The Hurricanes are ready to get rolling

A season after finishing ten points out of a playoff spot, the Carolina Hurricanes are looking forward. Ron Francis has completely changed the state of the Hurricanes. He has turned a team of AHL caliber players to a team full of NHL skill. With the start of the season just days away, the roster began to take shape with a number of roster moves.

Francis has really bolstered the teams’ depth in the last day or two. The Canes claimed forward Martin Frk off of waivers from Detroit, claimed Klas Dahlbeck from Arizona, and signed free agent defenseman Jakub Nakladal. All three players are on the Hurricanes final roster.

Opening night roster:

Forwards (14): Jordan Staal, Victor Rask, Jay McClement, Jeff Skinner, Joakim Nordstrom, Sebastian Aho, Elias Lindholm, Bryan Bickell, Andrej Nestrasil, Lee Stempniak, Teuvo Teravainen, Viktor Stalberg, Martin Frk, and Phil Di Giuseppe.

Defensemen (8): Justin Faulk, Brett Pesce, Roland McKeown, Jaccob Slavin, Noah Hanifin, Ron Hainsey, Klas Dahlbeck, Jakub Nakladal.

Goaltenders (2): Cam Ward, Eddie Lack

Injured Reserve: Ryan Murphy

Looking at the roster, this year’s Canes team has something we haven’t had much of in the recent years; depth. All four lines up front will have skill. All defensive pairs will be solid. With the top three forward lines pretty much set, the fourth line has a number of options.

Potential forward lines:

Skinner-Rask-Di Giuseppe

Nordstrom-Staal-Stempniak

Aho-Lindholm-Teravainen

Frk-Nestrasil-Stalberg

McClement

Bickell

One thing’s for sure concerning the forwards; Bill Peters has options. Assuming the previous lines are correct, all four lines have a mixture of scoring, grit, and skill. And that’s a huge upgrade over last year. Nathan Gerbe (Switzerland), Brad Malone (AHL), Chris Terry (AHL), Riley Nash (Boston), and Eric Staal (Minnesota) are among the players who did not return up front. Their replacements? Lee Stempniak, Viktor Stalberg, Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen, Bryan Bickell, and Martin Frk. No matter how you look at that, it is an upgrade. And the team’s forwards got a hell of a lot better this summer.

The forwards may be good, but the Canes defense may be even better. Last year, the story of the team was the rookies on defense. Of the three, 2015 5th overall pick Noah Hanifin was the only one on the opening night roster. But when injuries hit the Hurricanes, Slavin and Pesce came up and impressed. You can argue that Jaccob Slavin was the MVP of the second half for the Hurricanes. This year’s lone rookie on the opening night roster is McKeown. With his size, McKeown will look to impress in his first NHL season. And if somebody ends up getting hurt, players such as Hadyn Fleury and Trevor Carrick are in Charlotte waiting for their opportunities.

Projected defensive pairs:

Slavin-Faulk

Hanifin-Pesce

Hainsey-McKeown

Nakladal

Dahlbeck

Murphy (Injured Reserve)

If the young defense can keep improving, the team will have a very good season. But, if they experience a sophomore slump and struggle, the team could be in for a rough season. But there are plenty of options on the blueline, and the team finally has a good defense, led by Justin Faulk. Faulk has a world class shot and has a shot to break records. Put him on the powerplay, feed him the puck, and watch his one time slapshots hit the back of the net, over and over again. Well, that’s at least how it went last year.

The X-factor of this Hurricanes team will be it’s goaltending. Last year, the team was plagued by bad goalie play until December. Then, both goalies got hot and played very well down the stretch. I think if Eddie Lack gets to play the game that HE is comfortable with, he can take over and claim the net. And if Cam Ward can stay healthy and play at the same level he finished at last season, the team could have two very good goalies. With an improved team in front of them, I think they will have a much easier time. I think both goalies will be solid, no matter who is the starter. But I’d guess that Cam Ward gets the nod to start out.

Predictions

Now I will go through and give my predictions on the Canes players stats. Why would I try to guess that? Well, why not? And these are definitely going to be a tad on the generous side.

