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2018 NHL Draft: Hurricanes, Svechnikov Enter a Confident Future

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If the Hurricanes are going to break their playoff hex, they will do so on the shoulders of a confident Russian winger.

Brian LeBlanc

DALLAS — The newest member of the Carolina Hurricanes, Andrei Svechnikov, is not lacking in self-confidence.

Question: “Who would you compare your game to?”

Answer: “I think...no, not really. Maybe Evgeny Kuznetsov or [Marian] Hossa.”

The top two picks of this year’s NHL Draft were quite possibly the worst-kept secrets in the league. After the Buffalo Sabres selected Rasmus Dahlin with the first pick, the Hurricanes quickly followed form by taking the Barrie winger, owner Tom Dundon’s daughter doing the honors to welcome Svechnikov to the team.

For Svechnikov, who was in attendance in Florida when his brother Evgeni was a first-round pick of the Detroit Red Wings in 2015, he was excited to follow suit. “It feels great and I’m super happy,” he told the media. “It was my dream and it came true. Just the best moment of my life.”

But were you nervous at all? “Oh no. I wasn’t nervous.”

Slept easy? “No problems.”

From the sounds of things, the hundred-degree heat in Dallas this weekend is the only thing that could have made Svechnikov uncomfortable.

Svechnikov said that he was tipped off that the Hurricanes were going to take him two weeks ago, when he made the rounds with Canes’ season ticket members and spoke to the media. Being asked to model the team’s new third jersey while in town confirmed any suspicions that the Canes were not looking anywhere else.

General manager Don Waddell told the media that the team had zeroed in on Svechnikov as much as a month ago, and the intervening time had only solidified their resolve.

“We did our homework with Andrei,” said Waddell. “We feel very comfortable with the player. We found out he’s not only a good player but a good person and we’re excited about drafting him.”

Waddell had long said that the Hurricanes would have to be blown away by an offer to consider moving out of the second slot, and while some discussions did take place, nothing came close to the level that would have been required for the Hurricanes to strongly consider moving the pick. “We thought all along that we would consider listening to offers but someone’s going to have to blow us away and some teams made some pretty significant offers but nothing that we could move past this player,” he said.

With a brother already a fixture in the league, it’s little surprise that Svechnikov will spend the summer in familiar surroundings as he makes his own jump to the NHL. “I will train with [Mikhail] Sergachev and my brother. I hope it will be fun. Those guys play in the NHL and I will try to be close to them and do the same thing.”

Svechnikov’s Barrie Colts were eliminated from the OHL playoffs in the second round, and he still harbors regret about what might have been in what was presumably his junior hockey curtain call. Waddell said that drive to succeed appealed to the Hurricanes. “When you meet him, he’s really driven. He’s talking about, you know, it’s all about winning,” said the Canes’ GM. “It’s not about individual. It’s not about his stats, not about how many goals scored. It’s all about winning.”

And true to form, Svechnikov left little doubt what his goal is going forward, even taking into account he will make his NHL debut in a little more than four months on a team that hasn’t experienced playoff hockey in nearly a decade.

“I just want to win the Stanley Cup,” he said confidently.