Two weeks ago, we passed along word of Detroit’s plan to keep Evgeny Svechnikov — the club’s first-rounder from ’15 — down in AHL Grand Rapids for the remainder of the season.
Well, things have changed.
Svechnikov, 20, is expected to make his NHL debut tonight when the Red Wings take on Ottawa. It would cap off what’s been a really successful first year in North America.
Svechnikov’s had a solid freshman AHL campaign, scoring 18 goals and 44 points through 68 games. That was part of the reason Detroit wanted to keep him with the Griffins — the club’s had good past success letting prospects spend considerable time in the American League, prior to moving them up to the bigs.
There were other circumstances at play, too.
“The one thing with the younger prospects is, this is a situation where a guy may or may not play,” head coach Jeff Blashill told the Free Press two weeks ago, in explaining the decision to keep Svechnikov in Grand Rapids. “And you sure don’t want a guy’s first NHL game and potentially fly parents in and then they don’t play. So that’s one thing we are very cognizant of.
“Two, probably just as importantly, with younger prospects, and I have been in this situation, lots of times they are way better off just continuing to focus on playing down there and developing rather than the roller coaster ride of up and down and up and down. So that is something we stay very cognizant of.”