For today’s Caniac Class, we will be examining art; however, this won’t be a typical art history course.
We will not be discussing the beautiful sceneries and lightings of Monet, nor the breathtaking mastery of Rembrandt. Instead we will delve into a more physical art. The subtleness and beauty of a young Russian protégé.
The offensive ability of Andrei Svechnikov.
Since he entered the league, Svechnikov has been establishing himself more and more as one of the most exciting and talented pure goal scorers in the NHL.
In three seasons —essentially two seasons with the stoppage time — Svechnikov hit not only the 50-goal mark but the 100-point mark as well, as his passing game has seemed to grow alongside his natural sniping ability.
He leads his entire draft class in goals and points, which is cool, but did you know that he would be the third highest scorer in the draft class before him too, being only 10 goals behind that class’ leading player, Elias Pettersson?
Oh and if you’re curious to go back a little more, he’d be the seventh highest scorer from the 2016 class.
Bottle all of that together with tremendous physical strength and a subtle explosiveness and Svech’s puck possession and net driving abilities are second to none on his team.
Hurricanes fans are well aware that whenever Svech is anywhere near the net with the puck on his blade, there’s a feeling that a goal could happen at any moment.
And not just because he can score from behind the net.
LACROSSE GOAL ALERT— Brett Finger (@brettfinger) October 30, 2019
Andrei Svechnikov with an unreal goal to tie the game in the third period.
But let’s talk about that too. The big thing. The Svech. The first player to ever pull off a lacrosse-style goal in the NHL, and the freaking kid does it twice in one season.
Andrei Svechnikov did it AGAIN. *Another* lacrosse goal. 14th goal of the season for Svech. Hurricanes up 3-2 in Winnipeg. pic.twitter.com/RQR9xtkxw6— Brett Finger (@brettfinger) December 18, 2019
Not just his talent level, but the confidence to even pull that move out of the bag in the first place.
One of the greatest attributes a scorer can have is unpredictability. A myriad of options presents itself not just before the scorer, but before the defenders and goalie before them too. While the offensive player can go through their options to decide which to take, the opposition has to guess how to best approach the situation.
But the fact that Svechnikov is dangerous from anywhere on the ice creates a lot more uncertainty for opponents.
Svechnikov’s greatest offensive talent, outside of his creativity, is his wrist shot. He isn’t blasting rockets from the circles like Ovechkin, Laine or Stamkos — hell he only has a single career slapshot goal — but his weapon is his wrister.
Over 40% of Svechnikov’s career goals are wrist shots, and it’s exponentially gotten more dangerous as seen in the tick up in it’s success percentage.
From the top of the circles down to below the dots, Svech’s wrister can beat a goaltender clean with seemingly little effort.
His signature move sees him bend slightly over the blade, sometimes kicking his non-leading leg out, before releasing the puck at a great velocity. The vision he exhibits on this shot is astounding as he seems to be always dialed in to where the hole is with the goaltenders.
Andrei Svechnikov with a blocker-side snipe on Pekka Rinne. He has goals in each of the first three games of the season. Hurricanes and Predators are tied at one late in the second period. pic.twitter.com/r7sE6FOlqV— Brett Finger (@brettfinger) January 19, 2021
Andrei Svechnikov with an absolute laser-beam snap shot, it's 2-0 Hurricanes in Chicago. pic.twitter.com/a3PigT2dH6— Brett Finger (@brettfinger) November 20, 2019
Andrei Svechnikov with the walk-off snipe in overtime. Hurricanes beat the Wild 4-3, win their third straight game. pic.twitter.com/KFo6Y4w45J— Brett Finger (@brettfinger) November 16, 2019
And looking at where his goals mostly go in at on net, we see that he has a slight affinity for blocker-side on netminders, but not by much. It’s a very spread out map outside of the five-hole which seems to be his least favored spot to shoot for.
But sniping wristers isn’t the only tool at his disposal.
As of late, Svechnikov has flourished on the power play in the left circle, where his wrist shot has done some serious damage throughout the league, but looking at where the majority of his goals have come from, we can see the net-front ability he exhibits too.
With a handful of tip and deflection goals, we can see that Svechnikov has good enough hand-eye coordination and ability to get his stick into a shooting lane, but the majority of goals from in close are due to his soft hands.
Executing what we in hockey call a “power move,” Svechnikov is able to use a) his strength to body past or toss off defensemen and b) use a bit of explosiveness in his skating to get that separation in the first place.
Andrei Svechnikov. Gorgeous. Hurricanes take a 3-2 lead over the Canucks in the third period. pic.twitter.com/nOZcBE5xMp— Brett Finger (@brettfinger) February 2, 2020
Once he gets past the defense, Svechnikov usually uses a subtle skate turn to cut straight across the crease without losing hardly any momentum, allowing him to then stick-handle in close and tuck in the pucks past opposing netminder’s pads.
Either that, or he utilizes his underrated backhand to shovel it top-down after goalies go down to try and kick the pads across to the post. Or even better yet, he fakes out the netminder on his backhand and goes back to the forehand to shoot it in.
Andrei Svechnikov calls game. The Hurricanes beat the Blackhawks 4-3 in shootout and extend their winning streak to five games. Canes are now 6-1-0. pic.twitter.com/24gpFdYUMe— Brett Finger (@brettfinger) February 3, 2021
The ability for Svechnikov to be able to execute all these plays at speed and in close is such a treat to watch. At 20 years old, we may have only scratched the surface of what Svechnikov may become.
With all of this talk on his scoring ability, we have hardly touched on the other side of his offensive game. The passing.
Obviously when you are as talented a scorer as Svechnikov, a lot of the talk focuses in there, but the truth is that Svech may be just as talented a passer as a shooter.
Those same attributes that allow him to be a successful scorer: the physicality to get separation, smooth skating, high accuracy and vast amounts of confidence and creativity, are utilized just as well in his passing game.
Three points for Sebastian Aho and more offense created by the Svechnikov-Aho-Teravainen line pic.twitter.com/UNz9KzhDUh— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) February 16, 2020
Andrei Svechnikov with a gorgeous pass to Warren Foegele for Foegele's 10th of the season. Jake Gardiner with the secondary helper. 1-0 Hurricanes over the Coyotes. pic.twitter.com/1acsDwR56S— Brett Finger (@brettfinger) January 11, 2020
Was this all an excuse to talk about how amazing it is to watch a player like Andrei Svechnkiov? Maybe, but is anyone really mad. The level at which he plays the game and the fact that his abilities are only improving makes him one of the most fun players to watch night in and night out.
The “Works” of Svechnikov.
The goals, the assists, the plays.
Some are truly works of art in their own right that we are lucky to be able to see put on display for exhibit, like the art in a museum.
Maybe that’s why Dougie Hamilton likes him so much. It’s certainly why I do.