Detroit Red Wings opt not to give qualifying offer to 2015 first-rounder Evgeny Svechnikov

Detroit Free Press

The relationship that began with such promise and humor in 2015 is over.

The Detroit Red Wings decided not to tend an offer to forward Evgeny Svechnikov by Monday’s deadline to qualify restricted free agents, his agent, Todd Diamond confirmed to the Free Press.

It is not a surprising development, given general manager Steve Yzerman placed Svechnikov on waivers last season. The 6-feet-3, 208-pound winger appeared in 21 games, producing three goals and five assists. In 41 career games, Svechnikov recorded five goals and seven assists.

Svechnikov, 24, becomes an unrestricted free agent.

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When the Wings selected Svechnikov at No. 19 in 2015, he had 32 goals and 46 assists in 55 games with Cape Breton in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He was billed as a complete package of size, skill and strength. Asked the night he was drafted what he liked about living in North America, the native of Russia smiled and replied, “chocolate milk and cookies.”

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Svechnikov showed promise his first year of pro hockey, recording 20 goals and 31 assists in 74 games with the Grand Rapids Griffins in 2016-17, followed by 12 points in 19 playoff games en route to the Calder Cup championship.

There were signs of growing pains in 2017-18. Svechnikov managed just seven goals and 16 assists in 57 games with GR, and two goals and two assists in in 14 games with the Wings.

Things got worse the following season. Svechnikov suffered a knee injury during exhibition season, requiring surgery that sidelined him throughout 2018-19.

Given such a long layoff, he looked better than anticipated at camp in 2019, but still began the season in Grand Rapids, where he had a goal and two assists his first game.

Svechnikov was yoyo-ed back and forth the rest of October, called up for three games only not to play, sent back to GR for two, called up to play in four games (no points), then sent back down two days before he could realize his dream of playing in the NHL against his younger brother, Carolina Hurricanes forward Andrei Svechnikov.

zerman extended Svechnikov for one year in the summer of 2020. His attempt to gain a foothold last season were thwarted when he left the Jan. 5 scrimmage with an apparent injury to his right arm, costing him a week of camp at a crucial time. He was placed on waivers, and, when he cleared, he was sent to the minors rather than assigned to the taxi squad that teams were allowed to have because of the pandemic.

Svechnikov was placed on waivers again in April, and exposed in July’s expansion draft.

Svechnikov is far from alone in being a first-round pick who hasn’t panned out. The Vancouver Canucks, to use an example from this week, cut loose Jake Virtanen, who they selected at No. 6 in 2014.

Svechnikov looked like a good pick in 2015. But in hindsight, the Wings could have had Brock Boeser, a right-shot forward taken by the Canucks at No. 23; he already has hit the 20-goal mark three times. Travis Konecny, a right-shot forward selected by the Philadelphia Flyers at No. 24, also is a three-time 20-goal scorer.

Contact Helene St. James at 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 Detroit Red Wings is available from AmazonBarnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.

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