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Svechnikov no longer a forgotten man for Wings roster spot

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
The Detroit Red Wings signed winger Evgeny Svechnikov to a one-year contract extension on Sunday.

Detroit — There was a perception as training camp began this month that Evgeny Svechnikov had fallen behind some of the other recent Red Wings draft picks.

Svechnikov is coming off a rather subpar season — after an outstanding rookie pro season in Grand Rapids — and with the likes of Michael Rasmussen and Filip Zadina making a run at NHL jobs, Svechnikov was suddenly a bit of a forgotten man.

That was the story line, anyway. Svechnikov’s play this month has made him prominent, again, indeed.

Svechnikov scored his second consecutive game-winning goal Saturday in overtime, this time helping the Red Wings defeat the Boston Bruins, 4-3.

With half of the exhibition season now complete, Svechnikov is squarely putting himself in the competition for any job available among the forwards.

“Definitely that’s one of the things I want to do,” Svechnikov said after Saturday’s victory. “As I said earlier, I want to be here and be a Red Wing and help this team. That’s what I’m trying to do.”

Svechnikov’s skill set would appear to be better suited for a top-nine role, but the Wings could be filled there.

But a fourth-line job could be available, and Svechnikov has shown some of the attributes in these exhibition games to fill the job.

“Part of his responsibility is to make sure there’s 12 spots open to him on the forward group, so he has to make sure he’s got great depth in his game,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “If it is a fourth-line spot that’s open, then you got to beat less guys out. To be a top-nine, you have to beat more guys out and there’s less room for error.

“He needs to make sure he’s responsible and that he’s heavy on the puck, and he adds offense without giving up a whole bunch of chances. He did a good job (Saturday). He played well.”

More: 'Puck poise' aids confident Cholowski's case for Wings job

Wings win again

Andreas Athanasiou, Trevor Daley and Rasmussen, scored goals Sunday as the Wings defeated the Penguins in Pittsburgh, 3-2.

The Wings scored all three goals in the second period to erase a 1-0 Pittsburgh lead.

BOX SCORE: Red Wings 3, Penguins 2

Goalie Harri Sateri stopped 29 shots, as the Wings won their fourth consecutive exhibition game (4-0-0).

Both teams were 0-for-5 on the power play.

Getting healthy

Defenseman Mike Green (viral infection) appears to be getting over his illness, but when he’ll be able to return to the lineup is unclear.

General manager Ken Holland said tests performed Friday showed Green is on the final stages of his virus and when Green is able, he’ll begin working out.

Holland said there is no time frame as to when Green will rejoin the Wings.

The Wings open the regular season on Oct. 4 and they are preparing as if Green will not be available.

If that’s the case, then there are two open roster spots on defense, rather than the one when training camp began.

Dennis Cholowski, Joe Hicketts, Filip Hronek and Libor Sulak are vying for the available jobs that Blashill says are wide open.

“Coming into camp I made it clear that jobs are open,” Blashill said. “That doesn’t mean anything is being given away. It means that guys that are returning have to be better or guys that are young and new have to come in and take it.

“The fact it looks like Mike will miss the beginning of the year means that's another job that is open. It certainly would be motivation, I would say, to seize the moment here.”

Good impression

Defenseman Vili Saarijarvi is going to ultimately head back to Grand Rapids as he isn’t going to make the Wings' opening night roster.

The plan all along was for Saarijarvi, beginning his second pro season, to get more seasoning in the American League.

But that doesn’t mean Saarijarvi hasn’t made a positive impact.

He had a fine prospects tournament, played well in the intrasquad scrimmages, and now has been impressive in the exhibition games.

Saarijarvi scored a goal Saturday, and looked ready to have a good season in Grand Rapids and come looking for an NHL job as early as next year.

“So far in camp, including the prospects tournament, I would say he has established (himself),” Blashill said. “He’s done a real good job. It’s a good step for him. He put in a lot of work this summer, he’s a good skater, so he can relieve pressure that way.

“He makes a lot of right decisions.”

Extra work

Blashill had Cholowski see a lot of ice time on the power play and penalty kill against Boston, to see how Cholowski reacted.

“He’s obviously trying to fight for a power play spot, too, but our PK needs to be better,” Blashill said. “Whoever we get, and we don’t use Kroner (Niklas Kronwall) a ton on the PK anymore, we have to make sure other guys are real good killers. We also don’t use Greener as much.

“You have to show, like I said with Svech, where there’s 12 spots open, that if you have depth in your game and if you can be both a penalty killer and power-play guy, it gives you way more opportunity to win those jobs.”

Twitter @tkulfan