In an expected move, Detroit assigned three players to the Grand Rapid Griffins. Forward Evgeny Svechnikov, defenseman Joe Hicketts, and goaltender Tom McCollum were assigned April 4.
While most fans would have liked to see Hicketts and Svechnikov play a few more games in the NHL this season, the expectation was always that they would return to Grand Rapids for the Calder Cup playoffs. With 5 AHL games left to play, the Griffins’ magic number to clinch a playoff berth in the very close Central division currently stands at 3.
Both Svechnikov and Hicketts have shown enough in their latest call-ups that they should be considered top contenders to make the jump to the NHL full-time next season.
Here’s the official press release from the team:
DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings today assigned right wing Evgeny Svechnikov, defenseman Joe Hicketts and goaltender Tom McCollum to the American Hockey League’s Grand Rapids Griffins.
Svechnikov, 21, has skated in 14 games with the Red Wings this season, logging four points (2-2-4), eight penalty minutes, 15 shots on goal, 15 hits and six blocked shots. After making his NHL debut by playing two games in the 2016-17 season, Svechnikov scored his first NHL goal on March 20 vs. Philadelphia and picked up his first career multi-point game on March 29 at Buffalo (1-1-2). The second-year pro has also tallied 22 points (7-15-22) and 56 penalty minutes in 52 games with the Griffins, including 17 points (5-12-17) in his last 25 games with the team. Svechnikov won a Calder Cup with Grand Rapids as a rookie in 2016-17, ranking third on the team with 51 points (20-31-51) in 74 regular-season games and adding 12 points (5-7-12) in 19 postseason contests. The 6-foot-3, 212-pound forward finished fourth in AHL rookie scoring during the regular season and placed third in that category during the Calder Cup Playoffs.
Originally drafted by the Red Wings in the first round (19th overall) of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Svechnikov spent two seasons with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and notched 157 points (64-93-157) and 167 penalty minutes in 105 games prior to turning professional. The Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Russia, native has also represented Russia several times on the international circuit, winning silver medals at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship, the 2013 World Junior A Challenge and the 2013 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
Hicketts, 21, has played in five games for Detroit, posting three assists, a plus-five rating, two penalty minutes, two shots on goal, nine hits and 12 blocked shots. The second-year pro made his NHL debut on Jan. 22 at New Jersey and picked up his first two career points (0-2-2) on March 27 vs. Pittsburgh. Hicketts has also logged 63 games with the Griffins, notching 10 points (3-7-10) and 32 penalty minutes. In his first season with the Griffins in 2016-17, Hicketts led the team’s defensemen with 34 points (7-27-34) in 73 games, which ranked seventh among first-year AHL blueliners. Hicketts also led Griffins defensemen in postseason scoring after picking up eight points (1-7-8) in 19 games en route to helping the team capture its second AHL championship in five seasons. In 136 career AHL games, he has tallied 44 points (10-34-44), 72 penalty minutes and a plus-two rating.
Originally signed by the Red Wings as an undrafted free agent in September 2014, the 5-foot-8, 180-pound defenseman spent four seasons with the Western Hockey League’s Victoria Royals from 2012-16, serving the last two years as the team’s captain and posting back-to-back 60-point seasons. Hicketts totaled 173 points (32-141-173), 149 penalty minutes and a plus-69 rating in 224 games with the Royals and was a WHL West Second-Team All-Star in 2015 and First-Team All-Star in 2016. Internationally, the Kamloops, British Columbia, native represented Canada twice at the IIHF World Junior Championship, winning gold in 2015 and serving as an alternate captain for the team in 2016 while totaling six points (1-5-6) in 12 games over the two tournaments. He also earned medals at three other tournaments for his country, winning gold at the 2014 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, picking up a silver at the 2013 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge and earning bronze at the 2014 World Under-18 Championship.
McCollum, 28, was recalled by the Red Wings on Tuesday to serve as the team’s backup goalie during the team’s 5-4 overtime loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. The ninth-year pro has made 34 appearances for Grand Rapids this season, posting an 18-13-3 record, 2.71 goals-against average, 0.909 save percentage and one shutout. He has won each of his last six starts, helping the Griffins climb to a second-place tie in the Central Division on the heels of a seven-game point streak (6-0-0-1) with five games to play in the AHL’s regular season. The Sanborn, N.Y., native became the Griffins’ all-time leader in wins this season and shows a 133-106-13 record, 2.73 goals-against average, 0.907 save percentage and nine shutouts in 278 career AHL games between the Griffins, Stockton Heat and Charlotte checkers. He also owns a 14-11 record, 2.58 goals-against average, 0.915 save percentage and one shutout in 28 AHL playoff games and was a member of the Griffins’ 2013 Calder Cup championship team.
McCollum has also appeared in three career games for the Red Wings, making his NHL debut in a relief effort during the 2010-11 season and most recently appearing in two games during the 2014-15 campaign, earning his first NHL win on Jan. 15, 2015 vs. Buffalo and posting a 0.91 goals-against average and 0.960 save percentage. Originally drafted by the Red Wings in the first round (30th overall) of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, McCollum played 160 games with the OHL’s Guelph Storm and Brampton Battalion from 2006-09 prior to his professional career, sporting an 85-51-20 record, 2.33 goals against average, 0.920 save percentage and 16 shutouts. He also represented the United States on two occasions, winning a silver medal at the IIHF Under-18 World Championship in 2007 and appearing in five games during the 2009 IIHF World Junior Championship.