Svechnikov re-establishing his position in Wings’ future plans
Evgeny Svechnikov has two game-winning goals in the Wings’ first four preseason games.
As the Red Wings’ top draft choice in 2015, Evgeny Svechnikov has been overshadowed by the first-round selections of the past three years.
But Svechnikov, a 6-3, 215-pound right wing, is making a name for himself during the preseason schedule. Svechnikov, 21, who has seen time with Detroit during the last two seasons, has two game-winning goals in the Wings’ first four preseason games, helping the Wings to a 4-0 start.
His goal late in the third period broke a tie as Detroit went on to defeat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-2 in the Wings’ second preseason game Sept. 20 at Little Caesars Arena. Then, two nights later also at LCA, Svechnikov’s goal 1:42 into overtime gave the Wings a 3-2 win over the Boston Bruins.
Svechnikov posted good numbers – 20 goals and 51 points in 74 games – in his first full professional season, 2016-17 with Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League. But an early injury delayed the start of his 2017-18 season, and he managed only seven goals and 23 points in 57 games with the Griffins last season. He had two goals and four points with the Red Wings in 14 games.
“I had a strong finish at the end of the year, better second half,” Svechnikov told www.mlive.com at the beginning of training camp. “I’m going to bring that with me to camp and be more consistent during the season and just be stronger.”
Improving his skating is a must for Svechnikov. To that end, he did a lot of running and track work as part of his training during the summer as he worked out with his brother, Andrei, who was the second overall selection in June’s NHL draft, taken by the Carolina Hurricanes.
“They spent a lot of time on the track, trying to get those fast-twitch muscles going,” Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “I think that’s a positive, just help his skating.”
Svechnikov said his efforts were successful.
“Skating and just tracking off the ice,” he said. “A lot of sprints and long runs. It was hard, really hard, for two months.
“It was like three days a week with tracking. Every practice was different – 400 meters, 300 meters, 200, 100. Then another sprint and a little bit break and then another sprint. It's just crazy. It was hard.”
Svechnikov is battling with fellow first-round picks Michael Rasmussen (2017) and this year’s top pick Filip Zadina as well as veterans Martin Frk, who’s been out all camp with a groin injury, and Luke Witkowski.
“Part of his responsibility is to make sure there’s 12 spots open to him on the forward group, so he’s got to make sure he’s got great depth in his game,” Blashill said after Svechnikov’s OT winner. “So, if it is a fourth-line spot that’s open, then you got to beat (fewer) guys out. To be top-nine, you got to beat more guys out and there’s less room for error.
“I think he needs to make sure he's responsible, that he's heavy on the puck and that he adds offense without giving up a whole bunch of chances.”
Blashill added: “I thought he had a good game tonight.”
Svechnikov says, so far, so good.
“I feel it, but it’s still early to talk about,” he said. “It’s only preseason games, so hoping during the year it will be a little bit better.”