On Tuesday morning, the Detroit Red Wings announced that forward Bobby Ryan would be day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Ryan, who sits third on the roster for scoring, will be sorely missed. Unfortunately, replacing his offensive output would be no small feat. Who among the Red Wings could fill in for Ryan while he recovers? The answer? 2015 1st round pick Evgeny Svechnikov.
The 24-year-old Russian has four points in four games with the Red Wings this season. He’s proven to be more than capable on a middle-six role and could easily fill in for Ryan. With Ryan out for the foreseeable future, this appears to be Svechnikov’s time to shine.
Evgeny Svechnikov’s Progress So Far
Svechnikov has had a season full of surprises. He’s played up and down the Red Wings’ lineup and spent a significant amount of time on the taxi squad. When he isn’t relegated to taxi squad duties, he’s filling in for the Red Wings’ AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins. Svechnikov’s last NHL game was against the Carolina Hurricanes and his brother Andrei Svechnikov. Many fans hoped that Evgeny would remain with the team after his recent play. His recent relegation to the Griffins was a head-scratcher for many fans. Head coach Jeff Blashill had this to say regarding Svechnikov:
“Larks (Dylan Larkin) was going in that spot on the power play, so that’s going to diminish his ice time. I liked the combination of Brome (Mathias Brome) with Ras (Michael Rasmussen) and Bobby (Ryan) there, so that was the line we went with.” – Jeff Blashill
He’s shown an immense amount of promise this season, scoring at a point-per-game pace in the NHL across four games. While those numbers aren’t sustainable, they showcase a lot of growth in his game. Before his season-ending knee surgery last season, Svechnikov had just four points in 24 NHL games. He’s now doubled that in one sixth of the time. There’s no denying that Svechnikov is NHL-ready — he just needs to prove it to his coach.
How Svechnikov Can Secure A Long-Term Role
The next few games will be pivotal for Svechnikov. With Ryan out, opportunity on the top-six has arisen. Svechnikov will need to be on his A-game if he wants to remain with the NHL roster. Blashill has mentioned before that he doesn’t judge players based solely on production. Svechnikov will need to show that he’s just as good off the puck as he is on the puck.
In an interview with the Detroit Free Press, Blashill specifically mentioned that Svechnikov would have an opportunity on the power play unit. If he can keep up his torrid scoring pace while maintaining a strong two-way game, he’ll secure a spot on the team’s middle-six. How long he stays will be determinant on how quickly Ryan recovers and the direction Blashill envisions this roster taking. Svechnikov has the chance to make a serious case for himself. With strong enough play, he can show Blashill that he has no intentions of letting his opportunity go to waste.
Tuesday Night Preview: Svechnikov vs. Svechnikov
If Blashill keeps his lineup from Sunday’s game, Svechnikov will play on the third line alongside Rasmussen and Brome. These three younger players have a chance to develop some serious chemstry together. Keeping them together for as long as possible will be tantamount to Svechnikov’s development. In addition to this, Evgeny will have another chance to face off against his brother, Andrei. Playing against him last time around seemed to ignite a confident flame within him. If he can replicate the results and help drive play with his linemates, Evgeny Svechnikov may be able to secure a spot on the roster for the rest of the season. It all comes down to tonight.