RALEIGH — It’s weird to think of Andrei Svechnikov as someone approaching his 30s, but that’s what the Hurricanes winger will be when his new contract expires.
Carolina tied up one of their cornerstone players Thursday, signing the 2018 second overall pick to a maximum-length eight-year contract that will pay him an average of $7.75 million a season. The $62 million total is the most ever handed out by the Hurricanes in a contract, besting Jordan Staal’s 10-year, $60 million contract signed in 2012.
“It’s actually an easy decision for me,” Svechnikov said in a Zoom call with reporters. “I want to be (in Carolina for) eight years. I want to be a Hurricane.”
The 21-year-old from Barnaul, Russia, is one of the game’s emerging stars, scoring 59 regular season goals in his first three NHL seasons, including two lacrosse-style tallies that instantly made him the talk of the league. Svechnikov also had the first playoff hat trick in the history of the team, scoring three times on the Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist in Carolina’s Game 2 play-in round victory in the NHL’s bubble two seasons ago.
Svechnikov will get a large signing bonus in Year 1 of his deal — $4,000,037, a nod to his number in the final two digits — as part of his $6 million pay day in 2021-22.
As for his first big purchase with his signing bonus?
“I don’t know, really,” he said. “I didn’t think about it, but I will probably just give it to my parents, to my family.”
Svechnikov will then earn $7 million in 2022-23, $9 million in both 2023-24 and 2024-25, $10 million in 2025-26, $7 million in 2026-27, $6 million in 2027-28 and $8 million in 2028-29, according to CapFriendly.com. He will have a 10-team trade list clause in the final four years of the deal.
Now Svechnikov will need to turn his flashes of brilliance into consistent production.
After a breakout campaign that saw him score 24 goals and total 61 points in 68 games during the first pandemic-shortened regular season in 2019-20, Svechnikov’s production took a step back last season with 15 goals and 42 points in 55 games.
The Hurricanes are convinced their long-term commitment to him is the right move.
“He’s all-in,” Hurricanes GM Don Waddell said during the call. “He’s a dedicated athlete, he’s a great teammate, the guys love him. … I don’t think (the contract) changed his way of thinking or the way he conducts himself.”
The commitment to Svechnikov would also indicate he’s set for a bigger role on the Hurricanes. While he has already become one of the faces of the franchise, Svechnikov averaged just 14:39, 16:44 and 17:32 minutes of ice time in his first three years in Raleigh. It should be expected his ice time will continue to climb, and that could perhaps come with a full-time spot across from Teuvo Teravainen on the top line centered by Sebastian Aho.
It’s also probably not a coincidence that Svechnikov’s numbers dipped last season when Teravainen played just 21 games due to ongoing concussion issues. Teravainen has gotten a primary assist on 10 of Svechnikov’s 59 career goals and 14 assists in all— both tied for the most with the recently departed Dougie Hamilton. Svechnikov has also assisted on 10 of Teravainen’s 20 goals over the past two years.
Svechnikov’s contract has few comparables among wingers in the NHL — only Arizona’s Clayton Keller ($7.15 million AAV) has signed a similar eight-year deal as a 21-year-old in recent seasons. And while many have clamored this offseason for the Hurricanes to finalize an extension with Svechnikov — most expected him to sign a short-term contract deal rather than a long-term deal — there are still several big-name restricted free agents left unsigned. Rasmus Dahlin, Jesper Kotakniemi, Brady Tkachuk and Quinn Hughes — the Nos. 1, 3, 4 and 7 players picked in Svechnikov’s draft year, respectively — have yet to agree to new contracts, and neither has 2019 Calder Trophy winner Elias Pettersson.
“I think anytime you’re dealing with a contract, the sooner you can get it done I think it’s better for everybody,” Waddell said. “We’re gonna start training camp Sept. 22. We want to get Andrei back here and get him back with his teammates. … I didn’t want to have this drag into training camp, and neither did Andrei.”