Photo via Jamie Kellner
At just 18 years of age, Andrei Svechnikov of the Carolina Hurricanes debuted last season, playing in all 82 games and tallying 20 goals and 17 assists. It earned him 7th place in the Calder Trophy voting for the NHL’s best rookie, as Svechnikov showed flashes of brilliance and became the first player ever born in 2000 or later to score in the NHL. All 20 of Svechnikov’s goals in the 2018-2019 season were at even strength, so any significant power-play time would probably increase his goal total. Twenty-five games into the 2019-2020 season, Andrei Svechnikov is proving that last year’s standout performance was just a preview of things to come.
The 19-year old is breaking out in his sophomore season; he has 28 points (11 G, 17 A), just 10 points behind his total through 82 games last season. His pace this season would give him 92 points if he plays all 82 games—a higher total than his $8.4 million-per-year-teammate Sebastian Aho has ever reached. Svechnikov’s advanced stats make him look like a superstar too. He ranks 5th among NHL wingers in offensive point shares (a measure of how many points in the standings a player contributes due to his offense) this season with 2.7, sandwiched between fellow Russians Alex Ovechkin and Artemi Panarin. Ovechkin and Panarin make an average of about $10.5 million a year while Svechnikov costs the Hurricanes a measly $925,000 this year. Corsi for % (CF%), a stat that measures how often a team is controlling the puck when a player is on the ice, says that the Hurricanes are dominant when Svechnikov is on the ice. His CF% is 65.4, meaning that the Hurricanes are controlling the puck over 65% of the time when Svechnikov is playing. This stat isn’t in the least bit surprising: any team would dominate with a player who has Svechnikov’s combination of skill, physicality, and hockey IQ.
Svechnikov’s elevated level of play has caught the attention of Head Coach Rod Brind’Amour, who has rewarded the young Russian with more ice time this season. While Svechnikov played a respectable average of 14 minutes and 39 seconds last year, his average time on ice has increased to just over 16 and a half minutes per game this year. He is also seeing almost a full minute more of powerplay time per game, going from 1:55 last year to 2:51 so far this season. This power-play time has been fruitful, as Svechnikov has already contributed 4 goals and 10 assists on the powerplay. In the last few weeks, Brind’Amour has also moved Svechnikov to a line with the Canes’ two standout Finnish forwards, Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen. Svechnikov has thrived with these two playmakers, tallying a point in 8 straight games. The Canes are 6-2-0 in these games, so I can’t see Brind’Amour making a change any time soon. In fact, the Hurricanes are 13-3-0 this season in games that Svechnikov records a point.
As this season continues, expect Svechnikov to continue to make the most of his opportunities, possibly reach 40 goals, and maybe come close to 90 points. Even if his scoring slows down at some point this season, the future couldn’t be brighter for the 19-year old. It shouldn’t surprise anyone if Svechnikov is firmly in the top 5 or 10 players in hockey in just a few years—his rise to stardom is just beginning.