The Carolina Hurricanes haven’t qualified for the post-season in eight consecutive seasons and they’d clearly like to change that in 2017-2018. They took a step toward changing the tide by signing goalie Scott Darling to a four-year contract after acquiring him in a trade with Chicago.
With a clear number one netminder, the Hurricanes turned their attention to other matters. They signed winger Justin Williams and dealt for D-man Trevor van Riemsdyk and centre Marcus Kruger. This is all part of the enduring rebuild in Raleigh, which may or may not bear fruit in the upcoming season.
“We’re comfortable with the changes we made and think it gives us a better chance to accomplish what we want to do and that’s get in the playoffs,” general manager Ron Francis said.
Sebastian Aho may be the most thrilling player on the Hurricanes. The 20-year-old from Rauma had 49 points in 82 games in 2016-2017, which is a pretty sweet haul for a rookie season. He averaged 16:47 of ice time a game and is a great skater. He’s also an energetic dude, even if he doesn’t have what some would call “ideal NHL size.”
Jeff Skinner may be the best player on the Hurricanes. He put together a 37-goal performance in 2016-2017 (seriously) and collected 63 points in 79 games. That ties his rookie season point total. He’s been the linchpin for Carolina’s attack and he’s the key to this club’s young roster, so expect big things from him once more.
Williams will be 36 when the puck drops on the 2017-2018 season, but he’s still capable of putting points on the board. He averaged 50 points a season in his two years with the Capitals and he lit the place up during his prior tenure with the ‘Canes from 2003 to 2009. He had 48 points last season, including 24 goals.
Jordan Staal is the top centre on the Hurricanes. The Thunder Bay native had 45 points in 2016-2017 and is a big guy at 6’4, 220 pounds. He scores vital goals and seems to show up in all the right moments. He’s a resolute player with and without the puck and he averaged 18:39 a game last season. Overlooking him would be, like, bad.
Justin Faulk is one of the most productive scorers at his position in the league. He’s tied for third in goals per game among defencemen and he’s fifth in shots on goal per game over the past three seasons combined. The 25-year-old had 17 goals last season and scored a total of 37 points in 75 games, plus he averaged 23:08 of ice time a game.
The Hurricanes inked Jaccob Slavin to a deal this summer and they have every reason to believe it’ll pay off. The 23-year-old from Denver had 34 points last season, including five goals. He averaged 23:26 of ice time a game in 2016-2017 and can play a shutdown game along. Slavin is capable of providing a little offensive pop and he’s got a slick shot.
The Hurricanes signed defenceman Brett Pesce to a six-year contract extension this summer and solidified another major part of their group. The 22-year-old had 20 points in 82 games last season and has a good frame, plus he can move the biscuit. Pesce averaged 21:12 a game in 2016-2017 and may find himself with more responsibility under the new deal.
Darling is on his way to a gig as an NHL starter and that could mean he’ll face a lot of pressure. The 28-year-old has never played in more than 32 games in a season, but that will change as he becomes the guy in Carolina. The good news is that fans have every reason to be confident in their new netminder. Darling posted stellar totals over the last three seasons and should be more than ready to prove himself.
Cam Ward saw 61 games last season and won 26. He may be in line for a demotion with Darling as the starting goaltender. He may also split the gig – at least at first. The 33-year-old posted a .905 save percentage in 2016-2017 and locked in two shutouts. He is cool under pressure and seems to like facing a lot of shots, but he can also get caught deep in his net.