Andrei Svechnikov was perhaps the biggest slam dunk prospect that the Hurricanes have ever drafted. After a solid rookie season, he finished 7th in the 2019 Calder Trophy voting, behind two fellow 2018 first round picks in Brady Tkachuk and Rasmus Dahlin. But despite their head starts, Svechnikov currently leads all 2018 draftees in points with 66 (31g, 35a) through 110 NHL games played. His elite ability wasn’t disputed — it was just a matter of how long it would take the Russian to blossom at the NHL level. And it really didn’t take long at all.
In his sophomore season, Svechnikov leads Hurricanes skaters in both points (29) and goals (11), and is on pace for 85 points. After being deployed sparingly by Rod Brind’Amour as a rookie, his time on ice is up by nearly two minutes per game this season, and he’s being relied on in key situations — like on the power play, where he’s seeing the third-most ice time per game on the team.
He’s taken advantage of the increased exposure. In his rookie season, the young Russian reached the 20-goal-mark without recording a single power play goal (which is an incredible feat — he led all rookies in even strength goals last season). This season, he leads the Hurricanes in 5-on-4 goals with four. Svechnikov is a true pure goal scorer, and getting a player like that going on the power play is a must.
Svechnikov’s increased exposure goes beyond his special teams time. He has spent a lot of his ice time this season on the Hurricanes “scoring line”, alongside Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen. A player with his acumen belongs on a top line, and pairing him with the Finns is perhaps the most lethal offensive trio on the team. It seems to be working out — the line has combined for nine goals thus far, which is the most of any trio on the Hurricanes this season, and their Goals For Percentage is nearly 70%, indicating that they’re scoring a lot more than they’re getting scored on. That’s exactly what you want out of a top line.
His underlying metrics confirm the eye test. He’s 12th in the league in Corsi For Percentage at 57.16% (among skaters with at least 200 minutes of time on ice this season). He’s second on the Hurricanes in GF% with 61.29%, and has shown a developing playmaking ability — which is highlighted by the fact that he led the Hurricanes in points (17) and tied for first in assists (11) in the month of November.
He’s slowed down a bit of late (by his standards) with just three assists in his last five games, but he continues to generate scoring chances at a high rate, and repeatedly reminds us of why he was such a highly touted prospect. At 19 years old, his best is yet to come.