producing on special teams, but does most of his damage on 5v5.
His 17 goals under those circumstances lead the league and by a pretty decent margin. It’s impressive that he’s able to be more productive when their is less ice and more bodies to work with in front of the net.
His emergence in the San Jose Sharks system is a timely one. Team Teal has been shipping off a significant portion of their high tier draft picks and prospects to supplement the big club. So getting value out of their lower tier draft picks is essential for a franchise that is trying to maximize their potential for as long as possible.
Judging by what he’s exhibited in the QMJHL, AHL, NHL preseason, and most recently the CIBC Canada/Russia Series Chekhovich doesn’t like the puck on his stick all that much. It’s not a bad trait to have especially in an extremely fast paced NHL. Whenever you watch Chekhovich on the ice you can see that he’s constantly trying to distribute the puck.
Whether that be dishing it off to a teammate in open ice or launching a quick wrist shot aimed at stick blades or corners of the net. Those aspects of his game will convert nicely into today’s league where players have very little time to react with the puck on their stick blade before getting bombarded by checkers.
Chekhovich’s skating capacity is above average with the ability to accelerate to his top speed rather quickly. The NHL is paced a little differently than the Junior and Minor leagues that the young prospect is accustomed too, but his straight line speed is something that should fill scouts and coaching staffs with a bode of confidence.
The San Jose Sharks have done a masterful job of taking advantage of their lower tier draft picks and utilizing free agency via the foreign market. Picks like a Chekhovich are a combination of both of those efforts. Team Teal has struggled to hit on their high end draft picks with only 3 of their previous 7 first round picks still being apart of their franchise.
Ivan Chekhovich has been a pleasant surprise for San Jose Sharks fans who were wary of the depth of talent that’s apart of the San Jose Sharks farm system. Team Teal is pretty light on draft picks in the upcoming years so making good selections is key. Along with other players like Ryan Merkley and Alexander Chmelevski the Sharks prospect pool is worth getting excited about.
Look for Chekhovich to perpetuate this level of play throughout the remainder of the season. Something to look forward to is his eventual call up to the Barracuda to help them with their Calder Cup run later in the year.