Coach: Bill Peters
Record and Standing: 36-31-15, Finished 7th in the Metropolitan Division
-Trevor Van Riemsdyk
-Jaccob Slavin (extension)
It appears that the Canes have addressed their two biggest issues this offseason, those being goaltending and leadership; all while locking up younger players for the future. Justin Williams, aka Mr. Game 7, is surely beneficial to have on any team but especially a younger team to be in a leadership role. The 35-year-old is a 3x Stanley Cup Winner, with one coming in 2006 with the Hurrianes. Adding leadership to their young forward core in hopes to be more competitive in the dominate Metro division, while still lacking a true first line center. The addition of goaltender Scott Darling could be the difference maker for the young Canes team. Similar to what Cam Talbot did in New York; now Edmonton’s starter, Darling, is getting his chance to be a starting goalie in the NHL after carrying the Blackhawks for a stint when Corey Crawford struggled briefly this past season and in previous playoff series. A healthy Jeff Skinner could make all the difference for this young Canes team. A proven top winger in the NHL when healthy, Skinner is someone who Carolina will look towards to lead them offensively. Sebastian Aho is another forward to keep on your radar in Carolina. Aho posted 49 points in his rookie season, and I fully expect him to be around the 50 point mark again this year. The young D core in Carolina could be something to watch out for as well. Loaded on the backend with talent led by Justin Faulk, it appears on paper they have one of the youngest and most offensively talented D cores in the league with the likes of Noah Hanifin, Jaccob Slavin, and rookie Haydn Fleury.
I expect the Hurricanes to be in a similar spot this upcoming season as they were last year. In the 2016-17 season they finished with 87 points, and probably should have made the playoffs, but because the Metro division is so dominating they were left out. The possible addition of a true first line center (I.E. Matt Duchene) would change my opinion, but I see the Canes missing the playoffs for the ninth season in a row. They are close, very close, but the Metro is such a powerhouse with teams like Pittsburgh, The New York Rangers, Philadelphia, and even Columbus. Ideally, Canes fans would like to see both Skinner, and Aho with 50+ points each, but I predict that Aho will hover around the 40-point mark. As far as Skinner, it is hit or miss. If healthy, he could net 50+ easily as proven last year. I think a healthy Skinner will produce around the 65-point mark for the Canes as they push for a playoff spot.