Red Wings' Evgeny Svechnikov looking forward to finally facing brother, Andrei, on ice
They’re hoping this will be the time, Thursday in Carolina.
Evgeny Svechnikov, and his brother Andrei, who plays for the Hurricanes, appear set to play against each other for the first time in the NHL.
They came close last season, but Evgeny was sent down to Grand Rapids the day before. Then, in the season opener in January, Evgeny was injured and again headed to the Griffins.
“I was hoping both of those times,” Evgeny Svechnikov said after Wednesday’s practice of facing his brother. “It was disappointing for sure. But you can’t control it, and it’s in the past. But it’s very exciting right now and it’ll happen one day.
“Tomorrow (Thursday), hopefully.”
Evgeny, 24, was a 2015 first-round pick of the Wings, 19th overall, who has had injuries stall his path to the NHL.
Andrei, 20, was a 2018 first-round pick of Carolina, second overall, who had pressure and expectations thrust upon him quickly and has matched or exceeded them.
“He’s done an amazing job, not pretty good,” said Evgeny, who trained with Andrei in North Carolina during most of the pandemic, and as the two often have done every summer. “He’s so mature and so calm, you can learn those things from him. It’s awesome to see him as a young kid, 18, 19, or 20, doing those things and it’s hard, and he’s done it and continued doing it.
“It’s pretty impressive.”
The two brothers have never played against each other in an organized game.
But they’ve been thinking, dreaming, and talking about the possibility since the family moved to North America in 2014, with Evgeny playing in Cape Breton in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
“When we got here, to North America, we started realizing it could be reality,” said Evgeny, who talks to his brother after every game, and basically every day. “I came here because I was getting (potentially getting) drafted by the NHL and obviously my brother was following in my footsteps.
“We started realizing one day it was going to come.”
The two, growing up in Russia, barely had the NHL on their radar.
“Growing up you here about the NHL but you couldn’t really watch it,” Evgeny said. “It was in the back of our heads, we were playing on the national teams and growing up as hockey players, but it’s not reality until you move to North America.
“We didn’t have any channels, as a family, didn’t have NHL (on the television). We had 10 or 15 channels and we had to fix the antenna to watch the channels. There was barely any sports, and especially the NHL. We never saw any of it.”
The Svechnikovs' parents are back in Russia, and Evgeny talked with his father earlier in the week.
“They’re pretty excited, it’s going to be a special day,” Evgeny said. “I told my dad, ‘Can you imagine, it’s been almost 20 years since we have been counting to this day’.
“I’m just very proud of my parents, and how much they put it in for us to be in this position, to be trained. I’m very happy for them and how much they’re going to be happy.
"They're in Russia (currently) and they watch every game. They'll watch this one for sure."
Evgeny Svechnikov was skating on a line with Luke Glendening and Darren Helm during Wednesday’s practice.
After scoring two goals in his first three games with the Wings this season, you’d figure Svechnikov would be a lock to be in Thursday’s lineup.
But coach Jeff Blashill was coy about his plans.
“I’m human, but I also have a job to do and my job is to put out the 20 guys who give us the best chance to win,” Blashill said. “Evgeny is an awesome person, one of the very best I’ve been around. He’s a great person, and I’m certainly aware of how much that would mean to him (playing against his brother).
“But I have to put the 20 best out there.”
Still, Svechnikov has made a positive impact in his small sample size with the Wings in the last week.
“He never lacks work, the work is always there,” Blashill said. “He’s been fine, so far. And he cares a bunch.”
Svechnikov, since arriving from Grand Rapids, is simply thankful for the opportunity.
"I feel fine, very good and comfortable," Svechnikov said. "I have momentum and know what I'm doing. I just have to get better and better at the little things, and continue producing."
Veteran forward Valtteri Filppula was waived by the Wings Wednesday, joining veteran teammates Frans Nielsen and Danny DeKeyser who also were waived in recent weeks.
But Nielsen and DeKeyser weren't claimed, and Filppula should clear through, also before noon Thursday, re-joining the Wings and giving the team roster flexibility.
At that point, the Wings can assign Filppula to the taxi squad, if needed, something they've done with the other veterans in an attempt to massage the roster.
Filppula, 37 on March 20, is in the final year of a two-year, $6 million contract ($3 million salary cap hit per year). Filppula has five points (two goals, three assists) in 20 games this season.
Red Wings at Hurricanes
► Faceoff: 7 p.m. Thursday, PNC Arena, Raleigh, North Carolina
► TV/radio: Fox Sports Detroit/97.1 FM
► Outlook: The Red Wings (7-15-3) and Hurricanes (15-6-1) split two games to open this season. … Carolina has won three straight games and have the fourth-ranked power play (29.6%). … C Vincent Trocheck (12 goals) has provided dangerous piece to the offense.