Evgeny Svechnikov 2023 player review: Did not improve his chances for a new contract
Evgeny Svechnikov is a restricted free agent, but his performance this season did little to prove he deserves another shot.
When the San Jose Sharks signed Evgeny Svechnikov, there was hope in the front office that the forward just needed a change of scenery. After all, Svechnikov was drafted 19th overall in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft by the Detroit Red Wings. The potential was there.
Even slotted in as a bottom-six player, the idea was that Svechnikov would help the Sharks even out the scoring and add some pressure when guys like Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl and Timo Meier were not on the ice.
Sadly, that did not happen.*
Svechnikov's 2022-23 production
Svechnikov played 59 games for the Sharks this season, and the games he missed were not always due to injury. For example, he joined the team in Prague for the two-game series against the Nashville Predators but only played in one of the two games.
|Games Played||G||A||P||PIM||+/-||SOG||Shooting %|
Honestly, Svechnikov's numbers throughout the season did not justify him playing more. Fourteen points is less than what you'd hope for from a bottom-six player. Even if you project that out over 82 games, Svechnikov still falls short of 20 points for the entire season.
While his 13.11% shooting percentage is an asset, he doesn't shoot enough for it to make a difference on the scoreboard. Svechnikov registered 61 shots this season, which averages out to just over one shot on goal per game.
Svechnikov's usefulness in other aspects of play
Sometimes, numbers like these can be forgivable if the player brings other assets to a team. Matt Nieto, for example, scored just as many points as Svechnikov this season. However, Nieto was also an asset on the penalty kill. He was among the first people over the boards whenever the Sharks were down a man.
Similarly, Nick Bonino did not score at high rates, but he also killed penalties and was an asset to the team in the faceoff circle.
There's a reason why contending teams traded for Bonino and Nieto and not Svechnikov at the trade deadline.
Svechnikov's numbers are middling. He took 13 penalties this season and drew 11. He had 21 giveaways and 24 takeaways. Svechnikov blocked 19 shots all season and took a dozen faceoffs.
Add to that his negative impact on the Sharks' scoring chances, and you can see just how poorly he performed for the team.
He did not drive play and was, in some instances, a detriment to San Jose's ability to score. Svechnikov averaged 10:45 of ice time per game, most of which was at even strength, making Svechnikov's expected goals for per 60 minutes (xGF/60) an even tougher data point to swallow.
Svechnikov fit Mike Grier's mold
If there were one area that he excelled, it would be that he played the kind of game that General Manager Mike Grier was looking for. Grier was clear when he took over the team that he wanted the Sharks to be more difficult to play against. He was looking for big bodies that weren't afraid to go into the dirty areas and grind it out.
At 6'3", 208 lbs., Svechnikov fits that role. He used his body when necessary. Svechnikov was fifth on the team in hits with 98. He made it tough for opposing players down low in the zone. However, that never seemed to translate into scoring for the Sharks.
Svechnikov's future with the Sharks
Svechnikov is a restricted free agent (RFA) this season, which means the Sharks control his rights. He earned $750,000 this past season and did nothing to prove that he deserves more than the league minimum next season.
That said, it's hard to say if it's worth management's time to work out a new contract for Svechnikov. He turns 27 in October, so he's getting a little old to be called a late bloomer. It appears that Svechnikov is destined to be a bottom-six forward.
Given that the Sharks have young prospects in the pipeline close to, if not ready to join the team next season, it seems difficult to see San Jose choosing Svechnikov over those younger guys.
What's more, guys like Nico Sturm, Luke Kunin, Steven Lorentz, Jacob Peterson and Fabian Zetterlund (also an RFA) all offer better, league-tested, options than Svechnikov.
There is no reason for the Sharks to sign and trade Svechnikov because I don't think there's a market for the forward. The best option for San Jose is to let Svechnikov walk. There's no reason for him to fill a roster spot that a guy like William Eklund is ready for.
Plus, when it comes to hockey rosters, I'm a firm believer in out of sight, out of mind. Don't give a coach an option unless you want him to use it.
*Props to JD Young, who predicted that Svechnikov was better suited for the Barracuda than the Sharks in his 2022-23 season preview.
Editor's Note: Over the next few weeks, we will be rolling out the player reviews for the San Jose Sharks. We realize there were a lot of guys rotating into and out of the lineup and some of the key depth players were traded. As a result, Fear the Fin plans to focus on the players that are 1) still with the Sharks and 2) played 20 or more games for San Jose this season.