It finally happened. After what felt like years of waiting, the Carolina Hurricanes inked star winger Andrei Svechnikov to an eight-year, $62 million contract. Not only is it the richest contract in franchise history (in terms of total money owed), it may be the best in franchise history if Svechnikov develops the way he is expected to.
Svechnikov will average $7.75 million per season, which is a similar rate (plus or minus $0.5 million) to nine other NHL forwards. Within the Metropolitan Division, Patrik Laine and Evgeny Kuznetsov are the forwards with the two salaries closest to Svechnikov’s. When stacked up against his new financial peers, his value at $7.75 million stands out in a big way.
Money Well-Earned for Svech
When comparing Svechnikov’s production to forwards paid similarly, he fits right in, with only three seasons of NHL experience. Over the past three seasons, since he entered the league, forwards paid similarly to him averaged 170 games played and 133 points scored. In the same period of time, Svechnikov has 205 games played and 140 points, bringing him in at 0.683 points-per-game, and just under the average among similarly-paid forwards (0.78). He does lead the pack in penalty minutes with 160 (the Winnipeg Jets‘ Blake Wheeler trails with 144), but discipline and accountability are traits that few coaches will be able to teach better than Rod Brind’Amour.
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Considering his age, Svechnikov’s on-ice production absolutely warrants the contract he was given. Being under the average in scoring when compared to those paid like him doesn’t concern the Hurricanes front office one bit; they understand what they’re signing up for. In all likelihood, Svechnikov will be in Carolina through the beginning and middle of his prime years playing in the NHL. With the rising trend among contracts and a nearly league-wide cap crunch, the Hurricanes secured a rising star at what will be far below market value in a few seasons.
The Rest of the Offseason in Raleigh
With the re-signing of Svechnikov, the Hurricanes have checked off their highest priority item for the Summer months. The loss of Dougie Hamilton will sting, but it’s very unlikely the Canes could have afforded to upgrade their depth so substantially while also signing Svech for the long-term. With the deal done at its final price, Carolina is left over with an open roster spot and some money left to play with, and it seems like fans now know where it could be headed as of Aug. 28.
Tom Dundon and Don Waddell have made it very clear that even though many of their moves this Summer have been a bit unexpected, they’re still fully committed to a team built to win now. The team is very comfortable with their forward groupings and any additions will a bonus, including the potential to snag Jesperi Kotkaniemi from the Montreal Canadians via a self-described, “hostile” offer sheet. Whether or not that deal goes through will be up to the Canadians, who have until Sept. 4 to match. If they do not, the money saved while working on Svechnikov’s contract could still go to an upgrade in the forward lines, the one area the team is still looking for a little push.
As the landscape of NHL contracts has shifted over the past few seasons, top-level players have begun to demand higher salaries than ever before in the sport. With their explosive young winger locked up for eight years, Carolina has not only assured themselves of a star talent during his prime, but also struck a deal that leaves the team’s financial options open for both upgrades and an imminent negotiation with Martin Necas.
There’s little doubt that Don Waddell hit another home run with this signing. Though many of the Hurricanes’ moves have been met with wide eyes and scrutiny this Offseason, the Svechnikov signing has the potential to go down as Waddell’s masterpiece. He called Svechnikov “one of the brightest rising stars in our sport,” and has confidence that Svech will be a major contributor on the team’s quest to bring the Stanley Cup back down Tobacco Road.
Although I live in Norman, Oklahoma now, I brought with me a love for both ice hockey and the Carolina Hurricanes from my hometown of Raleigh, NC. Along the way, I’ve joined with the OCCC Pioneer newspaper, the OU Hockey broadcasting team and now The Hockey Writers to expand my experience while I complete my degree in Broadcast Journalism.
I’m an alumni of the 2016 Carolina Gold Drum and Bugle Corps and the 2018 Pride of Oklahoma.