Svechkov MKE

Milwaukee, Wis. - As the seconds ticked away in the middle frame of Game 3 on Tuesday, the Milwaukee Admirals found themselves trailing their Western Conference Finals opponent by three goals and desperately needing an offensive jolt.

Nashville Predators first-round pick Fedor Svechkov, as it turned out, would be the one to deliver.

Collecting a quick pass from Ozzy Wiesblatt above the circle and lasering the puck into the twine, the rookie forward would bring the home team back within two before the second period expired.

Though Svechkov’s momentous goal didn’t ultimately lead to an Admirals victory on Tuesday, it did garner high praise from Milwaukee’s bench boss following the game.

“Through the last five or six games [Svechkov] has been our best forward and might be our best player on the ice,” Admirals Head Coach Karl Taylor said. “He looks like he's in the wrong league out there. He's playing really well, he's holding onto pucks, he's making plays. And that's what we need. We need someone to catch a puck like that and rip it in the net… That was a really good quality scoring chance and Svechkov’s game has really grown in the last five games. You can see something coming there where he's setting himself up for down the road.”

The following morning before the Admirals took the ice for team practice, Taylor made sure Svechkov heard the message.

“I just threw him a bone, just mentioning how good he's playing, because I wanted him to understand that,” Taylor said. “And his response was, ‘I just love playoffs.’ He's won the last two years in the VHL (Russia’s second-highest professional league), so he knows how to win and he has been in the playoffs. This is his first experience in North America, and his game is just growing to match the obstacles that are in front of us. And so as the moments get bigger, he's playing better and you can't say anything better or anything to describe a player better than that, that he's a big time, big moment player who grabs the opportunities and doesn't shy away from them.”

In the first 13 Calder Cup Playoffs games of his fledgling American Hockey League career, the 21-year-old winger has already recorded eight points (4g-4a), tied for the fourth-most among all AHL rookies.

To Taylor’s point, that may not be too surprising.

Tested in all three of Russia’s premier hockey leagues since 2019 and a back-to-back champion in the MHL (2022) and VHL (2023), Svechkov truly seems to live for the rigors of postseason action.

“It’s just the time of the year when you have to play 100 percent, not just one time,” Svechkov said. “You just try harder than in the regular season, and I like that you're just playing against one team and it's kind of a battle, a battle between leaders, goalies, coaches. You just believe in your team and your group is just trying to do their best.”

Though Svechkov admittedly prefers the intensity of the postseason, his debut North American campaign offered plenty to get excited about too. In 57 games, he recorded 39 points (16g-23), the fifth-most among his teammates and the third-most among Admirals rookies.

“For me it’s just hard work on the ice,” Svechkov said. “I'm just trying to play my best game, just get the puck, pass it somewhere and try to make some plays. I think it's part of my game and I’ve been very successful in that.”

His bright rookie campaign notwithstanding, there were still plenty of challenges to work through and lessons to learn when Svechkov transitioned from the Russian to North American styles of hockey several months ago.

“There’s an opportunity at this level to fail,” Taylor said. “And for our staff, [Assistant Coach Greg Rallo], [General Manager Scott Nichol] and myself, that's something we focus on early. Good players are going to fail. This year we had a very young team, a team that is learning all the time, but there's going to be some growth early that they're going to have to work through. There are going to be some situations where they make mistakes or they try to be too risky or what have you. You're hoping by [the postseason], there's balance and they understand when and why, and game management and when to try those plays.”

There are plenty of positive changes to get accustomed to, as well. For a young player who spent the last several years bouncing around Russia’s intricate league system, Svechkov enjoyed staying put in Milwaukee’s locker room for the whole year.

“I’d never played on one team for the whole season in Russia,” Svechkov said. “In one season, I played in junior, the KHL and the VHL. So it's my first season on one team in pro hockey. And it's really fun for me because you kind of get to be part of the group for the full year.”

That longevity has led to fierce friendships, namely with fellow countrymen and Preds prospects Egor Afanasyev and Yaroslav Askarov. See one member of the Russian trio and you’re likely to see its other two members close by.

Of course, that’s only helped the Togliatti, Russia, native navigate a vastly different culture - even learn a completely different language - than the one he grew up with.

“We spend a lot of time together,” Svechkov said with a smile. “Little questions I have for them they can answer me, especially outside of hockey, because it's a different country. Apartments. Credit cards. They’re really tough. Hockey is hockey. We’re just playing the same game around the whole world. But this support in the locker room and outside, it really matters for me, and so we’re good friends.”

Though he does face a steeper climb than his fellow prospects in learning the intricacies of life away from the rink, on the ice Svechkov is right where he needs to be.

“I think the separator for guys is people that continually work on their game, receive the coaching and never stop being professional in how they go about their business,” Taylor said. “And Svech is definitely one of those guys.”

Svechkov is back in action on Thursday as the Admirals look to stave off elimination in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals.

Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. CT at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena, with the game available to stream with a subscription to AHLTV.