Yesterday’s Daily Cup of Joe took an early try at tallying up goal totals for the 2018-19 Carolina Hurricanes by adding up individual player totals. The article included a base number from me and then quick reader surveys with “Sounds right”, “Higher” and “Lower” as options. I put 2018 draftee Andrei Svechnikov at an even 20 goals, but as a talented 18-year old making a big jump from Canadian juniors straight to the NHL, the range of possibilities is wide.
Today’s Daily Cup of Joe makes an attempt assess that range and set reasonable expectations for Andrei Svechnikov for the 2018-19 season.
Is he guaranteed an NHL roster spot?
Guaranteed is a strong word, probably too strong, and after rushing Elias Lindholm a few years back with bad results, my hope is that the team will be careful with this situation. For me, that means making an honest assessment in training camp about whether Svechnikov is ready to at least learn at the NHL level.
That said, all indications are that he will prove ready for the NHL. A couple checks with scouts/writers who watched him regularly in Barrie last season say so as does most everything else one can find to read on Svechnikov.
Further complicating matters is the fact that because he is a Canadian junior draftee, Svechnikov must either play at the NHL level or be returned to his junior team. The AHL is not an option. That makes 2018-19 a decision between the NHL and the OHL. Best guess is that even if he is not lights out at the NHL level that his development will be better served by NHL ice time.
What is recent history with current year draftees jumping straight to the NHL?
Recent history offers a variety of comparables of current year draftees who jumped immediately to the NHL
2017: Nico Hischier who was the #1 overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft by the New Jersey Devils made the immediate jump as did Nolan Patrick who was the #2 overall pick in 2017 by the Philadelphia Flyers. Neither played his way into the Connor McDavid or Auston Matthews tier, but both looked capable at the NHL level for the 2017-18 season. Hischier reached 20 goals and had 52 points. Nolan Patrick had a more modest 13 goals and 30 points in 73 games. Most seem to think that Svechnikov is a better player than either Hischier or Patrick.
2016: The 2016 draft saw Auston Matthews and Patrick Laine go first and second overall. The duo scored 40 and 36 goals respectively and represent the dreamiest of ceilings for Andrei Svechnikov in 2018-19. Jesse Puljujarvi who was selected fourth overall, also logged NHL ice time but posted a meager one goal and seven assists in 28 games before being demoted. Matthew Tkachuk, who was selected sixth overall, also had a strong rookie campaign with 13 goals and 48 points.
2015: Also from the category of proving that incredibly high results are possible, the special 2015 draft class put three forwards immediately into the NHL all with strong results. Connor McDavid instantly established himself as an NHL star. Jack Eichel, who went second overall, put up 24 goals and 56 points, and Mitch Marner, who went third overall, had 19 goals and 61 points.
So when one looks over the past three drafts, each of the top two draft picks have jumped to straight to the NHL level. Of those six players, five of six have surpassed the 50-point level. In addition two of three other draftees who made the immediate jump had strong rookie seasons.
Who is the best comparable?
If I had to pick one player from the list to compare Svechnikov, I think it would be Laine. To be clear, I am NOT saying that Svechnikov is destined to push close to 40 goals in his rookie season. But I do think the two are similar in the sense that both are players whose skill set leans finishing. If put in a positive situation like Laine was (i.e. with Aho and Teravainen), could Svechnikov tear up the NHL as an 18 year old? I think the talent is there to at least make it a possibility.
What is reasonable?
When one considers Svechnikov’s ability per scouting and then also considers recent draftees who have made the immediate jump, I think something like low 20s for goals and low 50s for points is a reasonable estimate. Six of eight previous players cleared the 50-point level, and Svechnikov seems to rate as highly these players.
But is massive upside out of the question?
Despite putting forward a much lower total for the ‘likely’ scenario, I do think a huge season is possible. As a skilled finisher, Svechnikov could mesh well with Aho and Teravainen. That duo has the potential to put the puck on Svechnikov’s stick with a chance to score on a regular basis. At that point, it might just be a matter of how quickly Svechnikov makes the transition?
What say you Canes fans?
1) Of the other recently drafted forwards who are mentioned above, which do you see as the best comparable for Sechnikov?
2) What are the odds that Svechnikov has a huge rookie season like McDavid, Laine and/or Matthews?
3) What do you project for goals and total points for Andrei Svechnikov for the 2018-19 season?