Le 19 mai 2016, 10:26 dans Mode • 0
GRAND RAPIDS — On a night that had most of the Grand Rapids Griffins waxing poetic about the team they soon would leave behind, Evgeny Svechnikov was still getting acquainted.
Svechnikov, the Detroit Red Wings' first-round NHL draft pick in 2015, joined the Griffins for the AHL playoffs this spring. And while he was not initially expected to play much, injuries thrust him into the lineup for games 5 and 6 of the Central Division finals. He even notched an assist in his debut Saturday.
“I don’t want to lie, of course I was nervous. Like, first shifts, first game, first couple days before the game,” Svechnikov said. “But the boys, you know, support me, and the coaches tell me to trust yourself and just try to be myself on ice and off ice.”
Playing in front of the Grand Rapids crowd Monday, the Russian national manned the net front on the Griffins’ power play. What resulted was a mixed bag of successful screens of the goaltender and a few plays when he wasn’t able to handle passes in tight in a 4-3 season-ending loss.
In Svechnikov’s defense, though, mishandled passes were a plague that hit both teams Monday, with players citing chippy ice after the game.
But while neither his game nor his English is flawless, Svechnikov made an impression all the same. He made a couple of nifty passes in front of the net, and his screen made it so Lake Erie goalie Joonas Korpisalo couldn’t see Xavier Ouellet’s second-period goal from the point.
Standing 6-feet-2 and 205 pounds, Svechnikov’s size makes him an attractive power forward. That was obvious with his play down low Monday, but his soft hands add a dimension, too. His passing ability is a threat that defenses won’t be able to ignore.
Coming off of a productive season with Cape Breton in the QMJHL (32 goals and 47 assists), Svechnikov is looking to spend next season in Grand Rapids.
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“He’s gonna be a player,” Griffins coach Todd Nelson said. “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, to try to substitute what (injured forwards Eric Tangradi and Martin Frk) bring to us. 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.”