POINTE CLAIRE, QC. — The absence of perpetual spark-plug Brendan Gallagher from the Canadiens’ lineup has been hard on the team’s goal differential, to say the least. But something constructive did ascend out of the situation; the recalling of Sven Andrighetto from the St. John’s IceCaps. The Swiss winger has followed up on his solid start in the AHL and now finds himself in a position where it seems increasingly conceivable that he stays with the Canadiens for the remainder of the 2015-16 campaign.
With the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the QMJHL in 2012-13, Andrighetto lit the lamp 31 times, leading his team in goal scoring. While in the “Q” then Huskies head coach, and current Ottawa Senators assistant, Andre Tourigny doled out quite the comparison for his leading scorer saying “[Andrighetto] can shoot the puck, he shoots the puck like Mike Cammalleri, if you want a comparison.”
The Zurich, Switzerland native made an impact as soon as he arrived in the NHL this season. In the seven games he played alongside Alex Galchenyuk and Lars Eller his two newfound linemates found their stats escalate. Galchenyuk had eight points in those seven games and Eller had four.
Since then Andrighetto has spent a pair of games with Charles Hudon and Brian Flynn after being relegated to the fourth line. The trio has also seen their points go up. Hudon has a pair of assists and Flynn has a lone goal.
Andrighetto himself has found the back of the net four times, a process facilitated by the everlastingly-maligned Michel Therrien. The sniper has the team’s highest offensive zone start percentage at 70.8, that total is also good enough for a tie for ninth in the NHL with John Tavares. However, to his credit, Andrighetto is second on the team in offensive zone finish percentage at 55, 0.7 per cent behind Dale Weise for the team lead.
Despite the number of times the former Husky has been deployed in the offensive zone, he’s not been sheltered to the degree that other talented forwards have been. Andrighetto ranks ninth on the team in Quality of Competition faced at -0.018, in front of Alex Galchenyuk, Lars Eller, Tomas Fleischmann, David Desharnais, Dale Weise and others.
In the absence of the team’s most productive right winger, the 5-foot-10-inch forward is one of the team’s best in terms of Corsi Relative, a statistic indicative of players who drive puck possession. The former third round pick is third on the team in that category at 13.0, placing just behind Brendan Gallagher and Max Pacioretty. He’s also second on the team, amongst players with ten or more games played, in goals for per 60 minutes at 3.81, .36 goals behind P.K. Subban.
“Sven’s best quality is probably his competitiveness; he works really hard [on] both sides of the ice,” said Andre Tourigny of his former student. One of Andrighetto’s best abilities is the ability to get in on the forecheck and subsequently create scoring opportunities for his linemates.
St. John’s IceCaps head coach Sylvain Lefebvre was also complimentary towards the Swiss sniper “From the first day when he found himself [in the AHL this season] he changed his attitude enormously. He matured. He got involved physically, not because he finishes his checks, but by being the first on the puck.” Through ten games this season he’s recorded 18 hits, in his 12 game stint in the NHL last season he only managed to register five.
As Andrighetto gets progressively more comfortable in the NHL, Canadiens fans and opposition alike will begin to see more of the skill that he possesses with the puck on his stick. Presently for the 186-pound winger, it’s more about putting the puck in open areas on the ice and using his speed to retrieve it to generate scoring opportunities for his linemates off the forecheck. His ability to expedite success for his linemates is a main contributor to why the winger was deployed with Max Pacioretty and Alex Galchenyuk for a singular game, in which they generated no opportunities.
Not only has Andrighetto created chances for his linemates, he’s also given the rest of his teammates ample opportunity to put the puck in the net. Over the ten games he has played so far this season, the Swiss forward has drawn five penalties, two against the Islanders, a pair against the Devils, and one versus the Red Wings. Three of those penalties were for interference, one for was holding and the other was discerned for tripping. The Canadiens recently debilitated power play failed to cash-in on any penalties he’s drawn, only scoring one goal in their last 21 attempts with the man advantage.
With the superfluity of injuries and evident holes with this Canadiens team, Sven Andrighetto has made the most out of the occasion and has found his way onto the Habs’ roster and, potentially, future plans that he might not have been part of prior to this season. The Zurich, Switzerland native has become one of the team’s best possession forwards and has been a poster boy for diligently improving through the AHL and attaining your goal of becoming a legitimate NHL forward.