Evgeny Svechnikov (or Evgeni or Yevgeni), is finally hitting his stride in his first professional season of hockey. The 6’3″ 205lb native of Russia has 13 goals and 10 assists in 42 games played so far this season, which puts him 2nd in rookie scoring behind Kyle Criscuolo and ahead of Joe Hicketts (I’ve talked about both of them here already this season, check it out if you want to know more about their rookie years so far).
Svechnikov, the 2015 1st round 19th overall pick by Detroit, has 2 OHL seasons with the QMJHL’s Cape Breton Screaming Eagles under his belt. In his first season, 2014-15, he was 3rd on the team for points and 2nd league wide for rookie points with 78 (32 goals, 46 assists). He was once again 3rd on the team for points and tied for 18th in the league in 2015-2016 with 79 (32 goals, 47 assists). That’s a 1 point improvement in 2 seasons, though in 5 less games. Additionally, he played 13 games in the playoffs that year and put up another 15 points (4 goals, 11 assists).
The Wings have to hope that they have another solid 1st round pick in Svechnikov as they did with Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha before him. Both of those players have become huge members of the Wings’ Top 6, and adding Svechnikov will only make them more dangerous. He is described as a strong skater with a very powerful, accurate shot and as someone who excels at finding the open areas in the offensive zone in order to get said shot off.
Much like Anthony Mantha, he didn’t explode immediately in the AHL, but now that he is settling in Svechnikov is really heating up. He is currently riding a 4 game point streak and has passed Criscuolo, who he plays on a line with, for the rookie goal lead and is only 1 point behind for the overall rookie scoring lead. If he keeps up his current pace Svechnikov should lead all Griffins rookies in points by the end of the season, and possibly leading the Griffins in goals.
Cape Breton Highlights
Credit to TheHockeyViz, I don’t love the choice of music but it’s hard to find QMJHL highlights so props for that. I’m not going to break down this whole video, but you can see Svech loves to shoot the puck with a quick release, and he has quite a bit of accuracy when he does so. I love the goal where he shoots it so quick he spins, and doesn’t even realize he has scored. With offensive instincts like his I’m not surprised he was considered a 1st round pick.
1-27 vs San Jose Barracuda
This is a trickler of a goal but I like the play in the corner and how much lift Svechnikov gets on the tight angle shot. I think back to the Mantha goal earlier in the season when he had the control to put it perfectly in the corner above the goalie’s shoulder. These get called “garbage” goals a lot but never underestimate a player with the foresight to put the puck in the only space he has. It doesn’t trickle through if its off the goalie’s pads.
1-21 vs Cleveland Monsters
On the doorstep, backhand forehand five hole. Nice goal. You don’t need me to tell you that.
1-20 vs Chicago Wolves
This is deflected by Ford, but I love the stick work to get the puck away after the Wolves’ player misplays it and then to get the shot through both defensemen so that it can be deflected at all. He gets the puck, passes it, then shoots it to the perfect place for the deflection in the span of 3 seconds.
This goal maybe me laugh. Nice toe drag to get into position for the shot but come on. I can’t analyze the goalie accidentally punching it into their own net. Let’s have a chuckle and move on.
1-13 vs Milwaukee Admirals
Svech is the one in the top corner if you can’t tell from the angle. Helps with the cycle and then gets into position for the rebound. You can see he’s already getting into position for the potential rebound and he once again makes an accurate shot with very little time to take it.
*To do: copy paste some blurb from Ovechkin one timer highlight here*
1-6 vs Charlotte Checkers
Another one timer goal. Maybe this is place were I bring up that the Wings are going to need a set up player or many of these type goals don’t happen. It’s been a big problem this season setting up goals on the PowerPlay and the Griffins have a much better PP%, so maybe Svechnikov is the type of player who can help since he actually shoots the puck.
12-21 vs Milwaukee Admirals
I love breakaways. You know what I love more than breakaways? Players who can actually score on the breakaways. Maybe it’s the fact that Darren Helm has been my favorite player for the past 5 years or so but I love watching a player getting out behind the defense and then burying it. Little fake back and forth, five hole. Beautiful.
Oh my, why hadn’t they played this game before I wrote the Hicketts piece? He was dominant. There was a great hip check and fight before this goal too. But this piece is about Svechnikov, and after Hicketts does an AMAZING keep in at the blue line, Svech with another great give and go before he roofs it for his second of the game.
10-7 vs Toronto Maple Leafs (Preseason)
Preseason goal capper. Another quick release shot, glove side top shelf. If I have learned one thing from going through these highlights, it’s that I don’t want Evgeny Svechnikov shooting at me from anywhere. He has the ability to put it in with very little time. I believe that’s Jhonas Enroth too, so he’s scoring on someone with NHL experience.
Svechnikov is still adjusting to his first season in the AHL but he is really starting to click. He brings a killer shot from several areas of the ice and an accuracy to match, a long with being able to get to the right areas of the ice to take said shot. I would not be surprised to see him as one of the top 3 goal scorers on the Griffins this year, and a key part of a playoff push for them. I definitely am excited to see him on the Red Wings in the future, especially with the powerplay in the dire straits it is now. That said, I am hesitant to rush him along when I don’t think he will magically fix the Red Wings. I expect him to be in Grand Rapids next season barring either an amazing training camp + preseason or injury. But rest assured Wings fans, that this is another prospect who is living up to the hype.