Even with the new pieces in place, the Hurricanes do have the tough task of trying to win games in the Metropolitan Division, the hardest division to do so for teams not based in Washington, Pittsburgh or Columbus. The Hurricanes were only four wins out of a wild card spot, which isn't an easy feat, but the tenacity of this group was certainly apparent and one of the reasons why Justin Williams went back this off-season.
The youth movement is certainly going in the right direction for the Hurricanes, as they already have a bunch of pool worthy players that are 25 years old or younger, but we have yet to see someone really make that leap to being an elite scorer. Maybe that isn't the direction the Hurricanes are going in, maybe it is a better scoring by committee feel, but you could ask a lot of teams, they would probably want that one player to count on, night in and night out, and then just have that committee, just in case.
|Trevor Van Riemsdyk||D||20||N|
|Phillip Di Giuseppe||F||10||N|
Table last updated on August 6th
Most Intriguing or Breakout Player
The expectations are really getting ramped up for this Hurricanes blueline and a brand new, long-term contract extension for Jaccob Slavin is a big reason why.
The 23-year old signed a contract extension, which will kick in in the 2019 season and after putting up back-to-back pool worthy seasons from the Hurricanes blueline, last year picking up 34 points in 82 games, what's next?
Carolina has yet to be really taken seriously and I think that's both a benefit and what could crush this team in the end. If the Hurricanes breakout, Slavin should find himself with a bucket of points, but once teams figure this Hurricanes team out, then we'll really see what he's made of.
First Round Picks
Still no emerging stars from this team or should I say, no opening round picks, at the very least. The team has lots of scoring potential, but the wealth is spread like a thick layer of peanut butter.
Other Pool Worthy Forwards
Right now, I think there are eight forwards that could figure into the top 200 in forward scoring and this is one of the big reasons why this team could break out this year. Jeff Skinner, Elias Lindholm, Victor Rask, Jordan Staal, Teuvo Teravainen, Justin Williams, Sebastian Aho and Lee Stempniak all have shown worthiness already in the past and should help pave the way for Julien Gauthier and Derek Ryan, who are on the cusp for me as well.
Other Pool Worthy Defense
The Hurricanes have been a factory of defensemen in the last couple of seasons and the trend should continue in 2018. Our intriguing/breakout player, Slavin, should get ample help from the likes of Justin Faulk, Noah Hanifin, Brett Pesce and newcomer Trevor Van Riemsdyk. This looks like it will be a productive group of guys, only the more reason to get excited.
In goal, the Hurricanes made the move to pull Scott Darling out of the fire sale in Chicago and give him the contract that implies that he will be the number one goalie this season. He could be on a short leash though, because the team was able to keep Cam Ward around and the seasoned veteran has shown that he isn't quite done yet. I have the split fairly even at the moment, but training camp will certainly adjust those numbers, so keep an eye out there.
Team To Pick From Late?
There are 15 Hurricane players on the list as being potentially pool worthy and if most of these guys hit, they could be bringing some extra talent with them. I would look to the forward group for a few extra gambles here and there, but there should still be some of that worthy talent kicking around in the late rounds. Who picks Carolina? Seriously?
Unsigned Players and Salary Cap
The Hurricanes still have a couple of restricted free agents left on their books to take care of, forwards Sergei Tolchinsky and Valentin Zykov, neither have much for pool value today, but they could offer some mid-season value, if someone goes down, once signed, of course.
The Hurricanes are still a budget team and this is probably the biggest reason why they don't have much in the way of elite scorers. Even with their projected roster set the way I have it, they're still looking at $17.9 million in unused space, just standing above the cap floor.
It looks like the Hurricanes have had no outstanding injury issues through the off-season, so they should be good to go, come training camp. That's pretty good news for this club.