Evgeny Svechnikov and the Detroit Red Wings agreed on a deal that makes the most sense.
The Wings extended their first pick in the 2015 draft for one year, the team announced Sunday afternoon.
It’s been a turbulent five years since the Wings selected the lanky Russian; he was billed as a package of size, strength, competitiveness and skill, but that has yet to show at the NHL level. Svechnikov had a good first year of pro hockey, turning in 20 goals and 31 assists in 74 games with the Grand Rapids Griffins in 2016-17, and contributing 12 points in 19 playoffs games en route to the 2017 Calder Cup championship.
Svechnikov endured growing pains his second year, scoring just seven goals among 23 points in 57 games with the Griffins, and tallying four points in 14 games with the Wings. His 2018-19 season was a wash, wiped out after suffering a knee injury during an exhibition game that required reconstructive surgery.
Svechnikov, 23, had a better than expected camp last year (considering he had not played hockey for a year) but started the season in GR, where he has three points his first game. The Wings called him up but didn’t play him, sent him back to the Griffins for two games (he had one assist) and then recalled him and put him in the lineup for four games. He spent the rest of the season with the Griffins, recording 11 goals and 14 assists in 51 games.
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The 2020-21 season — tentatively slated to start in December — is a big one for Svechnikov. He is no longer waiver exempt, but has to prove he belongs in the lineup. That’s why a one-year deal makes sense: The Wings need to know what they have in Svechnikov, and he needs to prove he deserves a longer contract. He’ll still be a restricted free agent when the extension expires, meaning the Wings will still hold his rights.
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Svechnikov’s work ethic can’t be faulted, but at this point, it does not look like a good pick. The Wings could have had Brock Boeser, who already has 75 goals in 197 games with the Vancouver Canucks, who grabbed him at 23rd overall. Travis Konecny has 185 points in 299 career games with the Philadelphia Flyers, who took him at 24th.
Contact Helene St. James at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Men and Moments that made the Detroit Red Wings will be published in October by Triumph Books. To preorder, go to Amazon.