Prospects News & Rumors: Svechnikov, Lindgren, Heponiemi & Grans

The older brother of one of the National Hockey League’s budding superstars is going to get at least one more season to carve his own place in the league. Plus, two more NHL prospects will start their 2020-21 season Europe, as that trend continues with the delayed start in North America.

Svechnikov Gets Another Year

The Detroit Red Wings announced on Sunday that they signed forward Evgeny Svechnikov to a one-year contract extension. He is the older brother of Carolina Hurricanes star Andrei Svechnikov. The 23-year-old forward was originally drafted in the first round (19th overall) of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.

Related – Red Wings Salary Cap Snapshot

Svechinikov made his way over to North America in 2016, playing two Calder Cup playoff games with the Grand Rapids Griffins. He spent the 2016-17 season in the American Hockey League (AHL), scoring 20 goals and 51 points in 74 games for the Griffins. He also made his NHL debut that season, dressing in two games for the Red Wings.

Evgeny Svechnikov Grand Rapids Griffins
Svechnikov worked hard to return to the Griffins’ lineup.
(Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

A severe knee injury cost him the entire 2018-19 season. Svechnikov returned to the ice this past season and scored 11 goals and 25 points for the Griffins. He also appeared in four games with the Red Wings and is still looking for his first NHL point.

Lindgren Staying in Europe

Toronto Maple Leafs defensive prospect Jesper Lindgren has been loaned to MODO Hockey of Allsvenskan, Sweden’s second-tier professional league. Lindgren is another member of the 2015 draft class, taken 95th overall in the fourth round.

Lindgren played for MODO during the 2016-17 season before making the trip to play in North America. The 23-year-old defenseman played 31 games for the Toronto Marlies in the AHL last season. He scored one goal and nine points while posting a plus-5 rating.

MODO Loaned Another NHL Prospect

Lindgren isn’t the only NHL draftee to start the 2020-21 season with MODO. According to their official website, the Florida Panthers have loaned Aleksi Heponiemi to MODO for the upcoming season.

Heponiemi, 21, was drafted in the second round (40th overall) of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft by the Panthers. The dynamic forward played in the top professional league in his native Finland during the 2018-19 season.

Swift Current Broncos center Aleksi Heponiemi
Heponiemi is another European prospect starting the 2020-21 season overseas.
(Photo by Christopher Mast/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

He scored 16 goals and 46 points in 60 Liiga games for Kärpät. He helped Finland to the gold medal at the 2019 World Junior Championship by scoring three goals and a tournament-high nine points.

He spent the 2019-20 season playing for the Springfield Thunderbirds in the AHL. He scored just three goals and 14 points in 49 games as he got his first taste of North American professional hockey.

Prospect of the Day – Helge Grans

With all this MODO news, we will stay in Sweden for today’s Prospect of the Day. Grans is a right-handed defenseman with a big 6-foot-3, 202-pound frame. He is ranked as the sixth-best European skater by NHL Central Scouting heading into the 2020 Entry Draft. THW’s Larry Fisher ranks Grans 11th among all defensemen and 39th overall.

Related – THW’s 2020 Draft Guide

Grans made a huge jump up Central’s Scouting rankings during the season, where he shot up from 21st to sixth on the European list. With the 2020 draft class wide open on the blue line, he could end up being the third defensemen drafted this fall, after Jamie Drysdale and Jake Sanderson, or go as late as the third round. That is how even the defensive class is after the top two prospects.

He has plenty of aspects that have NHL scouts excited about him. His size and reach will serve him well at the professional level. He has good speed to go along with his big frame. Grans is an offensive-minded defender who scored 27 points in 27 games, during the 2019-20 season, for the Malmö Redhawks of the Swedish U20 SuperElit league.

Helge Grans Malmö Redhawks
Grans is an intriguing draft prospect. (Malmö Redhawks)

Our own Dayton Reimer feels that he could be a very good NHL defenseman if the stars line up correctly.

If Grans ends up in the right system, he could become a very good power play quarterback and a top-four defenseman. However, he is a project and it will take time to get him there. It’s more likely that he’ll end up a capable middle-pairing defenseman with the potential to run a power play.

While his skills with the puck from the point are very attractive, he still has plenty of improvement to make before he can challenge for an NHL roster spot. He is not very creative with the puck and has shown some questionable decision making at times. As is the case with many young defensemen, he needs to get better in his own end. With the defensemen of this draft class so bunched up, it will be very interesting to see where Grans gets selected this October.