This week, the Colorado Avalanche announced that they had signed Igor Shvyrev, the 125th overall selection in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft to a three-year entry-level contract. The 19-year old Russian center adds some depth to the organization and will likely play a big role as the Colorado Eagles make their jump to the AHL next season.
Most hockey fans in North America don’t know a whole lot about Shvyrev. Playing in the MHL, he was passed over during his first year of eligibility in the NHL draft. After a tremendous 18-year old season, the Avalanche took a flier on him last season, and now it looks like that gamble is paying off. Though he wasn’t drafted until the 5th round, many draft analysts thought he had the talent to go a lot higher, but that he fell because most believed it would be hard to get him to leave Russia.
Last season, Shvyrev had only one goal in 32 games with Metallurg Magnitogosk of the KHL. He averaged very little ice time and spent a number of games sitting on the bench without getting a single shift. We don’t know for sure, but this is likely a big reason why he is choosing to leave the KHL to start his professional career with the Avalanche organization.
Now, the question is, how will his game translate to the AHL - and hopefully, eventually to the NHL. In an attempt to figure this out, let’s look at the 17-year old production of some prominent Russian players during their time in the MHL - the MHL being the Molodezhnaya Hokkeinaya Liga, loosely translated to Youth Hockey League.
U18 Production in the MHL
As you can see Shvyrev’s production as a 17-year old was pretty good. On a point per game basis, he outproduced Klim Kostin - who played with the San Antonio Rampage last season and was selected 94 picks ahead of Shvyrev in the same draft. That production in his U18 season paints the picture of a player that has a ton of potential. To go along with his MHL production that season, he had one assist in five games for Russia at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament and made a single appearance in the KHL playing for Mettalurg as a 17-year old.
His next season was even more impressive.
U19 Production in the MHL
It’s harder to draw comparisons during his 18-year old season as many NHL-caliber Russians make the jump to the CHL or even the KHL at this point. Since he is a later birth date in relation to the rest of his draft class, Shvyrev stayed in the MHL for most of his U19 season.
Seventy points in 40 games is pretty darn impressive. It’s even more impressive when you compare it to the 44 points in 38 games Artemi Panarin put up in the same league at the same age. He produced at a 1.75 point per game pace while playing as a two-way center and winning over 56% of his faceoffs and he was still passed over 124 times in his second attempt at the draft. Eventually the Avalanche figured the potential reward was worth the risk of spending a 5th round pick on a player that might play his whole career in Russia.
For two full seasons before making the jump to the KHL last year, Shvyrev produced at a level that should have seen him get drafted a lot higher than 125th overall. Of course this is production in junior hockey...in Russia, so of course we have to take it with a huge grain of salt. That said, what we can do is compare his production to NHLers that played in the same league. And when doing that, the outlook on Shvyrev making it to the NHL seems pretty good.
He only cost the Avalanche a 5th round pick - and now an ELC. He might only ever become organizational depth and offensive production at the AHL level - and that would still be great value for #125 overall. If nothing else, it’s going to be fun to watch Shvyrev’s development with the Eagles this season, and hopefully we’ll get a chance to see him in the NHL before too long.