After a tough overtime loss against the Panthers, Red Wings fans were greeted with more bad news this morning. Evgeny Svechnikov has been placed on waivers.
This is a hard move to explain. Svechnikov is only 24. This is not at all like the earlier decisions to place players like Valtteri Filppula and Frans Nielsen, both aged journeymen past their prime. Svech is a player that’s young, cheap, and provides some youth to the depth of this roster.
So why did this happen?
The short and sweet explanation is that it provides the Red Wings with more roster flexibility. This move almost guarantees that Bobby Ryan and/or Sam Gagner will be back from the injury reserve, and Svech will likely be the one slotted out of the lineup to allow one of the two back on the main roster. After playing 10 NHL games, Detroit had to place Svechnikov on waivers before sending him back down to the Grand Rapids Griffins.
In all likelihood, Svech will not be claimed. With Steve Yzerman as the GM, it’s unlikely that he made this kind of decision without making calls around the league first (maybe feeling out Svech’s market value). However, I’m not angry because I think Svech will be claimed. I’m angry becuase Svech should not be going back to Grand Rapids.
Svech Belongs in Detroit
Evgeny Svechnikov should not be heading back down to Grand Rapids. He has earned a spot on the lineup.
With three goals and two assists in Detroit, Svechnikov has more points than any other NHL season in his career. Those stats aren’t that impressive, until you start digging into his numbers.
Svech’s average time on ice is 10:47. That is the second lowest average TOI on the team (Givani Smith has an entire minute less). That means when guys like Nielsen and Filppula are starting, they are getting more ice time than Svech. So in ten games,
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with one of the lowest average TOI’s on the team, Svech is a half a point per game player. And now, he’s heading back to the minors.
Now, let’s be honest: this move is not going to make or break Detroit’s season. Svech is not the kind of player that is going to strengthen your team to the point of playoff contention. But Svech is 24 years old, and this is his last year on contract with Detroit. He is going to be a restricted free agent in the upcoming season. So, in a season where Detroit should want to know if Svech is going to be a part of team’s future, they are going to keep him in the AHL. With very limited ice time, Svech is at least shown that he’s at least competent as an NHL, with half a point per game in the big league. Why not keep him up longer, and see what happens? Why buy high (first round draft pick in 2015) and sell without knowing what you have?
I trust the Yzerplan as much as the next Red Wings fan, but this Svech situation has been a real headscratcher. Maybe Yzerman is just trying to get playing time out of trade assets. Maybe Yzerman really isn’t impressed with the former GM Ken Holland’s pick. I guess Detroit fans will have to wait until the April 12th trade deadline to figure that one out.