Andrei Svechnikov is only in his second season of professional hockey, and with under 150 games played for the Carolina Hurricanes he’s already on the verge of mainstream superstardom.
Drafted second overall in 2018, after just two seasons playing in North America with the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the United States Hockey League and the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League, Svechnikov was able to take on the top level of his sport immediately.
At just 18 years old, he made the Hurricanes’ lineup to start the 2018-19 season and certainly did not disappoint, bagging 20 goals and 37 points through a full 82-game freshman campaign.
The raw point production isn’t some of the most impressive totals the NHL has seen coming from a rookie, but those who watched his details knew he was going to develop into something special. This season, just his second in the league, Svech made his case as one of the most exciting teenagers to watch in recent memory.
Most teenaged NHLers boast a couple, high-end aspects of their game which they’ve focused on and developed their entire lives, and mold into quasi one-dimensional players for the first sliver of their NHL careers. Be it Patrik Laine’s shot, Mitch Marner’s playmaking, or the power-play quarterback stylings of Quinn Hughes — there are signatures coming from each young star.
With Svechnikov, that stereotype washes away.
The multi-tooled forward certainly has some specific attributes that can be considered among the league’s best, but these are multiple. Svechnikov is not a one-trick pony in the slightest. The furthest thing from it, actually.
Andrei Svechnikov. Gorgeous. Hurricanes take a 3-2 lead over the Canucks in the third period. pic.twitter.com/nOZcBE5xMp
— Brett Finger (@brett_finger) February 2, 2020
Of course, he can score insane goals like it’s nothing and treat defenses as if they’re not present in front of him, but there’s more to it than that. His ability to break down the opposition has led to scoring 23 goals and 54 points through just 58 games so far this season.
That level of production should be expected for a top-tier forward, but considering that Svechnikov has averaged 16:40 TOI, there’s room for him to grow those raw numbers if he can continue at his current rate.
Beyond all the goals and assists — they’re important, don’t worry — the 19-year-old brings a traditional sense of flair, fun and personality that has been missing from the game.
Andrei Svechnikov with a big hit on Zach Sanford. Vince Dunn then gives him a shove. Svechnikov and Dunn then both get called for roughing for... looking at each other pretty calmly? pic.twitter.com/HSIsd65hlz
— Brett Finger (@brett_finger) February 5, 2020
A la prime Jarome Iginla, Svechnikov is crushing bodies and scoring goals at whim.
He has an attitude of power behind every shift that is a joy to watch and should grab the viewer by two hands, super-gluing their eyes to the screen whenever he’s in motion. He commands your attention every time he’s on the ice — whether he has the puck or he’s hunting it down.
The complete picture of a goalscorer who is also astute defensively and able to lay the body and be physical enough for some more hockey traditionalists is exactly why he should be injected into the sport’s mainstream more than any other upcoming player. At such a young age, he is only just beginning to make his mark on the league. Since the NHL puts so much effort behind initiatives to grow the game, marketing a player like Svechnikov — who can bring multiple dynamics to the sport — can be a way to truly get more attention.
And it goes well beyond what he’s capable of on the ice. To his teammates, the 19-year-old is one of the squad’s main pre-game hype specialists.
There’s enough Svechnikov highlights this season to drool over, but for everything he’s been able to produce on the ice, his guttural screech of Dougie Hamilton’s name takes the cake.
The viral clip spread throughout Hurricanes fandom and accelerated his already piping-hot popularity among the fanbase. If only it seeped into the minds of the general hockey fan and other fanbases throughout the league.
If it has something to do with being in Carolina and a franchise that is usually forgotten about, then that’s fair. Exposure plays a significant role and the Hurricanes aren’t usually the most talked about team or the the one featured on national television on a regular basis.
This season, Carolina had only one single scheduled appearance on national television. The Ottawa Senators are the only team with less, while the Florida Panthers and Winnipeg Jets were also given just a single national game.
Considering that the Senators and Jets were slotted to have disappointing seasons and the Panthers were simply unknown commodities, having the Hurricanes sit there with just one single appearance after they went to the Eastern Conference Final just months prior, is surprising to say the least.
The Hurricanes are no longer just the organization for every hockey-stats person to fawn over, they’ve become a real wrecking force in the league and Svechnikov is leading the way.
Still just a teenager, he’s put on performances that make you fall back in love with the sport. Key clutch goals that drop jaws and bone-crushing hits that completely separate the opponent from the puck effectively, he is a man of many talents.
Talents that obviously include scoring the first ever lacrosse — or Michigan — goal in the NHL. I would be remiss if I were to fight for Svechnikov to become one of the faces of the league without mentioning his mind-boggling goal(s) from just the past few months.
OH MY GOODNESS Svechnikov pic.twitter.com/30zJGNnjD9
— Yahoo Sports NHL (@YahooSportsNHL) October 30, 2019
The now-famous tally certainly surged his name into the spotlight, but now he needs to stay there for his overall play, not just one highlight. And there’s no doubt he should.
Svechnikov’s meteoric rise compared to last season in terms of goals and points is impressive, but his prowess off the ice and in the room, and his ability to create highlight reels out of nothing, should force his name into the mind of every hockey fan.
He is worth the price of admission alone, and there’s no bigger “superstar” quality than that.
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