Are you not entertained?
For anyone who watched Andrei Svechnikov during his time in the USHL and OHL, the 20-year-old blossoming into an absolute star in the NHL is far from surprising. In fact, it almost felt like this was the only inevitable outcome given how naturally gifted he was at hockey.
Still, there are no guarantees in professional sports and despite being taken second-overall in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, Svechnikov could have easily faded into obscurity. Instead, he’s quickly blossoming into one of the NHL’s most exciting young players and has taken the next step in his quest to superstardom during the NHL’s restart.
Before we get into present-day Svechnikov, though, let’s take a look at what he did prior to this point in his career.
Svechnikov Took the NHL By Storm as a Rookie & Sophomore
Scoring 20 goals and 37 points in 82 games as a rookie, people immediately took notice of the 6-foot-2, 195-pound winger out of Russia. His strong, smooth strides, natural skill with the puck and his impressive size for an 18-year-old made him a very intriguing player right out the gate.
Heading into his sophomore season on a Hurricanes team that had blown expectations out of the water in his rookie year, the pressure was on Svechnikov to continue producing and developing into a player that the Hurricanes could build a gameplan around.
To the delight of the Hurricanes, their fans and the hockey world in general, Svechnikov would follow-suit and blow all of the expectations placed on him out of the water. He’d score 24 goals and 61 points in 68 games, showing that his playmaking ability that was so hyped up coming out of the Draft wasn’t a myth.
It wasn’t just production on the scoresheet that made Svechnikov so enticing either. For the most part, it was the way Svechnikov composed himself throughout the year and the excitement level he brought to each and every shift.
Svechnikov Already Has Highlight Reel Moments
It doesn’t feel like too big of a stretch to say that the vast majority of hockey fans really started to take notice of Svechnikov’s ability when he scored his lacrosse-style goal against the Calgary Flames in October.
While this goal in and of itself would be enough to cement a player in highlight-reels for years to come, Svechnikov’s appetite for excitement wouldn’t stop there. He’d score another lacrosse-style goal less than two months later against the Winnipeg Jets, knocking off another Canadian team from his bingo card. Watch out, Montreal, Toronto, Edmonton, Ottawa and Vancouver.
Svechnikov isn’t just a one-tool player. In fact, he may be anything but a one-tool player given the way he plays and beats his opponents.
From his strong skating to his natural vision with the puck, Svechnikov’s offensive abilities were never really in question. At the NHL level, though, succeeding takes a lot more than natural skill. For Svechnikov, that’s where his impressive strength and physicality come into play.
Whether he has the puck on his stick or not, Svechnikov is able to outstrength many of his opponents despite only just turning 20 years old in March. He possesses one of the most lethal shots in the NHL and he actively elevates his game in big situations.
Svechnikov Shining on the Big Stage
So far in the NHL’s qualifying rounds, Svechnikov has done nothing to point to the contrary, either. This included a two-goal playoff debut just one year ago.
With hockey – and sports as a whole, taking the backseat to health concerns during the COVID-19 outbreak, many were anxiously awaiting their fix of live sports. This has meant that more and more eyes have been on each NHL game than what may have been the case otherwise, just begging to be entertained.
Svechnikov has been more than happy to oblige.
In his first meaningful game since the NHL’s pause, he’d record an assist, three hits and three shots in 17:38 of ice time. This was only the tipping point as well as he’d really turn things up in Game 2, scoring the game’s opening goal just 4:32 into the game before giving his team the lead once again in the second just 1:11 into the middle frame.
Impressively enough, those two goals came on Svechnikov’s first two shots of the game. He’d continue that streak by scoring his third goal, completing the hat-trick, on just his third shot of the contest.
His second goal would also serve as the game-winner for the Hurricanes and would give them a very comfortable 2-0 lead in their best-of-five series.
The NHL is in a great state in regards to young, impactful talent taking the reigns as stars in the NHL. Svechnikov is no exception to this and deserves to be at the forefront of the discussion on a Hurricanes roster that’s no stranger to young talent shining through. His stardom hasn’t been limited to his play on the ice, though.
A Star on and Off the Ice
For many, the success of a player comes from his production on the ice. For those who have been around professional athletes, though, the players who garner the most respect from their peers are the ones who lead by example both on and off the ice.
Obviously on-ice production is the most important thing as far as the game of hockey is concerned. It’s the way teams negotiate contracts and it’s the way players earn themselves opportunities on rosters.
That doesn’t mean that the things done off the ice hold any less meaning, though.
During the offseason, Svechnikov would give back to the Wake County Boys & Girls Club by delivering 2,500 disposable masks and 25 5.25-gallon containers of hand sanitizer. This was part of a donation plan that was set i motion by both Andrei and his brother Evgeny Svechnikov.
The brothers grew up in Russia where their parents would work odd jobs and do whatever they could to help their sons achieve their NHL-goals. This would obviously pay off, but the humble-beginnings were not lost on nor forgotten by Svechnikov who wanted to help as best he could.
“I started thinking about what it was like growing up as a kid with my brother. It was a pretty tough time for us,” Svechinkov said. “It’s been a very difficult time [now], so I just want to help the people.”
It’s the initiatives like this that don’t get discussed enough relative to highlight-reel plays. Understandably so. With how difficult times have been in recent months, though, it’s great to see that both Svechnikov brothers felt that giving back was just as important as playing well on the ice.
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