There's a love affair going on in Raleigh, and the partners just made a serious commitment. Winger Andrei Svechnikov has signed a new eight-year contract with the Carolina Hurricanes worth $62 million and a very tidy cap hit of $7.7 million per season.
That's great value for a 21-year-old who is about to enter the prime years of his career and with Svechnikov's excellent combination of power and skill (some folks have already rechristened 'The Michigan' lacrosse goal as 'The Svechnikov,' but don't say that if you're in Ann Arbor), Carolina looks to have a top-end contributor locked up for a long time now – just as they planned.
"From Day 1 we were always talking long-term," said Carolina president/GM Don Waddell. "That was the good part; we were always on the same page."
Coming off his three-year rookie deal, Svechnikov easily could have signed a bridge contract of two or three seasons, as is common with many young stars these days. But the big kid knows what he has in Carolina and is excited to build on the team's recent success.
"It was an easy decision for me," Svechnikov said. "I want to be a Hurricane. We've got a great team and great coaches. I've loved this place for years, it's a special place. You come into the locker room and everyone wants to have fun and win every game."
Though Carolina fell to the eventual back-to-back champions from Tampa Bay in the second round of the 2021 playoffs, Svechnikov believes the team is well-positioned for a run. Even though the team lost top defenseman Dougie Hamilton to New Jersey in free agency, the Canes did add a number of vets and completely changed their goaltending corps this off-season.
Having said that, a lot of Carolina's most important pieces are already in town. From Svechnikov to Sebastian Aho to Jaccob Slavin, this is a team poised for a run and if Svechnikov continues to ascend the way his development curve suggests, he'll be even more of a beast to handle on the wing.
In his first two seasons, Svechnikov hit the 20-goal mark and based on his skill set and work ethic, hitting 30 next year doesn't seem like it will be a problem.
"He puts the time in," Waddell said. "I'll walk by the rink an hour or two after practice is over and he's out there shooting."
In coach Rod Brind'Amour, Svechnikov has a bit of a kindred spirit – no one has ever questioned the drive of 'Rod the Bod' after all – and a mentor on the ice.
"He's a great coach and a great guy," Svechnikov said. "I'm very happy working with him and hopefully we can make a few Stanley Cups happen."
Svechnikov himself is a pretty easy kid to like. Coming over from Russia as a teenager, he followed in the footsteps of older brother Evgeni, the Detroit Red Wings first-rounder who just signed a tryout contract with the Winnipeg Jets. Andrei went to USHL Muskegon as a 16-year-old with his brother just a half-hour down the I-96 in Grand Rapids with the AHL's Griffins (their mom also came to Michigan).
Svechnikov dominated with the Lumberjacks, winning USHL rookie of the year honors and also earning the MVP award with Russia at the World Jr. A Challenge. He jumped up to the OHL for his draft year, tearing it up with the Barrie Colts and catching the eye of Carolina, with the Canes taking him second overall in the 2018 draft.
His first three seasons with the Canes were solid and he's got a lot of support in the organization.
"He's just a fun guy to be around," Waddell said. "I enjoy every minute with him."
Thanks to the new contract, there will be a lot more enjoyable moments with Svechnikov in Carolina.