Being swapped between an NHL team’s roster and their minor league affiliate is a part of being a hockey player. This year, Evgeny Svechnikov had to deal with more than his fair share of shuffling – it’s a shock he wasn’t treated for whiplash for the amount of times he was whipped between the NHL, the AHL, the taxi squad and even the waiver wire. Let’s dive into more than just the roster movement and examine Svechnikov’s season on the ice with the Red Wings.
Games Played: 21
Bottom-six forward/Borderline NHLer
2021 Season in a Nutshell
Another year, another season where fans failed to get a good read on Evgeny Svechnikov’s future with the team.
The team’s treatment of Svech was often a point of frustration for fans throughout the season. The infamous “he needs to earn his minutes” quote by Blashill was often used against him; when Svech illustrated any sort of capability as an NHL player, it seemed he was a healthy scratch the very next game. He finished the season averaging less than 12 minutes of ice time in his limited games as a Red Wings (11:49 per hockey-reference.com), and more than a few times he received as little as eight minutes on the ice. Svechnikov was even placed on waivers twice the season to
give the organization more roster flexibility.
The confusing part is that Svechnikov was actually good when he was on the ice. He nabbed 8 points (3-5) in 21 games, and showed off a bit with his deadly-accurate shot on a couple of his goals. Svech was the type of player that you don’t really notice on the ice until you make a mistake, and he has the shot to capitalize on it. He also quietly helped the offensive along, holding a 47.2 CF%.
They Said It
“Production does matter and the fact that he’s a point a game is probably why he’s in the lineup right now ahead of some other guys. He just needs to make sure that he wins every shift, make sure that he’s accountable, make sure he’s … you know… you have to play as a five man unit and so to play as a five-man unit you have to make sure everybody’s doing their jobs, so he has to make sure he’s doing his job in each particular instance. He’s got to make sure that he’s winning battles by skating. If he does that, I think he can be an effective player, so we’ll see.”
-Jeff Blashill via the Detroit Free Press
The treatment that Svechnikov received this year was just confusing. When he was on the roster, he looked like a player that could actually contribute offensively, a trait desperately needed on one of the worst offensive teams in the NHL. While players like Darren Helm regularly became a part of the lineup (Helm had the same amount of points as Svechnikov in more than twice the games), Svech wasted away on either the taxi squad or the Griffins, stuck in a purgatory that he was inexplicably unable to escape from. The best explanation? Just not a fit in the good ‘ol Blashill system. A defensive lapse for a young player in Blashill’s system often means cut ice time or a healthy scratch, and Svechnikov wasn’t exactly rock solid defensively. It’s unfortunate, but based on the limited ice time and the visits to the waiver wire, it looks like Svech’s time in Detroit is coming to an end. Here’s to hoping he can find some success in a more-fitting scheme.