A late season push helped the Carolina Hurricanes finish with 87 points in 2016-17, but they still finished 7th in a tough Metropolitan division, missing the playoffs. Rookie Sebastian Aho, Jeff Skinner and their young defensive core all had a good season, but goaltending woes hurt them. To improve their team, GM Ron Francis made some moves. Let\’s look at what the hall-of-famer did.
Notable additions: RW Justin Williams, G Scottt Darling, D Trevor van Riemsdyk, C Marcus Kruger, C Josh Jooris.
Notable subtractions: G Eddie Lack, F Bryan Bickell, D Ryan Murphy.
Here are my projected forward lines.
Jeff Skinner – Jordan Staal – Justin Williams
Teuvo Teravainen – Victor Rask – Sebastian Aho
Phillip Di Giuseppe – Elias Lindholm – Lee Stempniak
Joakim Nordstrom – Marcus Kruger – Derek Ryan.
The first line is three solid vets. The kid line second line should really work. I like the idea of Lindholm running his own line, and Stempniak is a nice wing to have. Nordstrom and Kruger were teammates in Chicago, and the Canes are hoping that chemistry works out. Josh Jooris and Brock McGinn are the two extra forwards.
Here are my projected defensive pairs.
Noah Hanifin – Justin Faulk
Jaccob Slavin – Brett Pesce
Klas Dahlbeck – Trevor van Riemsdyk
Hanifin, at 20 years of age, gets to play with a their best defenseman, Faulk. Pesce and Slavin are solid top-4 defensemen. van Riemsdyk and Dahlbeck are a solid third pair.
Darling is finally getting the chance to start. Ward isn\’t a starter anymore, but he can be a solid mentor and backup to Darling.
Though they wildly improved in the offseason, I think that the Hurricanes will compete for the wild card in 2017-18, but just miss out on the playoff action.