Forwards:

Jeff Skinner: 30 goals-25 assists-55 points

Joakim Nordstrom: 13 goals-18 assists- 31 points

Sebastian Aho: 21 goals-20 assists-41 points

Martin Frk: 8 goals-10 assists-18 points

Victor Rask: 24 goals-34 assists-58 points

Jordan Staal: 19 goals-30 assists-49 points

Elias Lindholm: 17 goals-35 assists-52 points

Andrej Nestrasil: 10 goals-15 assists-25 points

Lee Stempniak: 20 goals-20 assists-40 points

Phil Di Giuseppe: 13 goals-12 assists-25 points

Teuvo Teravainen: 23 goals-26 assists-49 points

Viktor Stalberg: 11 goals-10 assists-21 points

Jay McClement: 3 goals-6 assists-9 points

Bryan Bickell: 7 goals-5 assists-12 points

Defense:

Jaccob Slavin: 8 goals-24 assists-32 points

Noah Hanifin: 12 goals-30 assists-42 points

Ron Hainsey: 4 goals-16 assists-20 points

Justin Faulk: 25 goals-32 goals-57 points

Brett Pesce: 10 goals-13 assists-23 points

Roland McKeown: 2 goals-12 assists-14 points

Ryan Murphy: 7 goals-11 assists-18 points

Klas Dahlbeck: 1 goal-3 assists-4 points

Jakub Nakladal: 2 goals-7 assists-9 points

Goaltenders:

Cam Ward: 2.96 Goals Against Average, .912 Save Percentage

Eddie Lack: 3.01 Goals Against Average, .904 Save Percentage

Team Leaders:

Goals:

  1. Jeff Skinner 30
  2. Justin Faulk 25
  3. Victor Rask 24
  4. Teuvo Teravainen 23
  5. Sebastian Aho 21

Assists:

  1. Elias Lindholm 35
  2. Victor Rask 34
  3. Justin Faulk 32
  4. Noah Hanifin 30
  5. Jordan Staal 30

Points:

  1. Victor Rask 58
  2. Justin Faulk 57
  3. Jeff Skinner 55
  4. Elias Lindholm 52
  5. Teuvo Teravainen 50
  6. Jordan Staal 50

Team MVP: Victor Rask

Awards:

Calder Memorial Trophy:

  1. Auston Matthews
  2. Matt Murray
  3. Sebastian Aho

Just missed the cut: Patrik Laine, Mitch Marner, Dylan Strome, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Zach Werenski

Matt Murray will look to become the second player to win a Stanley Cup before winning the Calder trophy. Auston Matthews is the clear cut winner, but a number of guys will give him a run for his money.

Selke Trophy:

  1. Patrice Bergeron
  2. Anze Kopitar
  3. Jordan Staal

Just missed the cut: Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, Brad Marchand, Sean Couturier

Hart Memorial Trophy (MVP):

  1. Jamie Benn
  2. Carey Price
  3. Patrick Kane

Just missed the cut: Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, John Tavares, Johnny Gadreau

Jack Adams Award (Top coach):

  1. Bill Peters, Carolina Hurricanes
  2. Joel Quenniville, Chicago Blackhawks
  3. Peter Laviolette, Nashville Predators

Just missed the cut: Mike Sullivan (Pittsburgh), Bruce Boudreau (Minnesota), Jon Cooper (Tampa Bay), Barry Trotz (Washington), Mike Babcock (Toronto), and Dave Hakstol (Philadelphia).

Metropolitan Division prediction:

  1. Washington Capitals
  2. Pittsburgh Penguins
  3. Carolina Hurricanes
  4. New York Rangers (WC)
  5. Philadelphia Flyers
  6. New Jersey Devils
  7. Columbus Blue Jackets
  8. New York Islanders

And the winner of the Nolan Patrick sweepstakes are the…………….. Vancouver Canucks.

The NHL season gets underway tommorow night, and the Carolina Hurricanes are in action on Thursday night in Winnipeg.

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