Why you (or the NHL) shouldn’t be sleeping on the Hurricanes

As you probably know already, the Hurricanes were projected to finish last place in the 2005–2006 NHL regular season. Well, they went on to win the Stanley Cup that season. People slept on the Canes back then, and people are sleeping on the Canes as we speak. If you ask me, or really anybody who watched Hurricanes games last season, it is illogical to say this Hurricanes team will be a bottom feeder. While reading various tweets, Facebook comments, and standings predictions, a good portion of the hockey world expects Carolina to be on the bottom of the standings. That just doesn’t make sense. Here’s why:

What’s the real reason the thought of the Canes being a bottom feeder makes no sense? Well, it has been reported that the Canes have offered forward Raffi Torres a PTO (Professional Tryout). You really don’t need any more reasons. End of story.

For those of you who didn’t slam your computer shut, I thank you for having a sense of humor. In all seriousness, there is no risk in the Torres PTO for Carolina. But let’s talk about the REAL reasons you shouldn’t sleep on the Canes:

Forward depth

For the first time in a while, the Hurricanes have good depth among their forwards. Nathan Gerbe, Brad Malone, Chris Terry, and Riley Nash have all signed elsewhere. Who replaced them? That would be Lee Stempniak, Viktor Stalberg, Teuvo Teravainen, and Bryan Bickell. Oh, and Finnish sensation Sebastian Aho. As of now, the Canes lines look something like this:

Skinner-Rask-Stempniak

Nordstrom-Staal-Nestrasil*

Aho-Teravainen-Lindholm

Stalberg-McClement-Bickell

*currently injured

However the lines play out, the Canes will have scoring on each of the top three lines. The team arguably has two second lines, one third line, and one fourth line. The new additions to the forward group could also push Phil Di Giuseppe to a reserve/AHL role. Is there really a spot for him? If the lines do end up similar to this, it is likely that the following forwards among others play in the AHL this season:

-Phil Di Giuseppe

-Brock McGinn

-Derek Ryan

-Brody Sutter

-Patrick Brown

-Sergey Tolchinsky

That’s good size, speed, and scoring ability in the AHL ready to make the leap. The Hurricanes haven’t had this much depth up front in a while, and it will definitely be a positive as the team looks to push for the playoffs.

The defense

The strongest part of this Carolina Hurricanes team is their defense. Jaccob Slavin, Noah Hanifin, and Brett Pesce all impressed in their first NHL seasons. Slavin and Pesce were very pleasant surprises, and they form a very good top four for the Canes along with Justin Faulk. Slavin and Faulk should be the top pairing, Pesce and Hanifin should make up the second pairing, and Ryan Murphy and Ron Hainsey look to be the bottom pair. If Hanifin, Pesce, and Slavin avoid the sophomore slump, star Justin Faulk stays healthy, and Ryan Murphy plays decently, there is no reason for the Hurricanes to be on the outside yet again in the playoffs.

The Dynamic Duo

When using the term “dynamic duo,” you would usually think of a Sidney Crosby-Evgeni Malkin, or a Tyler Seguin-Jamie Benn. With the Hurricanes, I think of General Manager Ron Francis and Head Coach Bill Peters. Let’s start with the bench boss. Bill Peters has built a strong system here in Carolina, making the Canes a tough team to play against each and every night. Bill Peters brings a certain type of swagger to the Canes. I feel that players are now more responsible, smart, and exciting than ever. You would’ve thought that after losing Eric Staal, John-Michael Liles, and Kris Versteeg would mean the end of the road for the Canes. Nope. The team remained competitive throughout the adversity. Bill Peters has built a strong system here, but he couldn’t have done it without GM Ron Francis. Because of Ronnie Franchise, the Hurricanes now have not only a competitive NHL roster, but one of the strongest prospect groups in the NHL. ESPN Insider Corey Pronman ranked the Canes’ farm system the 5th best in the league, and ranked six Hurricanes’ prospects in the top 100 (eight in the top 120). He’s done a lot of good for this franchise.

The Carolina Hurricanes should not be slept on this upcoming season. Exciting youth, solid veterans, and a strong system are here now, and the team should be pushing for a playoff spot. Outsiders may not believe it, but the Canes are good, and Caniacs are excited. The present, along with the future, is very, very bright in Carolina.

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