Name: Evgeny Svechnikov
Selected: Round 1 (19th overall)
Weight: 199 lbs.
Birthday: 10/31/96 (19 years old)
Current Team: Grand Rapids Griffins
Heading into the 2015 NHL Entry Draft last summer, many experts had Ken Holland and the Detroit Red Wings using their first-round pick to select one of two talented European forwards, Joel Eriksson Ek of Sweden, or Evgeny Svechnikov of Russia. So when Detroit's Director of Amateur Scouting, Tyler Wright, stepped up to the podium in Sunrise, Florida to announce that the Red Wings were indeed selecting Svechnikov with the19th overall pick, it did not come as a much of surprise.
In addition to his appealing size, Svechnikov is billed as a smooth-skating and skilled winger who posses a remarkable shot accompanied by a magical set of hands. Does this discreption sound vaguely familiar to another Russian who fans in Hockeytown have come to know and love?
Now, I am by no means saying that Evgeny Svechnikov is the second coming of Pavel Datsyuk, nor would I ever unfairly utter such blasphemy, but I am saying that Svechnikov is an extremely talented young Russian hockey player that fans of the Detroit Red Wings should very much look forward to wearing the winged wheel someday.
Where Is He Now?
After being drafted by the Red Wings, Evgeny returned to the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles of the QMJHL for the 2015-16 season. For a second consecutive year, Svechnikov put up 30-plus goals and 40-plus assists while playing in at least 50 regular-season games. Evgeny also tallied four goals and 11 assists in 13 post-season games with the Screaming Eagles in 2015-16.
With the Screaming Eagles being eliminated from the QMJHL playoffs, the Grand Rapids Griffins wasted little time in bringing Svechnikov in as a depth player as the Griffins prepared to face the Lake Erie Monsters in the Central Division Finals of the AHL Calder Cup playoffs. Evgeny wasn't expected to get much playing time in the series but with injuries to Martin Frk and Eric Tangradi of the Griffins, Evgeny was inserted into games five and six of the series.
During his debut appearance in game five of the series versus Lake Erie, Svechnikov notched an assist and provided a strong net front presence for the Griffins on their power play unit. The assist would be Svechnikov's only point during his brief AHL appearance, but Evgeny displayed many of the qualities that the Detroit Red Wings drafted him for.
Svechnikov also earned praise from Griffins head coach Todd Nelson during his call-up:
"I thought he played well in the games that he played. It’s asking a lot for a 19-year-old kid to come in there and try to produce some offense, but I thought he handled it well. He’s a big body, he protects the puck well and, I think, as he matures, he’s gonna be a fantastic hockey player."
Much like the Red Wings, the Griffins will be facing several roster decisions next season, one of which may be whether or not to keep Evgeny Svechnikov on their roster. Barring a phenomenal training camp, it will be a long-shot for Svechnikov to make the Red Wings' lineup next season, so he more than likely will continue to hone and develop his game with the Griffins in the AHL.
Svechnikov brings a lot to the table for the future of the Detroit Red Wings. He's big, gritty, and not afraid to get to the dirty areas of the ice. I can see this kid learning a lot about "pulling the piano" from Justin Abdelkader down the road as Detroit continues to transition into a younger team.
Along with his grit, Evgeny also brings a great offensive awareness with a knack for finding the back of the net. Like a lot of young players, Svechnikov needs to work on and improve his two-way game, but the future is undoubtedly bright for this young Russian power forward.