Carolina Hurricanes Turn Toward Unlikely Replacement for Svechnikov

Stefan Noesen #23, Carolina Hurricanes Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Stefan Noesen #23, Carolina Hurricanes Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports /

Andrei Svechnikov is usually a big part of the Carolina Hurricanes success. Since the 2018-2019 season, his rookie year when the Hurricanes began their current run of success, Svechnikov has 112 goals and 152 assists for 264 points in 347 games. He has an additional 25 points in 40 playoff games over that span.

When Svechnikov went down with a season ending ACL injury, whoever filled his role had big shoes to fill. Svechnikov was averaging 0.85 points per game this season, only slightly below a 0.88 points per mark which was his career best from last season. Scoring depth, especially in the playoffs, has been a concern for Carolina. It’s why they acquired Max Pacioretty from the Vegas Golden Knights last summer. Pacioretty would have been perfect for a scenario like this, but he is also out with a season ending knee injury.

Come playoff time an unlikely player filled Svechnikov’s spot in the lineup. Stefan Noesen found himself in Svechnikov’s usual spot as a second line winger as Carolina opened up the playoffs against the New York Islanders. Noesen was signed by the Hurricanes in the 2021 offseason and lead their then AHL affiliate the Chicago Wolves to a Calder Cup championship as well as being the AHL’s top goal scorer with 57 goals, eight ahead of the next AHL skater. Carolina re-signed him to a two year deal last summer.

Last year Stefan Noesen was an AHL Calder Cup champion. Now he’s a top six forward on a Carolina Hurricanes team with Stanley Cup aspirations.

Noesen had a respectable 36 points in 78 games while seeing significant power play time at the NHL level for the first time in his career. It’s hard to imagine Carolina envisioned him a top six forward on a Stanley Cup run. He opened game one of the playoffs with the game winning goal, his second in three games going back to the regular season, on the power play. Unfortunately he was also on the ice for the Islanders only goal so he ended the night with a -1 rating.

Carolina is going to need all the help it can get with its forward depth tested early. Even if the Islanders are their lowly seeded, low scoring opponent (they were 22nd in the NHL this season at goals for per game which is second lowest amongst playoff teams just above the Minnesota Wild) the Islanders might have the playoffs best goalie in Ilya Sorokin. In their one game so far, Sorokin saved 1.50 goals above expected. The Hurricane’s Raanta put up an identical amount in that category.

The islanders had a top ten penalty kill in the NHL regular season, so seeing Noesen break through on the man advantage is an encouraging sign. Svechnikov had 16 point (five goals and eleven assists) on the man advantage this regular season. Noesen, although playing in more games, had roughly the same amount with 15 power play points (seven goals and eight assists). In the playoffs, power plays are harder to come by. Better make the most of the opportunity when you get them.

Add in the somewhat surprising decision to start Antti Raanta in net over Frederick Anderson and the Hurricanes couldn’t take any goals for granted. Brett Burns assisted on Noesen’s goal and his offense will be needed as well. Sadly Svechnikov’s only playoff action is going to be ringing the Hurricanes iconic “storm warning”.

Game Two between the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Islanders is scheduled for Wednesday at 7 PM ET.