The Carolina Hurricanes are justified in their search for a top-six forward/sniper, but whenever a team goes shopping for a trade, they should also ask if they’re taking advantage of the ingredients at hand.
That’s a long way of saying that the Hurricanes possess at least one player who could score more goals for them: Andrei Svechnikov.
Looking at certain underlying numbers (as PHT did earlier in December), it seems fair to wonder if Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour should take the training wheels off of Svechnikov, and just let him fly. Yes, there are risks when it comes to really unleashing rookies – particularly in Svechnikov, who’s made an immediate jump after being the second pick of the 2018 NHL Draft – but the rewards can often be worth it.
After all, this is a young man’s game. Besides, Svechnikov frequently looks fully-grown on the ice, even this early in his NHL career.
Sometimes advanced stats don’t slap you in the face like highlight-reel work, though. Svechnikov scored two goals in Carolina’s 6-4 loss to the Montreal Canadiens, and his first one was absolutely gorgeous:
Might that demand Brind’Amour’s attention? There’s some reason to hope for even more.
“We did have a coming out party, for me, out of Svechnikov,” Brind’Amour said, via Sara Civian of The Athletic.
It’s not like Svechnikov is getting totally buried in the Hurricanes’ lineup, yet here’s a pushy request: just keep ramping up his minutes and opportunities, seeing how much he can handle. Carolina needs goals, and maybe they’d get more with more Svechnikov, risks and all. Brind’Amour could even do so selectively, by handing him more reps on the power play, preferably on a top unit that hasn’t exactly been lightning the world on fire, based on full-season stats.
As of Thursday night, the Canadiens are where the Hurricanes want to be (comfortably in a playoff spot), while Carolina’s sitting in Montreal’s expected position (searching for answers, seven points out of the wild card). You can chalk that up to a lot of things – Carey Price has now won four games in a row – but it’s worth noting that the Canadiens are embracing speedy and/or skilled young players like Jonathan Drouin and Max Domi, while shrugging their shoulders and just letting Jesperi Kotkaniemi play. There are quite a few stories of immediate successes this season, with Elias Pettersson and top 2018 pick Rasmus Dahlin also coming to mind.
So why not see what Svechnikov can do? For all we know, rolling the dice might just help the Hurricanes break out of this frustrating funk.
Here’s Svechnikov’s other, nice goal from Thursday:
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James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.