The Vegas Golden Knights called a timeout early in the second round of Day 2 of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, seemingly gearing up for a big move.
Instead, Vegas merely sent its early second-round pick (No. 36, acquired in the Nikita Gusev trade) to Detroit to move down two spots to No. 38, adding a fourth-round pick (No. 128) in the transaction.
The Knights used pick No. 38 to draft defenseman Daniil Chayka.
Chayka spent the 2020-21 season in Russia, splitting his time between CSKA of the KHL as well as the VHL and MHL (minor and junior leagues, respectively). He recorded a combined seven points in 26 games.
However, he put up solid numbers in his second year with the Guelph Storm of the OHL, potting 11 goals and 34 points in 56 games, a 20-point increase from his 2018-19 campaign. He likes to jump in rushes and has a booming shot, though he’s strong in the defensive zone.
The 6-foot-3, 187-pound rearguard is known for his long reach, which he uses to break up plays and cover ground in the defensive zone. He has strong mobility and NHL-level skating ability, and he makes a strong first pass.
He struggled with Team Russia at the World Juniors and is coming off a down year, but he has great potential and a lot of appealing tools in his skill set. He plans to return to the OHL next season.
According to Scott Wheeler of The Athletic, Chayka is “a long defender whose active stick breaks up a lot of plays in the neutral zone and is comfortable enough with the puck at the offensive-zone blue line that the Russians have used him on power-play units when he has played with his age group (though that’s not saying a lot given the state of the 2002 and 2003 birth years of Russian defensemen).
“I do find that his long stick can hinder him at the point, where his wrist shots come off of his stick softly because of a high grip and a stilted posture, but he’s decently mobile side-to-side, he gets his shot through consistently, and he takes away a lot of space inside his own zone as well as defending the rush (though I have seen speedier players burn him wide and his pivots still need some work).”
Chayka was the fifth-ranked European skater by Central Scouting.