Andrei Svechnikov and Dougie Hamilton — who are both players in need of new contracts, each with a large price tag looming — spoke with the media on Thursday via Zoom as part of the Canes’ first round of exit interviews.
Here’s what they had to say:
On if he was healthy and how we would assess his season: I was healthy all season, so I was fine. Sometimes I was uncertain about it, but I actually was fine. I didn’t have any serious things. But my game, I felt not bad. It wasn’t my best season. I know in the future I will have my best season, but it was a tough season with everything. The schedule in such a short time. It was hard but I felt not bad, but it wasn’t my best season. We’re going to try and work this summer to get stronger.
On the impact Rod Brind’Amour has had on him: He’s had a huge impact. Just done a great job with me and developing me. Just working with me and showing me video lots of times. He’s done a lot with me and I just want to say thank you to him and that we’re going to continue working.
On offseason plans: I actually don’t have any offseason plans right now. Probably just going to stay in Raleigh for a couple of weeks and go from that. Just want to get stronger like I said and improve everywhere. My shot, my stickhandling and just everything. Skating ability too. Going to work on that and try to get better.
On an area of his game he was disappointed in: Maybe down low with the puck. I know I can do that better. I’ve got to do that more. Sometimes, I would just kind of throw the puck kind of somewhere and I actually didn’t know where. I’ve got to get the puck down low more and try to be aggressive there and put those pucks in the net.
On contract discussions and his expectations for his next one: There wasn’t any talks after the last ones before the season. But I would love to stay here forever. I love it here. I love the fans. I love the team. I would love to stay here forever, but I’m going to let my agent figure it out with the team.
On his contract status and how he feels it will play out: To be honest, I don’t have any idea right now. Like I’ve said before, I really wanted to focus on hockey and we didn’t talk about contracts. I wasn’t involved really at all. I let my agent handle it. They kind of tabled conversations till after the season and I’m sure they’ll start talking again soon. But like I said, I was very focused on hockey and trying to win. I’m sure I’ll start thinking more about stuff. I think everyone knows that I really enjoy it here. I got some really good friends and met some really good people in the room and away from the room. Lot of friends that I’ll have and the staff and everyone in the organization is great. I have nothing bad to say about my experience here and in being a Carolina Hurricane. I really enjoyed it. Hopefully we can keep going.
On how hard the season grind was both mentally and physically: I think it just became such a routine that it started to just blur together. Like coming to the rink today felt like we should be playing. That we had our day off and now we’re back at it. But it’s definitely gone by really quick because it’s so routine. Definitely a different year with eating in the hotels and not being able to leave the hotels and go out and all that stuff. We spent a lot of time together and I think to be honest I missed some of that stuff, but it was also enjoyable to be around the guys a lot. Had a really fun year with the guys. It’s definitely weird that we’re done playing. It hasn’t really sunk in yet for sure.
On how he’s felt that he’s grown as a player over the last three seasons: I haven’t really thought about that too much. It’s hard to think back that much over that long of a time, but thinking about it now, I wanted to establish myself as an all around defenseman. Last year I got the opportunity to play first power play. Happy with how I’ve played in that role over the last two years. Happy with how I’ve developed and improved and stuff. Breaking my leg last year and coming back this year was definitely not easy. Hard to go through that and then get back to playing and being yourself so I’m definitely proud of myself for going through that and being able to come back. But I think I’m hungry to become a better player and I think I can do that. I’m ready to keep working and improving and hopefully I can get better than I am.
On what the team needs to get over the hump and reach the ultimate goal of winning a Stanley Cup: It’s hard to say. I think we’re definitely close. We had a great season and lost to a team that’s $18 million over the cap or whatever they are. Unbelievable goalie and all that stuff. I thought we played them pretty close. A couple of those games could have went either way and especially the early games where it changes the feel of the series and stuff. It’s hard to say too because we only played seven teams all year. You don’t really know how our division compares to the other divisions. We don’t know if we were playing the best teams or not so I guess we’ll see how that plays out. But we’ve got a great team, great people and we’re led by Rod who has created an unbelievable culture here in Carolina and I think that’s probably the biggest thing. Hopefully we can get better and see if we can take that next step.
On if he’s taken any time to look back on the journey that was this season: Probably [would describe it as] crazy. You get caught up and it’s hard to think back on all that stuff, but if you think back to all the protocols and testing and all that stuff we had to do at the start of the season. Having no fans and then getting some fans. That first game where we got some fans, I think it was like 2,000 fans, it felt like we were going out for a playoff game with how loud it was. Couldn’t have even imagined at that point what a full stadium would have felt like. To get to the point where we were playing in the playoffs, with a sold out rink, with all the fans, it’s crazy to think back to how it was. It’s been a very busy journey in a way, but it’s been fun. We had a great group. The staff on the road, the players, everybody has made it so fun to keep coming to the rink everyday. Especially when you’re playing well and winning. It was definitely a lot of fun.
On if the season will be the most memorable or simple one that he will never forget: I don’t know. It’s different memories. I think in past seasons you have memories from things away from the rink as well, but this one was pretty much purely hockey. It’s definitely different. I think it’ll be maybe something we’ll look back on in a couple of years and realize what we went through. But I almost feel like it’s normal now. It’ll be different as we go.
On if there was any disappointment in playing a team so far over the salary cap: I wouldn’t say there’s any disappointment. I think it is what it is. I think you don’t even really think about that stuff to be honest. You’re playing against who you’re out there playing. Teams have injuries, teams have full lineups, whatever. It’s just how it works out. I wasn’t knocking the rules or anything, you just realize how many weapons they have. You think of how many more players you could add to your team with that money and you realize how much deeper you’d be. That’s just how it worked out and I know it’s happened with teams in the past. I don’t have a problem with it, you just realize how good that team was.
On if Tampa Bay wouldn’t be as good if not for the salary cap circumvention: It is what it is though. You could say it about every team when it comes to things like injuries. They didn’t have their best player all season and they still had a great year. Still beat us in games and all that stuff. And adding a guy that didn’t play for the entire year and having him come back and be effective and really good right away is impressive as well. I don’t have any knocks on that or on them as a team with what they’re doing. I think it’s just impressive to see how good they are and how much talent they have. I just have respect for all those guys. We’ll see what happens and if they can keep winning and we’ll see how we did against one of the best teams in the league.