This is how the future arrives, not with flying cars or refrigerators that refill an empty frozen pizza drawer on their own or Miami Beach suddenly disappearing into the sea, all of which will happen eventually. It's arrives incrementally. One day Martin Necas and Andrei Svechnikov are on the ice together in a meaningless June development-camp practice. The next, they're tearing up the NHL. Maybe.
Seeing Necas and Svechnikov together nevertheless had a tangible sense of Rubicon-crossing for the Carolina Hurricanes, especially when they slipped off their practice jerseys for game jerseys late in Wednesday's practice. They, along with Sebastian Aho, will carry this franchise into the future. Or not. Wherever it is headed, Wednesday was the beginning.
Necas and Svechnikov are rooming together this week and they played together during the four-on-four portion, which was absolutely no coincidence at all.
“That was not a mistake, that we kind of threw them together, just for fun,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "Just to see. Sometimes it happens right away. That's what we're hoping for. They're obviously two important pieces for this franchise, so why not get them together as soon as possible. See where it goes from there. We're obviously really looking forward to both those guys and what they can do."
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The News & Observer
Necas, last year's first-round pick, is clearly ahead of everyone else at this point, as he should be. He's taller and broader than he was in his first development camp last June, swooping across the ice with long, languid strides, a cut above everyone else. It took all of 11 minutes to see there's no reason for him to be here; he's beyond this.
The Hurricanes are counting on him to center one of their top two lines and, to the extent these things can be determined in June, the lanky Czech is ready to take on the challenge – just as Aho was when he made the jump to the NHL.
Svechnikov wasn't quite as fluid or adventurous with the puck. He looked like a talented junior player adjusting to new circumstances and surroundings, just as Necas did last year. The difference between Svechnikov now and Necas then is the NHL-ready body that will give Friday's No. 2 overall pick a stronger chance to survive in the NHL this fall, if he indeed makes the team as the Hurricanes intend and expect.
There seems to be some off-ice chemistry between the two, but at this point that's really a bonus. It's more important that they have chemistry on the ice, especially if they end up playing together this season on a line that would be as talented as it is green. Which sounds like it would be fine with Necas.
“We're already good friends,” Necas said, then tried on his management hat. “On the ice, his shot is really good. He's a good skater. He can pass. He's a really good player, NHL-ready.”
It is folly to try to determine too much from one on-ice session like this, especially at the end of a day that started with a brutal off-ice workout – “The bike," Svechnikov moaned, "very hard" – and ended with a power-skating class that will strain muscles these kids didn't know they had. Necas has been through it before, and it showed. It's all new to Svechnikov.
There were other key players for the Hurricanes' future on the ice Wednesday, from newly acquired defensive prospect Adam Fox to his future Harvard teammate, second-round draft pick Jack Drury, and others. (Of note: Fox said Justin Williams texted him after the trade, which certainly has the aura of someone acting like they're already the captain of this team.) But none carry the weight of expectation Necas and Svechnikov carry as potential Calder Trophy candidates, and none are as important to the future of the franchise as they are, at least at this moment in time.
The Hurricanes' future has arrived. Whatever form it will take, these two are part of it. This was the beginning of something. What, exactly, only time will tell, but Wednesday offered more than enough reason to be excited about it.
Sports columnist Luke DeCock: 919-829-8947, firstname.lastname@example.org, @LukeDeCock