Evgeny Svechnikov joins Red Wings taxi squad

Givani Smith sent to Grand Rapids

Evgeny Svechnikov of the Detroit Red Wings. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Evgeny Svechnikov of the Detroit Red Wings. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

DETROITEvgeny Svechnikov -- the 19th overall pick in 2015 -- did not make the Red Wings roster after he was hurt and missed much of that short training camp in January.

Since then, he’s been in Grand Rapids with the Griffins. He has played three games (AHL season got started late, remember), potted a goal and an assist, and now he’s back where we expected him to be at the start of the season, kind of. He’s not on the actual roster, yet. But now he’s available to grab from the taxi squad.

I hope he figures this out for both his sake and the team’s. Remember, he actually ended up on waivers earlier this year. He cleared, of course, but it wasn’t the best situation for a player who we all expected to be an impact for the Red Wings, especially at this point.

He’s just 24, sure, but injuries have hampered his young career, and quite frankly the injuries have nearly ended it for Svech. Remember, he missed the entire 2018-19 season after undergoing knee surgery for an injury he suffered during that preseason.

He’s now under a one-year contract that expires at the end of this season. Then he’ll become a restricted free agent. So, in reality, he needs to figure this out for his sake way more than the team’s. He showed so much promise a few years ago, before that knee injury, with 51 points in 74 games with the Griffins in 2016-17. He’s appeared in just 20 NHL games since then.

Last year, it looked like he was coming around again with a solid showing with the Griffins -- 25 points in 51 games. So here we are -- will this be his last opportunity with the Red Wings organization?

Note: Detroit is scheduled to meet Carolina on March 4 -- perhaps Evgeny will be available to play against his more famous brother, Andrei Svechnikov, by then?

Givani Smith goes to Griffins

Of course, Svech being called up means someone -- Givani Smith -- is going down to the Griffins.

Smith, 22, appeared in 8 games with the Red Wings this season -- 1 goal and 3 assists. He made the taxi squad list out of training camp. Then he seized his opportunity when he got in the lineup, showing how effective he can be as a physical force up front. He’s a very fun player to watch when he’s reaching his potential.

That “Gordie Howe Hat Trick” against Florida was something special.

I hope we see him again this season with the Red Wings. But I take comfort in knowing he’ll be running the show with the Griffins. Again, he’s 22. He’s a restricted free agent at the end of this season. I imagine Steve Yzerman has plans to keep Smith, and right now it’s important he’s getting better ice time in the AHL. This is all understandable. Not saying I love it -- that he’s not staying up with Detroit -- but I get it.

About the Author:

Dave Bartkowiak Jr. is the digital managing editor for ClickOnDetroit.