By @StefanKubus –
DETROIT – While it was a relaxed day at Detroit Red Wings Youth Camp for Evgeny Svechnikov and Vili Saarijarvi, the budding prospects have been ramping up their off-season regimens as September’s training camp is just around the corner.
For the 20-year-old Saarijarvi, the Red Wings’ third-round pick in 2015, his 2016-17 campaign with Mississauga in the OHL was cut short due to injury, but he still recorded an impressive 31 points in 34 games from the blue line and another 15 in 20 playoff games – strong numbers from the Finnish defenseman.
At 5-foot-10, Saarijarvi said the biggest thing he’s been working to build is his strength.
“Getting stronger, I think that’s been something I want to work on,” Saarijarvi said. “It’s been good so far. I think I’m been getting stronger, too, put on a couple pounds.
“Last summer was my first summer that I trained pretty much the whole summer here. I think it was really good for me, so I thought it’s gonna be best for me to stay here for this summer, too, and get better. It’s easier here, you train with a big group of guys, older guys where at home I train by myself, so it’s been a huge difference, and it’s been good so far.
“I’m going to go to camp and do my best and see where I can go with that. I want to show what I can do and earn my spot wherever I go. It’s a big competition and everyone wants a spot, so it’s going to be hard, but at the same time, you’ve got to enjoy it.”
Svechnikov, who had 20 goals and 51 points in his first pro season with Grand Rapids, credited the Calder Cup run with teaching him a lot about being a professional.
“I learned a lot honestly,” Svechnikov said of the playoff experience. “I was thinking to myself, you’ve got to have a really close team to win a championship and have everything done and set up to win it. I think we had everything to win it, and I think first of all we had the effort as a team and did a great job. For myself, I learned a lot and I think I’m gonna bring it into my future for sure.”
He added that he’s feeling more confident heading into training camp with this being his third.
“I feel a lot more confident, a lot more comfortable, so it’s gonna be my third camp and it’s exciting,” Svechnikov said. “You know everybody, all the staff, all the coaches, and do what the coaches want from you. You’ve got to improve every practice there.
“I think everybody has a chance. Every single one at the camp will have a chance, so just take it all in and do your best.”
Training camp begins September 15, with the Wings’ first preseason game at Little Caesars Arena taking place September 23, as they welcome Livonia native Torey Krug and the Boston Bruins.