Metropolitan Division: Carolina Hurricanes Season Outlook

Metropolitan Division: Carolina Hurricanes Season Outlook

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Jaccob Slavin and Justin Faulk
Carolina Hurricanes 2017-18 Outlook

The Carolina Hurricanes enter this season ready to compete for a playoff spot as they’ve been rebuilding their team these past couple years.

General manager Ron Francis has done a great job of signing his young players to great contracts and keeping the team well below the salary cap in case they want to add throughout the season. Here’s a look at a preview of what to expect from this young Hurricanes team this season.

Here’s a look at a preview of what to expect from this young Hurricanes team this season.

Forwards

The Hurricanes’ forward depth has improved this off-season with the signing of Justin Williams. It was already good before that signing, but when a team can further strengthen a strength, it’s always a good thing.

Justin Williams can still produce at a high rate despite being 35 years old (36 in October). He spent the last two seasons with the Washington Capitals, scoring 22 goals in 2016 and then 24 goals last season. He’ll fit nicely on the second or third line.

Besides that, they have lots of young forward depth who have already proven that they can score.

Sebastian Aho had his rookie season last year and put up 24 goals and 49 points. His 5v5 points per 60 was 2.14 which is outstanding.

Jeff Skinner had a career year last year with 37 goals and 63 points to go along with a 2.70 points per 60. His 37 goals were 6th overall in the league, and that’s what he can do when he’s fully healthy during the season.

They also have Jordan Staal who’s their number one center and great when healthy.

Elias Lindholm, Teuvo Teravainen, Victor Rask, and Derek Ryan all of had over 10 goals last year and when you add Justin Williams to the mix, it only gets better for the Hurricanes. This is another very underrated forward group across the league.

Defense

The Carolina Hurricanes’ blue line is one of the more underrated defensive cores in the league due to them having so many puck-moving defensemen.

It starts with Noah Hanifin, Justin Faulk, Jaccob Slavin, and then goes to Brett Pesce. That rounds out the top four for the Hurricanes defense, and they’re only going to get better as they get into their peak years.

Faulk led the team in points for defenseman last season with 37, scoring 17 goals. Slavin was right behind Faulk with 34 points, with 29 of them as assists. All four of these defensemen had a CF% of over 50% during the season.

The bottom two are Trevor van Riemsdyk and Klas Dahlbeck. It doesn’t have that elite level defenseman just yet, but this is a defensive core that can generate lots of scoring opportunities and put up points.

Goaltending

This is the one position that has plagued the Hurricanes the past couple years. They haven’t had any consistent goaltending whatsoever from Cam Ward and Eddie Lack. They felt it was time for a change and went out and acquired Scott Darling.

Their averaged save percentage last season was .901, which is way below average and isn’t going to get any team in the league into the playoffs. Scott Darling shouldn’t be anywhere near that level. In fact, he had a .924 save percentage backing up Corey Crawford in Chicago which ranks tenth among all goaltenders who faced at least 100 shots last season. He looks to be the guy who will take the Carolina Hurricanes back into the playoffs this season for the first time since 2008-2009.

Scott Darling shouldn’t be anywhere near that level. In fact, he had a .924 save percentage backing up Corey Crawford in Chicago and ranks tenth among all goaltenders who faced at least 100 shots last season. He looks to be the guy who will take the Carolina Hurricanes back into the playoffs this season for the first time since 2008-2009.

Questions

Looking ahead to trade deadline – if sellers who could be on the move, if buyers what area might they need to improve?

If Carolina doesn’t have the season many are expecting to have, they could try and sell off pending free agent Lee Stempniak. If they’re thinking a big trade, Jordan Staal comes to mind, though that’s still highly unlikely. They would likely look to improve their forward depth as that’s what many contending teams like to do at the deadline as they push for the playoffs.

What rookies could make the team?

Valentin Zykov has a chance to make the team after being with Carolina a little bit last year, as does Haydn Fleury. Lucas Wallmark may also have a chance.

Which player could take a step forward this season?

Jaccob Slavin is going to establish himself as the go-to player on the blue line, despite Justin Faulk leading the team in points this past season among defenseman. He’s just freshly off his extension with Carolina and is entering his peak years.

Which players could regress?

A Justin Williams decline is always possible since he’s 35 and there’s certainly a chance that Aho could have a sophomore slump.