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Tight 2018-19 Roster Paves Difficult Road For Frk, Svechnikov

By now, the thought process headed into training camp is quite clear for the Detroit Red Wings; with Filip Zadina, Michael Rasmussen, Filip Hronek and others in the mix, a full-force youth movement is in the works.

This has sent shock waves around Detroit, fans shouting jubilantly in unison at the thought of a new era on the rise. However, it should be noted that there’s another side to the story. Ken Holland has stated that players will have to earn their spot on this roster, and with young guns coming in, someone has to be left out.

It’s understood that Zadina and Rasmussen can make this team out of camp and find themselves on the opening night roster. With Henrik Zetterberg out for camp and the start of the season, this opens up even more room for these two.

When I envision a roster that includes both of these guys, it doesn’t come without slight concern, in terms of names I don’t see. These names include Martin Frk and Evgeny Svechnikov.

Nov 9, 2017; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Detroit Red Wings right wing Martin Frk (42) controls the puck against the Calgary Flames during the second period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

In 2017-18, Frk spent most of the season on the third line, while also working the 2nd powerplay unit. He excited fans with his cannon of a slapshot, but had trouble maintaining it. He had 11 goals and 14 assists in 68 games. A decent chunk of his production came on the powerplay (5G, 4A). This isn’t turning many heads.

It took Frk five years to finally get a shot with the Red Wings, and his time as a regular could be done as soon as it came. I still think he could score at least 25 goals at the NHL level, with more experience and better honing of his shot. He could be an example of someone whose late NHL appearance put him behind the rest.

I like Frk a lot, he has huge upside in terms of knowing where to be on the ice. He’s a great powerplay option, and I’ll hate it if we see him as a healthy scratch. But there just isn’t room on this competitive roster, and Marty wouldn’t be able to earn top-9 ice time. At the very least, he would sit on the Wings’ fourth line, and I doubt he would beat out Darren Helm, Justin Abdelkader, or one of the kids to play that role.

DETROIT, MI – APRIL 03: Evgeny Svechnikov #37 of the Detroit Red Wings reacts to his game winning shoot out goal while playing the Ottawa Senators at Joe Louis Arena on April 3, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan. Detroit won the game 5-4. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

One of the kids who will fight for Frk’s role is Evgeny Svechnikov. Though, as it stands, the 21-year-old is approaching a big danger zone. The 19th overall pick in 2015 has one last season to escape the dreaded “bust” label.

Svechnikov had a decent year in Grand Rapids in 2017-18, putting up 23 points in 57 games, but many people expected the first-round pick to have been locked into the NHL by now, and certainly to produce more at the AHL level.

Geno’s only found himself in 16 NHL games, and only recorded 4 points. The last thing he needs, for the sake of his career and development, is another year in Grand Rapids. But as unfortunate as it is, with the way this roster is looking, I think it’s exactly what we’ll see. He isn’t high on the priority list.

It could be time to explore trade options for Svechnikov. With the future top-6 in Detroit not seeing his name, the Wings could be better off searching for a defensive prospect or draft picks for him. But that’s another topic for another day.

It’s a hard pill to swallow, but the decisions made by Holland to sign players to lengthy contracts is a primary reason both of these guys can’t be regulars. Darren Helm’s five-year contract signed in 2016 still has three more years on it, automatically washing away a fourth-line role until 2021. Abdelkader is another player who will likely spend the entirety of his contract on the fourth line (until 2023).

The signing of Thomas Vanek also eliminates roster space, but veteran presence is a necessity, and he’s only on for one year.

At the end of the day, this is all just opinionated. There’s always the chance of trades opening up roster spots, or one of these guys earning a roster spot over a veteran. No matter what, we’ve got to trust the process.