Hockey

Andrei Svechnikov: Too Hot to Stop

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Wonder kid Andrei Svechnikov has done it again, coming into the 2020-21 NHL season hot and ready to play. Svechnikov has scored a goal in each game for the first three games of the season, as well as having two assists. If Svechnikov can keep this pace then he is on track for a season with over 100 points, almost doubling his current total points in the NHL.

This doesn’t look entirely unlikely for the 20-year-old from Russia, as he looks to be improving season after season. He finished the shortened 2019-20 season with 61 points, which is almost double the number of points he had in the previous season. In 2018-19, which was also only his first season in the NHL, he only potted 37 points in 82 games. The total of 61 points only puts Svechnikov in the third slot for points in a season and largely gets those points from assists to lead goal scorer, Sebastian Aho.

Svechnikov also came second in penalty minutes for the 2019-20 season, following only Joel Edmundson, as Svechnikov looked to take on a role of his own enforcer, while also drawing many penalties as a skilled player that the other team constantly wants to wear down.

The Development of Andrei Svechnikov’s Game

When analyzing Andrei Svechnikov’s game, it is important to note that he is still developing. It’s only his third season in the NHL, of which only one has been a full 82 game season while the other two were shortened due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Andrei Svechnikov is also still coming into his own as a sniper while being groomed into the position of a two-way forward, likely taking after head-coach Rod Brind’Amour who played the same style of game.

Svechnikov will also face tougher competition this year, consistently playing against some top tier goalies in Andrei Vasilevskiy, Ben Bishop, Thomas Greiss, Joonas Korpisalo, and many other elite goalies. On top of that, Svechnikov will have to first get by elite defensemen such as Mikhail Sergachev, Miro Heiskanen, Victor Headman, Roman Josi, and Mattias Ekholm who all have their own case for being top defensemen in the league, with Sergachev and Heiskanen both making a case for the best young defensemen.

With this in mind, a more conservative season prediction would be at 80 points. This is more likely attainable for Svechnikov given his continued play on the Carolina Hurricanes top forward line and continued growth of skills throughout practice and game-day situations. Andrei Svechnikov can capitalize from just about anywhere on the ice, starting his scoring this season with an empty-net goal from his own end, and becoming largely famous for his lacrosse goal during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

On top of goal scoring prowess, Svechnikov makes a case for being played on the penalty kill line. Svechnikov has shown his stick checking abilities and his ability to use his frame to block shots and break up plays before they can get anywhere dangerous. With this ability, Svechnikov makes a case for playing on the penalty kill as well as the power play, being able to take the fourth forward position in defence and take a long-range slap shot to score or get a rebound set up for another player.

The downside to his game is his faceoff skill, making him less likely to serve on the 5-on-3 penalty kill lines. Svechnikov has taken 8 face-offs in his time in the NHL and has lost all but one, a likely reason why he elects to be a winger rather than an all-around forward. This inability to take face-offs may see him left out of penalty kill units altogether, as winning the face-off in your defensive end can be the difference between successfully killing a penalty, or giving away a goal.

As the season progresses, look out for Svechnikov’s progress to beating his previous high NHL points tally and any further wonder goals like his lacrosse goal in the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs.

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