Photo Credit – OHL Images/Terry Wilson/Aaron Bell
Daniil Chayka is a 2021 NHL Draft eligible defenseman, who hails from Moscow, Russia. Chayka plays for the Guelph Storm of the Ontario Hockey League, but due to COVID-19, the Storm loaned him out to CSKA Moscow. The Russian defenseman played U16 hockey for CSKA Moscow before coming over to Ontario in 2017 to play GTHL hockey for the Toronto Jr. Canadiens U16 AAA squad. So, he returned to his old stomping ground this season.
Last season, in Guelph, Chayka proved to be a valued asset in both ends of the ice. With his excellent mobility, reach and gap control, Chayka limited high danger scoring chances. In the offensive zone, he showed off his booming shot and lit the lamp 11 times in 56 games played.
Since coming back to Russia, Chayka has played 18 games. He has played in seven games in the KHL for CSKA Moscow, five games for Zvezda Moscow (VHL), three games for Krasnaya Armiya Moscow (MHL) and three games for Russia at the Karjala Cup in Helsinki, Finland. Unfortunately, he has not registered a point at the VHL nor KHL level. The only points that he has recorded this season was at the Karjala Cup (one goal and two assists) and one point at the MHL level.
D.O.B – October 22, 2002
Nationality – Russia
Draft Eligibility – 2021
Weight –185 lbs
Position – Defense
Handedness – Left
Chayka’s Style Of Play
One of the most impressive attributes about Chayka’s play is his reach. But, his reach isn’t just good without the puck, it is good with the puck as well. With Chayka’s long frame, he uses his reach to his advantage. His reach allows him to take up more space, which gives him more room when possessing the puck. When Chayka does not have the puck and is playing in his own zone, his reach allows him to stand tall and intercept passes that are not coming to his immediate vicinity. If you have quality reach, you do not always have to hover around an attacker to shut down the play. Tight man to man defense isn’t always needed.
In the defensive zone, his play is quite similar to University of Michigan defenseman Owen Power. His defensive strategy is to play a more relaxed game until the puck crosses the perimeter. At that point, Chayka plays a bit tighter along the half-wall to eliminate lanes for the attacker to shift towards center ice. But, if the attacker is entering the zone on a quick rush and swings the puck around Chayka towards the boards, he tights up a lot earlier on. When the attack enters the zone through the middle of the ice, Chayka makes eye contact with the forward furthest along in the zone and he knows the trajectory of where that forward is headed. He quickly studies him and will find the best time to sneak in, which can lead to interceptions if the forward furthest along is waiting for one of his teammates to feed him a pass.
While he does play close to the vest, he is not a physical specimen. But, with his frame, it only behooves Chayka to develop a more physical playing style especially when looking to stop the cycle. The goal for Chayka should be to resemble the physical play that Kaiden Guhle (Montréal Canadiens prospect, Prince Albert Raiders defenseman) embodies. But, we do see some aggression, especially when net-front. When Chayka is net-front and battling against attackers who are looking to screen his goaltender, he takes an aggressive tone and pushes the attackers away from the crease.
Aside from his lack of physical play, I have enjoyed Chayka’s response to loose pucks and puck movement in general. Chayka is quick on his feet. He will quickly put on the jets to hunt down loose pucks and he will keep his foot on the gas when attackers make sudden changes in direction.
When it comes to transitional play, like most defensemen of his frame, he does not opt to go from zone-to-zone very often. Instead, he will look to make a breakout pass in the defensive zone. Unfortunately, sometimes Chayka is too quick with his breakout passing and does not complete an accurate assessment of the situation at hand. So, he will complete passes to the opposition or fail to get the puck to his teammate. On a lot of Chayka’s stretch passes, he seems to miss his target, which will sometimes lead to an icing.
In the offensive zone, I have noticed a difference between his play in the OHL versus his play in Russia. When playing in Russia, his offensive play is more laid back. He will pinch to go after loose pucks along the boards. He will distribute quality passes from the point and will take an occasional shot. But, his shots seem to go the goaltender’s pads for an easy stop. With the wider ice surface, I had wondered if he would struggle with his shot when moving back to Russia. It seems that he doesn’t have the ability to target a higher spot on the wider ice in Russia. During his play in the OHL, we have seen Chayka rip one-timer shots from the beyond perimeter and elevate a quality slap shot. In addition, Chayka was more inclined in Canada to jump into the slot and find open ice or look for a rebound to pick up and that is something that seems to be missing in his play in Russia.
Last, but not least, let’s talk about his skating. His stride reminds me a lot of Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara. For a bigger defenseman, Chayka has a quality stride. The extension is not too long. It seems to be at the perfect range. His stride allows him to pick up solid speed and he uses that speed to bolt after loose pucks. When on the blue-line, he has great length on his crossovers, which allow Chayka to move faster laterally than most because he doesn’t have to take as many crossovers to get him moving. Plus, he knows how to stutter step when completing crossovers. So, picture Tyreek Hill or Alvin Kamara stutter stepping to confuse the defender, Chayka can stutter step just like that and then fire a dart of a shot.
Shea Weber, Right Handed Defenseman, Montréal Canadiens
Like Shea Weber, both defensemen are roughly the same size and both possess excellent reach. In terms of physicality, Weber has shown to be more aggressive along the boards and provides big hits to neutralize the attack. If Chayka develops his physical play, the goal should be to be as physical as Weber. In addition, both defensemen have shown to have the ability to fire quality shots from the point, especially when on the power-play.
stats from InStat and EliteProspects
Prospect report written by Josh Tessler. If you would like to follow Josh on Twitter, his handle is @JoshTessler_.
Looking for other scouting reports? Check out the Prospects tab for our other scouting reports.
Need a scouting report on a particular prospect, contact us today!