Last season – 10th in the Eastern Conference
The Hurricanes are still in their rebuild phase. There is a lot of young players on the team, and after moving on from Eric Staal, they have put this turnaround phase in full mode. Last season they finished “best among the worst” in the Eastern Conference.
It’s doubtful that they will manage to hold on to that 10th spot this season, but I think we will see some players taking steps this season.
GM – Ron Francis
Ron Francis is entering his third season as the GM of the Carolina Hurricanes. He has been doing a good job with a franchise that looked completely dead a few years ago. Funny enough the firing of Rutherford were good for both him, the Hurricanes, the Penguins and Francis.
The process of creating a whole new team is continuing taking steps. The Canes have added lots of complimentary players offensively, and continue giving chances to young d-men.
His biggest challenge this season is to get a firm grip of who will be among the core center line going forward.
Head Coach – Bill Peters
Bill Peters is also heading into his third season with the Hurricanes. He’s been great with the youth movement, as he has experience with on lower levels before. His toughest challenge of the year might be to really develop some offensive-gifted NHL caliber forwards who can put up more points for them on the board.
He’s already doing a good job working the defense, who will only continue to improve over the coming seasons. Even though they ended fairly high last season, don’t expect another 85+ points season this year.
Teuvo Teravainen (C), Bryan Bickell (LW), Lee Stempniak (RW), Viktor Stalberg (LW), Martin Frk (RW), Jakub Nakladal (D), Klas Dahlbeck (D), Connor Brickley (C), Matt Tennyson (D)
James Wisniewski (D – bought out), Brody Sutter (C),
2nd round pick 2016, 3rd round pick 2017
Carolina re-signed Cam Ward, Joakim Nordstrom, Ryan Murphy and Victor Rask. They traded for Teuvo Teravainen and Bryan Bickell from a cap troubled Blackhawks. They signed Lee Stempniak, Viktor Stalberg, Jakub Nakladal and Matt Tennyson from free agency. They bought out James Wisniewski, and they picked up Martin Frk and Klas Dahlbeck on waivers.
Out from the roster has a couple of picks, Riley Nash, Nathan Gerbe and Brad Malone gone after not being re-signed. Which means, Ron Francis and the Hurricanes have been somewhat busy. It also means that they look better on paper.
Goaltending – 7/10
Their goaltending duo is solid. Lack is a good backup who are sniffing on a starting job, and Ward has been better the last few seasons. But, they aren’t quite up there with the best.
Defense – 6/10
The defense is young and is did quite well behind an inexperienced group of forwards last season. They will continue to develop and are among the best young defensive groups in the league. They still got some seasoning to go to be a real force in the league, but their starting point is solid. Possibly could have gotten a higher grade, but they still need to perform over a longer period to earn that grade.
Slavin – Faulk
Hanifin – Pesce
Murphy – Hainsey
Dahlbeck – Nakladal
(H. Fleury – McKeown)
Forwards – 5/10
Francis has added several complimentary players to their young core of forwards, and in addition have added more youth over the last year. Offensively they have plenty to go on, and it’s a bit uncertain in terms of how much development they can achieve and how much they will achieve. The grade is average until they prove they can put up more points.
Nordstrom – J. Staal – Nestrasil
Skinner – V. Rask – Stempniak
Aho – Lindholm – Teravainen
Bickell – McClement – Stalberg
Team Composition – 4/10
In terms of being able to compete for playoffs and championships, the composition isn’t that great yet. The goalies are good, the defense is too young at the moment and they lack distinct goal scorers and power forwards offensively. Could they get there with more moves over the next few years? Possibly. Are they there yet? No.
Leadership presence – 6/10
Hainsey, Ward, Staal, Stempniak and possibly McClement. There isn’t really a whole lot, but there are some with championship experience. However, I have a hard time seeing this group as a group that will lead the Hurricanes to the playoffs. In terms of the development phase however, it’s probably solid enough
Skill Value – 6/10
Their best and most interesting future skill wise is among their young d-group. Offensively there is some raw skill, but it’s too early to tell if they can get things together or if they need to do things differently in Carolina.