There was plenty of hype around Andrei Svechnikov coming into his first season with the Barrie Colts and the Russian import delivered on those expectations in a big way.
On April 20, he was recognized for those efforts when he was named the winner of the Emms Family Award, presented to the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) Rookie of the Year. Svechnikov, who was also named to the OHL First All-Rookie Team, led all league rookies with 40 goals and 32 assists in just 44 games.
Despite missing some six weeks of the season with a hand injury, his points-per-game mark of 1.64 was fifth best in the OHL this season.
“I am extremely happy to accept this award as the OHL’s Rookie of the Year,” said the 18-year-old from Barnaul, Russia who is the top ranked prospect among North American skaters for the 2018 NHL Draft. “I’d like to thank my coaches and teammates for all of the help they have given me this year to achieve this goal. I am very excited.”
Svechnikov, the first overall pick in the 2017 Canadian Hockey League Import Draft, is the fourth Colt in franchise history to be named the league’s top rookie, following Aaron Ekblad (2012), Bryan Little (2004) and Sheldon Keefe (1999). In voting for the award, Svechnikov earned 86 of a possible 95 points, ahead of forward Cam Hillis of the Guelph Storm who finished with 37 points. Hamilton Bulldogs forward Arthur Kaliyev finished third with 31 points.
“We are really proud of Andrei for the season he had with our club,” said Colts general manager Jason Ford. “He came into the lineup and made an immediate impact. We feel that the composure he showed on and off the ice, really excelled his game to this level, which ultimately earned himself this award. We could not be more proud of him for what he did this past year and we wish him the best of luck at the NHL Draft this June in Dallas.”
Svechnikov started and finished his rookie season strong. He had a pair of goals in his OHL debut against the Ottawa 67’s on Sept. 21 and wrapped up the season on an OHL-best 23-game point streak that ran from Jan. 18 to Mar. 17. Named OHL Rookie of the Month four of the six times the award was announced, the six-foot-three, 184-pound right winger recorded 24 multi-point games.
The Russian National Junior Team member was also recognized in the annual OHL Coaches Poll where he was voted the Best Skater and had the second Best Shot in the Eastern Conference.
Svechnikov is joined on the OHL All-Rookie First Team by Owen Sound Attack goaltender Mack Guzda, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds defenceman Rasmus Sandin, London Knights defenceman Alec Regula, Saginaw Spirit left winger Blade Jenkins and Hillis.
Colts forward Ryan Suzuki, the first overall pick in the OHL Priority Selection, was named to the OHL All-Rookie Second Team. Suzuki had 14 goals and 30 assists for 44 points in 64 games this season.
The Emms Family Award was donated by Leighton “Hap” Emms, former owner of the Barrie, Niagara Falls and St. Catharines OHL franchises. The award is selected by all 20 OHL general managers.
Teams could only submit one nominee from their own club for consideration and can’t vote for the player on their own team. Players received five points for a first-place vote, three points for a second-place vote and one point for a third-place vote.
Photo: Barrie Colts forward Andrei Svechnikov was named the OHL Rookie of the Year. Svechnikov, who is the top-rated North American skater for this year’s NHL Draft, had 40 goals and 32 assists in just 44 games with Barrie this season. Terry Wilson/OHL Images photo.