The Hurricanes were the 26th ranked team in the league standings last year and they would need a huge boost from their best players to improve upon that. The Staal brothers need to be better, Cam Ward has to be a guy that Carolina leans on to play everyday and their defense needs to move the puck with a little more urgency.
On the plus side, Carolina has tinkered with their projected lineup, adding some help on the back end, both on the blueline and in the crease, which should go a long ways to pushing this team forward.
Last season, there was a lot of hope that the Staal brothers would bounce back from a rough 2014 season, so back-to-back rough seasons don't give a lot of hope to their projections, but if the Hurricanes can get their youth to jump up and play a big game, then they can certainly make up for the lack of production or even boost the spirits of those Staal boys and make the Hurricanes into a better team this year.
Table last updated on August 15th
Most Intriguing or Breakout Player
It's year number three for Hurricanes forward Elias Lindholm and he could be poised for a breakout year in Carolina. The Hurricanes are looking for some more consistent scoring in their lineup and the 20-year old Swede is coming around at just the right time for this club. His projection of 50 points is based on a couple of very good years so far, including a 21-point rookie campaign and then a 39-point sophomore season. If he continues up this natural progression, a 50-point year doesn't seem too far out of reach.
Of course, he'll need some support from the team around him and if it all comes together, you might be able to snag Lindholm in a bargain spot.
First Round Picks
Not a lot of hope for any opening round picks out of the Carolina organization. Their best players have not shown a lot in recent years, keeping the confidence down among all the poolies. If there was ever any return to form, they would certainly make for some bargain picks in the rounds afterwards.
Other Pool Worthy Forwards
Another young name should make an appearance in the pool draft this year, as Viktor Rask had a pretty good year in Carolina last year, drumming up 33 points in 80 games, and with the lack of focus on the Hurricanes organization, he could quietly have a good sophomore year, much like Lindholm did before him. It would be good to see the regulars, Eric Staal, Jeff Skinner and Jordan Staal, have good years, but I wouldn't get carried away with their potential production.
Nathan Gerbe and Riley Nash would work as fringe players, but certainly more candidates for the Waiver Draft, more than the actual draft at the beginning of October.
Other Pool Worthy Defense
The scoring from the defense could be one of the stronger suits for the Hurricanes in the 2016 season, with the acquisition of James Wisniewski to help out Justin Faulk. The youth movement along the blueline will also be headlined by Ryan Murphy, who is going into his third full season in the NHL. This trio could be a very good option in the hockey pool this year, especially if the forwards are able to finally score some more goals. All three should be able to move the puck to spring the forwards into the offensive zone.
The acquisition of Eddie Lack from the Canucks changed the face of the crease, as Anton Khudobin was shipped off to Anaheim, because of the move. Lack, who played a great deal of games in the later part of the season, is going to be there to push Cam Ward back into number one minutes or possibly take them for himself. For now, I figure that the two will have a pretty reasonable split of time, as one pushes the other and Ward is the favourite, right now, for the most minutes.
Possible Entries Into the Rookie Race
The Hurricanes have roster spots to give, heading into this preseason, so I think there is going to be somewhat of a rookie presence on this team. The early suggestions are Sergei Tolchinsky, who dazzled at the prospects camp and their top pick in June's draft, Noah Hanifin, who might look to break in, much like Aaron Ekblad did in Florida. I think both of these guys are going to be worthy of your consideration at the draft.
Team To Pick From Late?
I don't think Carolina is the team that comes to mind, when thinking about players late on in the draft. You may look to Carolina, as a team that provides depth players, because they have more available near the end of the draft, but they are not quite the team that jumps out at you. If you're looking for a rookie to keep yourself in that race at the end of the draft, perhaps look here, but otherwise, if you're looking for reputation scoring, there are better options than the Hurricanes.
Unsigned Players and Salary Cap
Free agency isn't an issue for the Hurricanes, as they have all their kids signed up and they did so before the calendar flipped over to August. A few unrestricted free agents were let go and the team is in the clear for training camp.
The team has a few buyouts on the books for this season, but that's nothing for a team that remains much closer to the salary cap floor. Keeping the rookies off the books, as they haven't made the lineup quite yet, I have the Hurricanes in with 18 players, with three buyouts, at $57 million, leaving over $14 million in space for the rest of the year. I don't see the Canes making use of that money, but it's there at the very least.