This is it. The moment we’ve all been waiting for. Evgeny Svechnikov’s first appearance as a Red Wing this year. Unfortunately, it had to come at the expense of Frans Nielsen.
Red Wings calling up Evgeny Svechnikov with Frans Nielsen sidelined at least 2 games.
— Helene St. James (@HeleneStJames) March 7, 2018
After taking a brutal hit from Boston’s David Backes last night and not returning to the game, it’s been announced that Nielsen will be out for at least two games. He’ll miss this week’s back-to-back against the Vegas Golden Knights and Columbus Blue Jackets and will be reassessed on Monday.
The hit was so brutal, with the primary point of contact being Nielsen’s chin, that the NHL’s Department of Player Safety has decided to suspend Backes for three games.
Boston’s David Backes suspended three games for interference on Detroit’s Frans Nielsen. https://t.co/TaN0CGiY8v
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) March 7, 2018
Losing Nielsen means losing a big part of Detroit’s bottom-6. He centers the team’s shutdown line, often playing big minutes against opponents’ best players. He is also crucial to the Red Wings penalty kill unit and frequently gets time on the powerplay. He literally plays everywhere.
When one door closes, though, another opens. This time, that open doorway is for Evgeny Svechnikov to step through. The young winger was pegged as a top prospect to make the big team this year, but after sustaining a neck injury in the pre-season, Svechnikov started his season in Grand Rapids and struggled mightily out of the gate. He’s bounced back as of late though and the Wings are ready to give him another look. In 52 AHL games this season, he’s put up seven goals and 22 points.
Svechnikov will likely slot into the lineup on the wing. Detroit has lots of players that are currently playing on the wing who can transition to center, such as Darren Helm and Andreas Athanasiou. It wouldn’t surprise me to see AA moved between Abdelkader and Helm and have Svechnikov slot in on Larkin’s wing. They can also move Helm to center on the third line and have Svechnikov play with him and Abdelkader.
It certainly hurts losing Nielsen, but it’s very exciting getting to see what Svechnikov can bring to the table. He had a good couple of games last season and I want to see him build on it.
Only time will tell how long he has on NHL ice before being returned to Grand Rapids. The fact that Detroit used one of their two remaining post-trade deadline call-ups suggests that the Nielsen injury may last longer than indicated. They could have called him up for a game on an emergency basis, but it seems they are ready to give him a longer look.
It’s a tough break for Nielsen, but all eyes are on Svechnikov now. What happens in this spotlight is up to him.
HOW DO YOU THINK SVECHNIKOV WILL PERFORM IN HIS SEASON DEBUT? LET US KNOW IN THE COMMENTS BELOW.