NHL’s New Bright, Young Star Leading Carolina Hurricanes to Their First Post-Season in a Decade
NHL – October 15, 2018
Nobody could have expected the Carolina Hurricanes to have such a remarkable start to the season. The team has won 4 out of its 6 starting games this October, beating their main competitors in the Atlantic Division – the Columbus Blue Jackets and the New York Rangers. After years at the bottom of both Division and Conference tables, Carolina is now looking set to find itself in the struggle for a play-off spot.
It’s amazing news for a team whose best result in the last five seasons was 6th place in the Atlantic Division (2015-2016) without any visible chances of reaching the play-offs. The Hurricanes haven’t even made the playoffs since the 2008-2009 season, when they lost the Conference Final to the Pittsburgh Penguins, beating the Boston Bruins and the New Jersey Devils on their way there.
Despite that Carolina had missed the two post-seasons before the 2008-2009 season, the previous generation of fans of the Stanley Cup-winning team (2005-2006) still had every right to expect more from their favorites—unlike the current generation of fans who are used to constant losses from the Hurricanes. But this season seems to be offering a glimmer of hope.
And this “glimmer” has a name: the young right-wing forward Andrei Svechnikov, who has already scored twice and given two assists this season. Born March 26, 2000, he became the first player born that year to score a goal in an NHL game, opening a new era not only for the Hurricanes, but for the whole league in general.
Andrei was really good last season. Being a part of the Barrie Colts organization in the Ontario Hockey League, he gained 72 points (40 goals and 32 assists) in 44 games in the regular season, with another 11 points in the play-offs. Following this amazing season, Svechnikov was named the 2017-2018 Canadian Hockey League Top Prospect of the Year. No wonder he was considered to be one of the favorites of the NHL Entry Draft of 2018 and was chosen by Carolina second overall.
“When I was growing up, this was my dream, to score the first goal in the NHL and now that I scored, I’m super happy,” Svechnikov said in an interview. “We want to just do our jobs, listen to our coach, and win every game.”
The Hurricanes’ director of amateur scouting Tony MacDonald is also impressed with the fact that Svechnikov takes pride in doing the little things well, and that he knows how to adapt because he’s such a quick learner.
“Andrei has his own style and his game is perfectly suited to the one that is played today,” MacDonald said. “Our only other second overall pick in the draft was Eric Staal in 2003, and while they are different type players, the one thing Svechnikov and Staal have in common is they score big goals in clutch situations.”
If Svechnikov continues racking up such strong statistics, the question of who will win the Calder Memorial Trophy (awarded annually to the best rookie of the season) will be easily answered, without any other candidates appearing on the horizon.