The Hurricanes finished with a disappointing 83 points last season despite leading the league with a 54.45 CorsiFor%. Unsurprisingly, they finished fourth last in 5v5 Shooting Percentage and second last in 5v5 Save Percentage. Their SH% is due to bounce back, but a questionable goaltending tandem means there’s no guarantee they improve on their .909 SV% at 5v5.
The Canes are an improving team with a young core. Andrei Svechnikov, the No.2 overall pick in this summer’s NHL Entry Draft, is expected to make the team out of training camp and should provide a major boost to the Canes’ attack. The trade for Dougie Hamilton fast tracks their inevitable success, but they’ll be in tough to make the playoffs in 2018-19 out of a stacked Metropolitan division.
➕ Dougie Hamilton (Trade)
➕Micheal Ferland (Trade)
➕Andrei Svechnikov (Draft)
➕Calvin de Haan (Free Agency)
➕ Petr Mrazek (Free Agency)
Aside from Svechnikov, Micheal Ferland was Carolina’s most notable pickup upfront this offseason. The 26-year-old was acquired as part of the Dougie Hamilton/Noah Hanifin trade. He registered 21 goals and 20 assists last year, spending most of the season on the Flames’ top line with Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau. He’ll be in tough to repeat his 20-goal performance without Gaudreau and Monahan, but he still provides solid depth for the ‘Canes top-nine. That depth will be tested early and often, given Victor Rask’s hand injury that’s expected to keep him sidelined for a few months.
Carolina has split up their top two forwards, Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen, to start the pre-season. The pair played over 730 minutes at 5v5 together last season, posting a CF% of 56.77. They’ll almost certainly be back together at some point this season. Given Teravainen and Svechnikov’s ability to play either wing, Carolina can play all three of them together on the top line, should they choose to do so. Needless to say, Teravainen would see a lot more scoring chances skating with Aho than he would with Martin Necas. As it stands, the Hurricanes are trying to go with a more balanced attack to start the season.
The Hurricanes completely overhauled their blueline in the off-season, shipping Hanifin away for Hamilton and signing the formidable Calvin de Haan to solidify their top-four. The former first-round pick was one the most sought-after defensemen in a relatively-weak free agent class. With Haydn Fleury and Brett Pesce making up their third pairing, the Hurricanes have one of the highest-rated defensive corps in the NHL, according to Corsica.
The arrival of Hamilton raises some questions as to how the Hurricanes’ will divvy up their ice time with the man advantage. Hamilton and Justin Faulk finished 21st and 20th, respectively, in powerplay time last season amongst all NHL defensemen. They are both on the Hurricanes’ top powerplay unit to start the pre-season. 4 forwards and 1 defenseman has become the more conventional powerplay structure in recent years, but it’s no surprise to see the Hurricanes buck that trend given their pair of offensive weapons on the blueline.
Goaltending is the biggest red flag on this Hurricane roster. Despite posting a laughable .888 SV% in 43 appearances last season, Scott Darling is projected to open the 2018-19 season as the Hurricane’s number-one goalie. Carolina is betting on a bounce back year from a guy who is only two years removed from a .924 SV% and 2.38 GAA.
Carolina signed Petr Mrazek to challenge Darling for playing time. Mrazek has had a similar career path to Darling. He’s found success in the past (.921 SV% in 2015-16) but has struggled in recent years, posting a .901 SV% since the start of the 2016-17 season. Carolina will hope at least one of their netminders can regain their pique form. If not, they could squander another year of great puck possession and 5v5 play from their skaters.
|Andrei Svechnikov (31)||Sebastian Aho (40)||Sebastian Aho (67)||Andrei Svechnikov (9)|
|Sebastian Aho (27)||Teuvo Teravainen (40)||Teuvo Teravainen (58)||Sebastian Aho (7)|
|Valentin Zykov (19)||Dougie Hamilton (32)||Andrei Svechnikov (58)||Justin Faulk (7)|
- 73. Sebastian Aho — C22
- 90. Dougie Hamilton — D20
- 146. Teuvo Teravainen — RW29
- 147. Justin Faulk — D35
- 164. Andrei Svechnikov — RW35
- 210. Scott Darling — G34
- 224. Petr Mrazek — G37
- 228. Jaccob Slavin — D60
Predicted Metropolitan Standings
Spots 7 & 8 will be revealed upon the release of our previews for each respective team.
The Hurricanes have the talent to challenge for a wild card spot, but a top-three finish in a stacked Metropolitan division is a longshot, to say the least. The blueline is as solid as any in the league, but they’ll need better goaltending and breakout seasons from their young forwards if they want to seriously threaten for a playoff spot. Better days are ahead for the Hurricanes, they just might have to wait a little while longer.