Carolina Hurricanes winger Andrei Svechnikov is ahead of schedule in his recovery from reconstructive knee surgery performed in March and will likely be cleared to play by the start of the 2023-24 regular season, general manager Don Waddell told The Athletic’s Michael Russo today.
Svechnikov tore an ACL ligament just after the trade deadline had passed, resulting in surgery that kept him out for the remainder of the 2022-23 regular season and playoffs. It was a gigantic blow to the scoring ability of a Hurricanes team that still managed to reach the Eastern Conference Final without him but lost in a sweep to the Florida Panthers. Carolina has now lost three consecutive Conference Final series without winning a game – in fact, the franchise, despite all their recent success, has not won a game in the final two postseason rounds since winning the Stanley Cup in 2006.
Being ready for the start of the regular season was always a possibility but never a certainty. The standard recovery timeline for his procedure is six to nine months, meaning he could have returned as early as training camp but as late as the Christmas break. There’s been a tone of optimism around Svechnikov’s recovery all summer after he started skating in mid-July, but Waddell stopped short of saying he’d be ready to go for the season opener as soon as last month.
A healthy and confident Svechnikov will be a core piece in helping the Hurricanes get over the hump and again compete for a Stanley Cup. After reshaping their blueline to have the most depth in the league, thanks to adds like Dmitry Orlov, Anthony DeAngelo and Caleb Jones, the Hurricanes are in the conversation for President’s Trophy favorites ahead of puck drop on 2023-24.
Svechnikov is entering the third season of an eight-year, $62MM contract signed before the 2021-22 campaign. The 23-year-old is still looking to eclipse the point-per-game mark for the first time but was still on pace for back-to-back 30-goal seasons before the ACL tear ended his campaign prematurely. He totalled 23 goals, 32 points and 55 points in 64 games last year and has accumulated 112 goals in 347 games throughout his NHL career.
He’s currently projected to help anchor the team’s second forward line on the left wing, with Jesperi Kotkaniemi down the middle and Martin Necas on the right flank. That line controlled 56.9% of expected goals at even strength through 231 minutes together last season, per MoneyPuck. Youngster Seth Jarvis and free-agent acquisition Michael Bunting could get primary even-strength ice time with Sebastian Aho as their center to start the season.