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Svechnikov Shows Maturity, Confidence in First 100 Games

Foegele: "He's got all the tools to be a big superstar"

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes /

Well after Rod Brind'Amour had blown the final whistle of practice at Raleigh Center Ice, Andrei Svechnikov loaded up a white pail of pucks and hauled it off the ice.

This scene isn't unique to Tuesday afternoon, either. Svechnikov is routinely one of the last players to leave the ice after Hurricanes practice, no matter how intense a skate it was.

"I can just get better. I can shoot, work on my things," he said. "If I spend more time on the ice, I get more confident, I think."

It in times like these - when most of the team has left the ice and just a few stragglers are left behind - that Svechnikov reaches into his bag of tricks to try to perfect a move like he scored against Calgary in late October.

Video: CGY@CAR: Svechnikov scores lacrosse-style goal

You've probably watched it a few hundred times. The goal will live on highlight reels for years to come, and Svechnikov's name will forever be attached to the first of its kind scored in the National Hockey League.

"He was trying to show Nechy and I how to do it," Warren Foegle laughed. "I was like, 'How are you doing it this way?' I understand how to do it the other way. I guess it's The Svechnikov. It takes a lot of confidence and courage to do that. I guess it just shows if you practice at one thing as many times as you can, you can be as good as you can with that skill. He showed it in a game, and it was pretty unreal."

Tweet from @Canes: Course: How to Michigan 101Professor: A. SvechnikovEnrolled: M. Necas , W. Foegele

It's not uncommon to see Svechnikov hanging around the rink in the late hours following a game, either. More than 90 minutes after the final horn sounded in the Canes' 4-2 loss to the New York Rangers on Thursday, I spotted Svechnikov shooting pucks into a goal outside of the team's locker room on the south side of PNC Arena.

"It was late. I don't even know. Usually the lights go out in the dressing room when we're still in there," Dougie Hamilton said. "It's fun being in there, more fun when we're winning and playing well."

"It's just getting more confident and getting my shot better," Svechnikov said. "When I play bad, I know I have to do something, and that helps me a lot."

It's this commitment to his craft, this drive to perpetually hone his already elite skillset that distinguishes the 19-year-old forward from his peers and drives his teammates (and friends) to try to emulate his work ethic, which is strikingly similar to that of his head coach.

"He's competitive always," Svechnikov said of Brind'Amour. "I want to go on the ice and be competitive each game."

"He's done it a bunch, staying here. We'll come on off days to the rink a little later in the day. He just wants to get better. That's what you want in a teammate," Foegele said. "He's making himself better, and that makes you feel you need to put in the work, as well."

It doesn't hurt, too, that Svechnikov is a genuinely fun person to interact with, a vivacious personality that isn't hindered by whatever cultural or language barriers that might exist.

Video: Scootering with the Three Amigos

"You can ask anyone in this room. He's an easy-going guy, and he just wants to have fun and get better," Foegele said. "It's fun to hang out with him."

"Just a really good person who wants to get better. For me, he was a friend right away, someone I could try to help, as well," Hamilton said. "I would like to think I have helped him. I try as much as I can, whether he's just watching what I do or whatever, I try to help him with different words and numbers - the 30s and 40s are a little tough for him. It's been good, and I can learn from him, as well. I've taken a lot from him. He's just got a really good outlook on everything. It's fun to be around him."

It's no mystery why Svechnikov was a second-overall draft pick some 17 months ago, the Canes seeing a remarkable, NHL-ready talent practically fall into their laps.

"It's a good day for us," Brind'Amour smiled that June night in Dallas.

Video: Svechnikov Visits Carolina

It's no surprise, too, to see how Svechnikov has matured and evolved in the pressure-cooked environment of his first 100 games in the NHL.

"I think he's comfortable now playing in this league. I think in his first year, especially the first 45-50 games, he was still figuring it out a little. You're not sure what you can get away with or how you fit in the whole league," Brind'Amour said. "Now, he's very comfortable playing against anybody."

Even in the summer of 2018, the Canes' head coach made note of the way the young Russian carried himself as a projected top pick in the whirlwind of hype leading up to the draft.

"He's a young kid, but he's composed, mature, he looks you in the eye. Every interaction I've had with him has been real positive," Brind'Amour said in June 2018. "I think he's going to be a great player. You don't want to put too much pressure on him. He's a young kid, but I think this is a guy who is going to have a great career."

A great career that is only just beginning, only scratching the surface of what's to come. Through 100 games, Svechnikov has totaled 55 points (27g, 28a), fourth-most through 100 games in team (since relocation) history, and he's well on pace to eclipse his rookie season point total, having accumulated nearly half of his jersey number equivalent in points in not even a quarter of his sophomore season.

In the Canes' 8-2 rout of the Ottawa Senators on Monday night, which marked Svechnikov's 100th game in the NHL, he recorded a pair of assists for his eighth multi-point game of the season, already surpassing his seven multi-point efforts from 2018-19. Tied with four others in the NHL, Svechnikov trails only John Carlson (10), Leon Draisaitl (10) and David Pastrnak (9) in multi-point games this season.

Pretty elite company for a teenager.

But, this is the teenager who was called "a complete player" and projected to be "an impact player for your franchise for a lot of years" ahead of the 2018 NHL Draft. This is the teenager who was the first to score a lacrosse-style goal in a real-life NHL game. This is the teenager who is more often than not the last player off the ice after practice or the last to pull out of the north arena lot on a game night.

This is Andrei Svechnikov, brother, and he is among hockey's young elite.

"You can just see how confident he is with the puck and how much he wants to make a difference out there. He's got all the tools to be a big superstar, you know?" Foegele said. "He's so good with the puck, he works hard, he has so much skill and his shot is unreal."

"He looks so comfortable out there. It's only going to get better for him," Hamilton said. "He's got all the tools, and he works so hard. He's going to keep working hard. There's so much potential. He's just going to keep getting better and better."

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