Winnipeg Jets 2021-22 Report Cards: Evgeny Svechnikov

The Winnipeg Jets’ 2021-22 season was a disappointment, as they came into the season considered a Stanley Cup contender but drastically underperformed, finishing sixth in the Central Division and well out of the playoff picture.

In this series, we’ll take a look back on the season, player by player, and grade their individual performances with an eye toward their future with the team.

Evgeny Svechnikov was found money for the Winnipeg Jets in 2021-22 and had a generally productive, if not up-and-down, season.

Svechnikov’s Role with Jets Ebbed and Flowed

The Detroit Red Wings castoff signed a one-year, $750,000 deal last August with the Moose and impressed enough in training camp on a PTO to stick with the Jets full time.

The 25-year-old Russian began the season on the top six on a line with Kyle Connor and Pierre-Luc Dubois, the latter being an old teammate of his on the QMJHL’s Cape Breton Screaming Eagles. The duo that was so electric in juniors continued to shine bright, with Svechnikov recording seven points by mid-November. From mid-October through the end of November, Svechnikov played double-digit minutes in 19 straight games.

Evgeny Svechnikov Winnipeg Jets
Evgeny Svechnikov began the season in a top six role, but bounced around throughout the season. (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)

Through December and January — upon the returns of Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler from injuries — he was relegated to a checking-line role or to the press box. While he missed three games due to injury and was a healthy scratch at times, he had only three points from Dec. 1 through Feb. 23.

“During that stretch, you could see an obvious mood change with Svechnikov, who is considered to be among the most talkative and joyful players in the locker room,” The Winnipeg Free Press’ Jeff Hamilton wrote. “Part of that could be not having success compared to earlier the year, among other things.” (From ‘Svechnikov’s roller-coaster season,’ Winnipeg Free Press, Feb. 24, 2022.)

At the same time Svechnikov was struggling with only a few minutes per night, the Jets were searching in vain for a suitable left winger for Connor and Dubois without success. Disappointing 2017 first-rounder Kristian Vesalainen didn’t work at all. Cole Perfetti performed much better, but got injured. Waiver wire pickup Adam Brooks couldn’t keep up.

Evgeny Svechnikov Winnipeg Jets
Svechnikov had good chemistry with Connor and Dubois when given the chance to play with them. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

In late February, interim head coach Dave Lowry realized the solution was in front of his face the entire time and returned Svechnikov to the line. From then through late March, Svechnikov performed admirably, recording three goals and five assists and a four-game point streak.

Related: Jets Need to Keep Svechnikov on 2nd Line With Connor & Dubois

For the final stretch of the season, Svechnikov was again returned to the bottom six. Overall, in 72 games, he scored seven goals and added 12 assists for 19 points while skating an average of 10:45.

Re-Signing Svechnikov Could Pay Dividends

Svechnikov has been a bit of an enigma in his career and has not lived up to the hype that surrounded him when the Red Wings drafted him 19th overall in 2015. He will likely never be as high-octane as his younger brother Andrei, who set a career-high with 69 points for the Carolina Hurricanes this season.

Despite that, the elder Svechnikov has assets that can help any team. He is a terrific passer with great vision and a good defender in all three zones. He can make good things happen in tight spaces and has a knack for retaining and maintaining possession of the puck.

In addition, he has a huge and gregarious personality and cheerful guys are much-needed in the Jets’ dressing room considering two members of the leadership core in Scheifele and Wheeler are hyper-serious.

Jets’ GM Kevin Cheveldayoff would be wise to consider inking him to another modest short-term deal. The pending restricted free agent is a known commodity to the organization now and would come affordably; having players who can contribute in multiple areas without breaking the bank is of utmost important in today’s NHL, considering the salary cap is only rising $1 million next season.

The Jets need just that — cheap players who can chip in — since they are right up to the salary cap ceiling and have committed to staying there. Given the right opportunity under a new head coach in 2022-23, Svechnikov could give the Jets a decent shot in the arm when it comes to secondary scoring.

Overall Grade: B