Carolina Hurricanes: For Andrei Svechnikov, The Future is Now

MONTREAL, QC - DECEMBER 13: Carolina Hurricanes right wing Andrei Svechnikov (37) waits for a faceoff during the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Montreal Canadiens game on December 13, 2018, at Bell Centre in Montreal, QC (Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
MONTREAL, QC - DECEMBER 13: Carolina Hurricanes right wing Andrei Svechnikov (37) waits for a faceoff during the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Montreal Canadiens game on December 13, 2018, at Bell Centre in Montreal, QC (Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

In a must win game, the Carolina Hurricanes left PNC arena two points closer to playoff participation. Although the grit displayed by this group was evident, and their willingness to never concede, ignites greater hope in the Caniacs; yet, one fact was undeniable during this contest; Andrei Svechnikov has arrived.

There isn’t much one knows at 18. If every person recollects their experience at this defining age, most would admit to a plethora of mistakes, and an even greater number of lessons learned; but, amidst this formative period, is the lack of real responsibility. Teenagers are not often given the pressure of performance, but instead given the benefit of their youth. This is something that is so often forgotten by fans of the Carolina Hurricanes when it comes to Russian rookie sensation Andrei Svechnikov.

The first-year winger was never simply asked to make the roster, or to simply learn from the perspective of the fourth line and grow from the lessons learned by his much-seasoned veteran teammates. Svechnikov was asked to contribute, to be a difference maker. Although this task is seemingly insurmountable for the 18-year-old, wrought with inexperience and uncertainty, it is one that Svechnikov has embraced and, dare I say it, lived up to.

Many Caniacs remember the day well. The 2018 NHL draft lottery, held in the midst of a San Jose and Las Vegas Playoff game, was a defining moment for the Hurricanes franchise, and the new regime at its helm. The Hurricanes jumped in the lottery, given the ability to select second overall to the Buffalo Sabres. There was little debate to who the Carolina Hurricanes would take. Svechnikov had all the tools; a big, strong, versatile winger who could fill the net, all the while providing a physical brand of hockey that predicted his future as top tier NHL winger.

The season that followed has provided many ups and downs for Svechnikov, but his growth has been one of the many highlights of a season to remember. Svechnikov debut as an option on the third and fourth line for Coach Brind’Amour, being tasked with earning the trust of the first-year head coach, who relied heavily on veteran talent and 21-year-old sensation Sebastian Aho to set the tone for this group. Number 37 earned this trust, and that is seen by Svechnikov’s involvement and usage in this home stretch, a home stretch that has seen the Hurricanes first potential playoff appearance in 10 years hinge on every game.

Andrei Svechnikov’s statistical output also speaks to his growth and overall talent level, regardless of his youth and lack of NHL or AHL experience. In his first 20 games, Svechnikov tallied 4 goals and 8 points, followed by 7 goals and 11 points in his next 20 which saw him average more shifts and time on ice. After continued adjustment to the amount of games played at this level, Svechnikov only put up 3 goals and 9 points from games 41 to 60; however, Svechnikov has again found a rhythm with 6 goals and 8 points from games 61 to 75. Still 7 games from the end of the regular season, Svechnikov appears to be riding a rhythm that has seen him register a point in his last three games.

More important to his development than his on-ice production is that Andrei Svechnikov has earned the trust of Rod Brind’Amour, a coach who seems to favor veteran savvy, while placing a premium on invaluable NHL experience. What Svechnikov lacks in experience, however, he makes up for in pure talent. Carolina’s overtime victory over Montreal is a great example. A game that saw the Hurricanes struggle against, arguably, the most skilled goaltender in the world, came down to three on three play amidst a true playoff atmosphere. Svechnikov was paired with Jordan Staal and Justin Faulk, veterans with a combined 21 years of NHL experience. Rod Brind’Amour, with a wildcard spot potentially on the line, put faith in his 18-year-old goal scorer, and he was not disappointed. Svechnikov ended up face-to-face with Carey Price, with a trailing Justin Faulk an option on the pass, and stood toe-to-toe with the former Hart trophy winner. He took his shot and came out with two points for Carolina. Moments like this are what Caniacs can look forward to.

Any player who has contributed this much in a season would catch the eye of the Carolina Hurricanes faithful. What makes this all the more special is that the best years of Svechnikov’s career are yet to come. Compare his first season statistics with that of current point leader Sebastian Aho in his first season, and the output is awfully similar. Aho had 24 goals in 7 more games, compared to Svechnikov’s 20 goals on the year, a feat which made the rookie eligible for a massive $2 Million bonus. If he can develop upon the same trajectory of Aho, this team is looking to have one of the most dangerous top lines in the NHL. The ceiling of a player like Svechnikov is only limited by his coaching and opportunities, and with all the talent the young man possesses, the Hurricanes could be looking at a player with the most goals in a season since number 12 tallied 45 in 2006. The 2018 NHL Draft Lottery will be remembered by Hurricane fans, and it could have them lucking into the playoff relevance for the next decade.

light. Trending. Three Canes Players to give your fantasy team a boost!

Question for CC readers: How many goals will Svechnikov get next season? 30? 40?