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Why Svechnikov? It’s for Barracuda, Not Sharks

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Credit: AP Photo/Adrian Kraus

San Jose Sharks GM Mike Grier is collecting bottom-six forwards like he was picking up depth goalies earlier this off-season.

Gotta catch ‘em all?

Add Evgeny Svechnikov to the Sharks’ depth forward pool. San Jose announced earlier today that they had inked the 25-year-old winger to a one-year contract.

The Winnipeg Jets didn’t qualify RFA Svechnikov after he posted seven goals and 12 assists in 72 games last season, in mostly a fourth-line role with no special teams responsibilities.

Svechnikov, older brother of Carolina Hurricanes star Andrei Svechnikov, was a 2015 Detroit Red Wings’ first-round pick. In the past, he has been regarded as having some unlocked offensive potential. But that potential hasn’t really manifested itself in parts of five seasons with the Wings, and last year with the Jets.

So where does Svechnikov fit in with the San Jose Sharks?

Let’s just say the community pool is pretty crowded.

That’s four likely top-six forwards in Timo Meier, Tomas Hertl, Logan Couture, and Alexander Barabanov. Kevin Labanc is in the mix here too.

That’s two rookie wild cards in William Eklund and Thomas Bordeleau who are widely regarded as having top-six potential.

And then, it’s more than a dozen third or fourth-liners who you hope will outperform those projections: Svechnikov, Luke Kunin, Oskar Lindblom, Nick Bonino, Nico Sturm, Steven Lorentz, Noah Gregor, Matt Nieto, Jeffrey Viel, Jonah Gadjovich, Scott Reedy, Jasper Weatherby, and Max Veronneau.

That’s a lot of warm bodies.

Of this group, it’s probably safe to pencil in Kunin, Lindblom, Bonino, and Sturm for the opening night roster. Gregor, Lorentz, and Nieto should be safe too, unless they’re traded or waived.

So where does that leave a Svechnikov? Well, notice his two-way contract, and his pretty hefty AHL salary.

Barring any surprises – for example, let’s say Lorentz, on a one-way contract, is sent down – it appears that Svechnikov is set to be the highest-paid Barracuda forward.

It looks like the Cuda have three forwards on two-way NHL contracts who will make over $300,000 in the AHL: Svechnikov at $350K, and Veronneau and Andrew Agozzino at $325K.

Compare that to last season, when the Barracuda had, I believe, just one regular forward on a two-way contract, Nick Merkley at $400K, making over $300K in the minors.

This is in line with the San Jose Sharks organization’s vision to transform the Barracuda into a highly-competitive squad.

“Winning breeds winning” has been the mantra this off-season, on the heels of a last-place Cuda campaign last year.

So another way to look at signing Svechnikov: Grier isn’t necessarily trying to make the Sharks better with wave after wave of depth forwards – he’s trying to make the Barracuda better.

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