Entering his third season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with Baie-Comeau Drakkar, Ivan Chekhovich is off to a strong start, and the recent form he’s in could lead to a breakout year for the Russian forward.
After being drafted by the San Jose Sharks in the seventh round in 2017, Chekhovich went back to junior and didn’t have the jump in production that skill players see in their post-draft year season. The 19-year-old went from 26 to 29 goals and 59 to 60 points — not exactly the spike that would bring excitement.
However, Chekhovich ended last season on a high note; appearing in six games for the San Jose Barracuda and scoring nine points along, with two more in four playoff games. Although his stint in the American Hockey League was short, it was a confidence booster that catapulted him into the form that he’s showing so far this year.
Chekhovich also made an excellent first impression during his brief preseason appearance, scoring two goals and one assist against the Anaheim Ducks in the preseason opener. Peter DeBoer had some kind words for the young winger. “He goes and gets the puck, he’s inside, he plays the way we want to play. There’s a lot of good stuff there.”
These type of performances have since followed Chekhovich to the QMJHL where he’s one of the top players for a Drakkar. In six games so far, Chekhovich has scored six goals and 11 points. Currently, Chekhovich is second in the entire QMJHL in scoring only one point behind his Drakkar teammate in Nathan Légaré.
Sep 26, 2018 QMJHL: Ivan Chekhovich hat-trick vs Shawinigan— HockeyRU20 (@HockeyRU20) September 27, 2018
Despite his teammate leading the league in scoring, it’s Chekhovich who obtain the QMJHL’s player of the week award. Two years removed from being drafted, Chekhovich is starting to take off and see the spike in production that’s expected from older skill players.
If he continues on this pace, then he could throw his name into the list of candidates Jean Béliveau Trophy which is an award given to the league’s leading scorer. Also, at 19 Chekhovich has an opportunity to cement himself on Team Russia for the CIBC Canada/Russia Series and potentially suit up for the World Juniors in late December.
Along with the possibility of playing for his country, Chekhovich is on a solid Drakkar team who currently sit in first place in the QMJHL and are sixth in the Canadian Hockey League rankings. As one of the older players on his side, he’s going to have to shoulder some of the offensive load, as Drakkar look to have a long season ahead which could see them with a Presidents Cup and a Memorial Cup appearance.
2018/19 is shaping into a fun one for Chekhovich as a lot is going for him this season, and it helps that he’s getting off on the right foot. The potential is there to turn himself into a late-round gem shortly if he continues progressing at this current rate.