The 2022-23 NHL regular season is just around the corner, but Evgeny Svechnikov is still a free agent and looking for a new home. Even after setting new career-highs with seven goals and 19 points in 72 games with the Winnipeg Jets last season, they did not send him a qualifying offer. Svechnikov is a former first-round pick, so there should be a team out there willing to sign him to a late-summer contract. In my opinion, these three teams stand out as potential landing spots for him, and here’s why.
The Chicago Blackhawks seem like the perfect team for Svechnikov to receive notable minutes. This offseason alone, they moved on from Alex DeBrincat, Kirby Dach, Dominik Kubalik, and Dylan Strome. Although they signed Max Domi and Andreas Athanasiou in response to it, there still is room for Svechnikov to have a top-nine role.
Svechnikov is still young enough that he would fit into the Blackhawks’ rebuild, too. Although the 2015 first-round pick has never developed into a top-six forward, there’s reason to believe that he still could produce more offensively as he gains more experience. On a weak team like the Blackhawks, he also could get time on their power play, which in turn, could finally be what allows him to take that next step.
Chicago has just over $7.5 million in cap space, so they could easily afford to sign Svechnikov to a league-minimum contract. There is no real risk in this kind of move, so it’s something that general manager (GM) Kyle Davidson should consider.
New York Islanders
It’s been a pretty awful offseason for the New York Islanders. After missing out on the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs because of their scoring issues, they were expected to make changes to their forward group. Nazem Kadri was their big target, but the veteran ended up signing with the Calgary Flames. Now, as we inch closer to training camp, GM Lou Lamoriello has yet to bring in a new NHL-caliber forward. Perhaps they could change that by signing Svechnikov.
Related: Winnipeg Jets 2021-22 Report Cards: Evgeny Svechnikov
Now, Svechnikov shouldn’t be expected to help solve the Islanders’ immense scoring woes. That would be silly. However, bringing him in would provide them with more depth up front, which they desperately need. It’s also fair to argue that, given their lineup, he could compete for a spot in their bottom six. Perhaps he could even be utilized on their second power-play unit due to their lack of scorers. That, in turn, could lead to more production from the winger.
Even after finalizing several roster moves, the Islanders still have over $2 million in cap space left, so signing Svechnikov to a cheap, one-year deal would not be difficult. Maybe heading to New York could help Svechnikov produce more at the NHL level, so there’s no true harm in Lamoriello considering him.
The Canadiens are also in a position to take a chance on Svechnikov. After finishing at the bottom of the NHL standings last season, they, understandably, are heading into the 2022-23 season with low expectations, even more so now that Carey Price may be out for the season. Thus, the Canadiens could take a chance on a former top prospect like Svechnikov to see if he can take that next step.
Svechnikov could be an intriguing fit in the Canadiens’ bottom six, so perhaps this is something that GM Kent Hughes would be open to exploring. Whether he plays left or right wing, the 25-year-old would easily fit onto the club’s fourth line. However, given Svechnikov’s potential offensive upside, it wouldn’t be a bad thing to give him third-line minutes. Furthermore, he also could be a candidate to get some time on both the power play and penalty kill.
Ultimately, it would be wise for a rebuilding team like the Canadiens to take a chance on Svechnikov. If he takes another step in the right direction this season, he could end up being a steal of a signing, and Montreal could use one of those.
Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see if Svechnikov can find a new home before the start of the 2022-23 season. These three teams stand out as potential landing spots, but if the Russian wants the best opportunity to succeed, I believe that the Blackhawks are where he should sign.