We are now eight games into the season, and it seems like Andrei Svechnikov is back to Canes hockey. Svechnikov and the Canes have taken a cautious approach to his return, making sure that he is 110% ready after a torn ACL back in March. Per Walt Ruff of the official Carolina Hurricanes website and according to Head Coach Rod Brind’Amour, Svech was very close to playing last night against Seattle, so that means that he just might make his season debut tonight in a favorable matchup against the San Jose Sharks.
With Svech’s return, the biggest question that comes to my mind is what will happen with the Canes top six forward group? Svechnikov, in my opinion, is our most skilled offensive player, and he will eventually, if not right away in his debut, get a guaranteed spot in the Canes’ top six. However, that means that one player in the current top six, who all have looked quite good so far this season, will likely find themselves placed onto the fourth line and have their playing time significantly decreased despite their good play thus far.
Let’s talk about that.
Here is the Canes current top six as of last night’s game against the Kraken:
Teravainen – Aho – Jarvis
Bunting – Kotkaniemi – Necas
Out of these six players, who will be demoted with Svechnikov’s return?
I am going to start with the players who I think are 100% safe: Aho, Jarvis, and Necas. These three players lead Canes forwards in ice time so far this season, averaging over 19 minutes per game. They possess game-changing ability and are untouchable for me.
That leaves Teravainen, Bunting, and Kotkaniemi. Out of these three, I would have to say that Kotkaniemi will find himself out of the top six once Svech is completely healthy and back in the lineup. KK has been excellent for Canes so far this season, and he is actually tied for the lead in goals and points, with four and nine, respectively. It’s a tough decision, but KK just doesn’t give as much to this top six as would Teravainen and Bunting. Teravainen is a more well rounded player, particularly on the defensive side of the puck, and Bunting provides greater offensive upside paired with the grit that we don’t really get elsewhere in this top six.
Who will be our second line center?
I know what you are thinking. KK is our second line center. Out of all people, how could be replace him? That’s a great question, and I am glad to you asked that. The answer is that we have options. The second line center replacement could be any of these three: Teravainen, Jarvis, or Necas. I would like to see Teravainen or Jarvis assume this role.
With Aho’s recent injury, we saw Teravainen play as the Canes first line center, and he did very well. Like I just said, Turbo is a very well-rounded player who is good on both sides of the puck, perfect for a center. During that time, he has also been excellent in the faceoff circle winning 34 out of 65 faceoffs, which is 52.5%.
Seth Jarvis has been playing like a man possessed. He looks so good, and he would be my pick to give a shot in this second line center role and believe that it could help take his game to the next level. We saw him develop last year as a reliable two-way forward, and he has continued suit this season, while also finding consistent offensive production. Most surprising to me is that he is 18 out of 32, or 56.3%, in the faceoff circle so far this season. Those are Jordan Staal numbers! Yes, it’s a limited sample of just 32 draws, but if he can stay within 5% of that, give that man the job!
I am very exited to finally see Svech back on the ice in a Carolina Hurricanes uniform. It has been a long road of recovery, and I wish him the best throughout this season.
Let me know your thoughts! Who will Svech replace in the top six forwards?