Monday, August 25, 2014

2015 Pool Projections: Carolina

The Carolina Hurricanes haven't made the playoffs since the 2009 season and the team goes into the 2015 season with no extra hope of doing so again. Rather, the Hurricanes may have themselves a solid lottery shot at Connor McDavid, thanks to what could be a winning drought of a season.

I think there are some areas where the Hurricanes may improve in the 2015 season, like the Staal brothers bouncing back from a sub-par year, but the team has some real concerns about their netminding, as their number one is considered to be trade bait and there are question marks about the organizational depth beyond number one.

The off-season in Carolina didn't really help the team very much, but with such a prized possession becoming available at the Entry Draft next Summer, the year could be an exercise in patience for fans of the team and lowered expectations for poolies, drawing from their talent pool.  I can't see anyone blowing the doors off of the RBC Arena in Raleigh, so I would be looking at some of the team's better players to supplant players on better teams, rather than making Hurricane players into cornerstones of my fantasy team.

With how memorable the off-season was for Carolina (it wasn't), there could be a number of fellow poolies who have forgotten about some players and they may fall through the cracks into some real bargain spots.  That's where you could make some money this year.

Forwards 14/15 Proj Cap Hit Defense 14/15 Proj Cap Hit Goaltenders 14/15 Proj Cap Hit
Eric Staal 70 8.250 Andrej Sekera 35 2.750 Cam Ward 45 6.300
Jeff Skinner 65 5.725 Justin Faulk 30 4.833 Anton Khudobin 25 2.250
Jordan Staal 50 6.000 Ryan Murphy 25 0.863
Alex Semin 45 7.000 John-Michael Liles 20 3.875
Jiri Tlusty 35 2.950 Ron Hainsey 15 2.667
Nathan Gerbe 30 1.750 Jay Harrison 15 1.500
Elias Lindholm 30 0.925 Tim Gleason 5 1.200
Riley Nash 25 0.575
Patrick Dwyer 20 0.900
Jay McClement 15 1.000
TOTAL 62.263
Brad Malone 10 0.650 Brett Bellemore 5 0.600
Chris Terry 5 0.600
Zach Boychuk 5 0.600

First Round Picks

Remember when Eric Staal was a 1st round pick-type player?  No, I'm not saying that because he will be this year, but I just thought I would reminisce.  No, I can't see any Hurricanes players being worthy of a 1st round pick, especially since there will be some other favourites who may have fallen out of my projections, but will still end up being a high priority for some.  Staal and company will have likely fallen well out of favour by the end of September.

Most Intriguing or Breakout Player

Goaltending in Carolina will be a hot-button topic, especially under the guise of trying not to throw the season, although they very well might.  Since Cam Ward is on his way out of town, by way of the trade rumours, Anton Khudobin becomes an intriguing player on the hockey pool list.  Will Khudobin end up being the number one guy in Carolina?  Right now, I can't see anyone making a play for Ward on the trade market, there just doesn't seem to be a spot for him anywhere, until an injury rears its ugly head.  That makes Khudobin's role so much more interesting, whether or not he is platooned or even takes over as number one.  Do you gamble on him earlier than most other back-ups?  The answer may be yes.

Other Pool Worthy Forwards

This season could see a healthy sprinkle of Hurricanes forwards through the draft, as the Staal boys will get their due through the early-to-mid rounds of the draft, while Jeff Skinner will be plopped in between the two in all likelihood.  Someone is bound to gamble on Alex Semin at some point through the draft, but without a great deal of help, it should be in a lower round than most years.  I don't see any concentration of players this season, but the Canes could still play a role in a winning team, if picked appropriately.

Other Pool Worthy Defense

There isn't anything elite about the Carolina defense going into this season, but the emergence of Andrej Sekera does add some intrigue to their line-up on paper.  Sekera should figure into the draft at a good spot, but don't overpay on his hype, by any means.  Justin Faulk and sophomore Ryan Murphy should be good back end picks, if needed, for your blueline.

Goaltending Situation

The situation has already been touched upon already and as much as Khudobin is my most intriguing player on the Hurricanes this season, I have to think that as long as Ward is in town, he will get the bulk of the minutes.  Carolina will not be able to move Ward in a deal, especially when the season starts, if he isn't playing.  This is where your judgement comes in on draft day, as to whether or not you pick either one or neither for your pool team.  My best guess is posted, assuming that Ward stays the whole year.

Team To Pick From Late?

There could be a couple decent late season gambles on this Hurricanes team, but I don't see them competing very well, so I wouldn't imagine that the team's depth will be very helpful this year.  There will be better players on more competitive teams available late, so I would move towards them.

Unsigned Players and Salary Cap

Salary CapIf the Hurricanes were not going to spend big money in the off-season to really bolster their line-up when the market was good, there is little chance that they would do it now, when the talent pool has dried up considerably.  With the $6.7 million left they have in cap space, I would imagine that they would fill the remaining four roster spots on their projected line-up with their youth, giving them minutes.

The team doesn't have any more free agents to sign on their books, so they may just run with what they have this year.


The injury-prone scoring winger, Alex Semin, has had some reports of a slowly healing wrist injury, which was surgically repaired in the off-season.  The reports surfaced at the beginning of August and may contribute to a lesser season for the Hurricanes.  Definitely something to keep an eye on this year.

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