|Tim Gleason – D||Justin Peters – G|
|Jay McClement – C||Manny Malhotra – C|
|Drew MacIntyre – G||Brett Sutter – C|
For the second straight season the Carolina Hurricanes finished in 13th place in the Eastern Conference and it was the fifth consecutive year they failed to qualify for the playoffs.
The Hurricanes did not make any waves in the free agent market and come into the 2014-15 season with nearly the same team that they had last year. They battled a multitude of injuries to key players, but no more than other teams across the NHL, so the question becomes “are they good enough to compete for the playoffs?”
Cam Ward, 30, had been the Hurricanes’ rock for the previous seven seasons, but injuries held him to just 28 starts in 2013-14. He finished the year with a 3.06 GAA and .898 SV%, which are his worst numbers since 2006-07. Anton Khudobin, 28, battled injury as well, but when he was healthy he badly outplayed Ward. He was 19-14-1 with a 2.30 GAA and .926 SV% so you have to think that Khudobin comes into this year as the Hurricanes number-1 option.
Up front the Hurricanes have quality young forwards, but they have been unable to put it all together. They are led by their captain Eric Staal, who had his worst season since his rookie year in 2003-04. Despite the off year, Staal still led the Canes in points (61) for the fifth consecutive year. His younger brother Jordan Staal is known more for his two-way game, but most people expected him to grow his offensive game more than the 40 points (15G / 25A) in 82 games he posted last year. He has boasted strong possession numbers in his career (54.0 CF% in 2013-14) which bodes well for ‘Canes if that possession translates into more goals.
After a great debut season with Carolina, Alex Semin struggled last year and ended his season with wrist surgery. He is expected to be 100 per cent to start the season and with a shot like his, he is always a threat for 30-plus goals. Jiri Tlusty regressed after a career year in the lockout shortened season, but was brought back on a one-year deal. The Hurricanes most intriguing fantasy asset is Jeff Skinner. At just 22-years-old he already has two 30-goal seasons and as long as he can stay healthy, he is a 30-30 threat and one of the top-15 left-wing options. In deeper keeper leagues, Elias Lindholm is another interesting name that pops up. The 2013 fifth overall pick had nine goals and 12 assists (21 points) in 58 games and started taking on a bigger role towards the end of the year. Expect him to challenge for a top-6 role and take another step forward in his development as a full-time NHLer.
On the blueline, they brought veteran Tim Gleason back after trading him to Toronto last year. Gleason is a strong stay at home guy, so he is not going to help your fantasy team, but Andrej Sekera and Justin Faulk will. Sekera’s first year in Carolina was by far his best season. He had 44 points (11G / 33A) which was third on the team and tied for 14th among NHL defensemen. The 22-year-old Faulk also had his best offensive season posting 32 points (5G / 27A) in 76 games.
Overall, the Hurricanes should be better than they were last season, but they will be hard-pressed to make the playoffs. Despite maybe not being a playoff team, their individual talents will most definitely help your make the fantasy playoffs.
Look to the Draft (Ranking Hurricanes Fantasy Players)
- Eric Staal – C
- Jeff Skinner – LW
- Alex Semin – RW
- Anton Khudobin – G
- Andrej Sekera – D
- Justin Faulk – D
- Jordan Staal – C
- Jiri Tlusty – LW
- Cam Ward – G
- Elias Lindholm – C
Click HERE for the Hurricanes’ potential line combinations heading into the 2014-15 season.
Season prediction: The Hurricanes battle the Devils for last in the Metropolitan division.