Detroit – Sure he’d like to play more, but Evgeny Svechnikov understands.
The young Red Wings forward, 21, hasn’t proven himself in the NHL – far from it – and coach Jeff Blashill’s job is to win games.
In his first two games since being called up from Grand Rapids, Svechnikov played 9:09 in his debut against Vegas, then 5:25 Friday in Columbus.
“I don’t complain, I’m happy with however much minutes I get,” said Svechikov Sunday, as the Red Wings prepared to head out for their West Coast trip. “The thing for me is just learn and take in as much as I can, as quick as I can, because it’s such an important time for me.”
Svechnikov was recalled from Grand Rapids when Frans Nielsen (concussion symptoms) was injured last week.
The Red Wings plan on keeping Svechnikov the remainder of this season to get a good evaluation on the 2015 first-round draft pick.
But coach Jeff Blashill admits finding ice time for Svechnikov has been difficult – though Blashill intends to change that on this trip, which begins with a Monday night game in San Jose.
“I haven’t played him enough probably, yet,” Blashill said. “I played him nine minutes the first night, five the other night. I’d like to get him more minutes.
“(But) he’s got to grab onto those minutes when he gets them, to play him more. That’s part of this business, not just being given stuff, but you have to make sure you grab it.
“I anticipate him seeing more minutes.”
Having little practice time with the Red Wings hasn’t helped Svechnikov, either.
“Part of it for me is we hadn’t practiced really all week leading up to those games,” Blashill said. “Grand Rapids had a combination of days off. Hopefully he feels more comfortable now where he’s ready to be able to excel and gain some more minutes.”
There’s also the delicate balance of the Red Wings attempting to win games and putting their best lineup on the ice, and Svechnikov taking someone else’s minutes.
“I’m asking our guys to compete like crazy, work their tails off, and I’m going to put the guys out there that will help us win the hockey game,” Blashill said “Certainly we want to get a good look at Svech, but he’s got to make sure he’s good enough that he’s outplaying somebody so that I’m putting the guys out there to win a hockey game.”
Svechnikov figures whatever playing time he gets right now, it’s a learning experience, first and foremost.
“No matter if it’s five minutes, nine minutes, I try to focus on those five minutes and give everything I can,” Svechnikov said. “It doesn’t matter. I’ll just give everything I can every shift.
“That’s the only way I’ll get another chance.”
Svechnikov understands that are a lot of things he has to do to show he is ready to be a regular NHL player.
“I want to be a 200-foot player,” Svechnikov said. “I want to shoot the puck and be around the puck, be on the right side of the puck and don’t make any turnovers.
“This is a game, and it’s (turnovers) going to happen, but right now, I don’t want to make any mistakes.
“I just want to go out and play my game. I have the skill and talent, and I want to make plays.”