Carolina Hurricanes winger Andrei Svechnikov—about to start his third NHL season—is on the cusp of stardom. With an unprecedented campaign just around the corner, what can we expect from the Russian phenom?
Make no mistake, Andrei Svechnikov carried a high level of anticipation into his rookie season.
In case you were sleeping, he didn’t disappoint.
Appearing in all 82 games, Svechnikov posted 20 goals and 17 assists. That’s more impressive when you consider that Hurricanes’ coach Rod Brind’Amour let the rookie earn his ice time. Svechnikov wasn’t tossed onto the top line and given free rein; he started low in the lineup and proved himself. The coach also wasn’t afraid to hold him accountable for taking bad penalties, something the winger has shown a knack for.
Svechnikov’s rookie season also saw the Hurricanes return to the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since 2009. During his first season, Svechnikov showed a willingness—well, more like passion—for physical play, never shying away from playing the body. Using his 6′ 2″ frame to his advantage, he battled for loose pucks and fought for position and never looked like he was in over his head.
Then came “the fight.”
The Hurricanes opened the 2019 playoffs against the defending champion Washington Capitals and promptly dropped the first 2 games. Game 3 (the series’ first at PNC Arena) saw Carolina weather an early surge from the visitors before Warren Foegele netted the opening goal for the home team.
Just over a minute later, Svechnikov—who had been hounded by Washington superstar Alex Ovechkin—dropped the gloves with the Capitals’ sniper. The veteran bested the rookie, a fact that was overshadowed by Svechnikov suffering a concussion as a result of the fight. The Hurricanes went on to win the game and the series, however, Svechnikov wouldn’t return to the lineup until the third game of the second round. He finished the playoffs with 3 goals and 5 points in 9 games.
No Sophomore Slump
Svechnikov, despite going scoreless in the season opener, showed that his second season would be even better than his first. In Carolina’s second game—a rematch against the Capitals—he picked up 2 assists, including the lone helper on Jake Gardiner’s overtime winner. He followed that up with another 2 assist game against Tampa Bay the following night.
Then, at the end of October, Svechnikov notched back-to-back 2 goal games against the Blackhawks and Flames. Speaking of that game against the Flames, you may remember this:
Just kidding, I know you remember that.
You also remember that—after recording the NHL’s first lacrosse-style goal—Svechnikov did it again, less than 2 months later.
While those were standout highlights, Svechnikov had a strong second season. He finished the COVID-19 shortened season with 24 goals and saw his assist total jump from 17 to 37. That’s right, he scored as many assists in his sophomore season as he had points in his rookie campaign.
Even better: he did it all in just 68 games before the season was paused. With more time on the man advantage, his power-play points jumped from 5 (all assists) to 20 (6 goals, 14 assists). To the delight of Carolina Hurricanes fans, coaches, and management, he was showing the progression that everyone hoped for.
Once the NHL implemented a return to play strategy that allowed the playoffs to begin, Svechnikov picked up 4 goals and 7 points in 6 games. His biggest moment in the bubble came in the second game of the play-in round against the New York Rangers where he notched a hat trick.
What’s to Come for the Carolina Hurricanes’ young star?
Andrei Svechnikov has shown progression in all facets of his game through his first 2 NHL seasons and there’s no reason to think he won’t continue along that path. The Hurricanes will play in a new—albeit temporary—division this year, one they should do well in (I did a brief write-up on it that you can read here).
The Hurricanes didn’t make any moves to address secondary scoring during the offseason, so Svechnikov—along with Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen—will be counted on to produce at the level they are capable of. To put it in perspective, the trio scored 35% of Carolina’s goals (77 of 222) during the 2019-20 season, led by Aho’s 38.
Getting back to the topic at hand, we could see new career-highs for Andrei Svechnikov. Yes, even with a shortened schedule of just 56 games, it’s not out of the question. Taking a look at how he improved from his first season to his second, I’ve put together a projection of where I think he’ll finish.
It looks like this:
56GP; 28G; 30A; 58P
That accounts for a similar increase in goals-per-game as he experienced between his rookie and sophomore seasons while the assists-per-game remain flat. Based on this projection (again, just my educated guess), he would set a new career mark for goals in a season while falling 3 points short of matching his career-best.
Then again, Svechnikov has shown during his short career with the Carolina Hurricanes that anything is possible.