The “Bunch of Jerks” Hurricanes still have a ton of faces currently on the team, but the identity has changed. Carolina has actually spent above the salary cap this year, negating a common criticism of ownership. The Hurricanes made some huge moves, but they still managed to be forgotten in a big offseason. The fact that they have both Brent Burns and Max Pacioretty feels like it hasn’t been talked about enough. Sure, Burns is not his old self and Pacioretty is injured, but both are difference-makers. The main issue for the franchise lately has been postseason play. The Metropolitan Division is always tough, but this year’s team will be judged on how the year ends.
Offseason additions: D Brent Burns, F Max Pacioretty, F Paul Stastny, F Ondrej Kase, D Dylan Coghlan, F Ryan Dzingel, F Lane Pederson.
Offseason subtractions: F Vincent Trocheck, D Tony DeAngelo, F Nino Niederreiter, D Ian Cole, F Steven Lorentz, D Brendan Smith, F Max Domi.
The Hurricanes lost a top-two forward on the team by xGF% and GF% last year in… Nino Niederreiter. He dominated on a third-line role that needs to be filled. The answer not being Sebastian Aho is a bit of a surprise, but Aho was still near the top. He also led the team in points by 12, with 81 in 79 games. He scored 37 goals, one off his career-high. Both Aho and Teuvo Teravainen were actually in the middle of the team in goals for percentage. Teravainen is often receiving Byng votes, although he took 12 minor penalties and was not nominated for the first time since 2016-17. His 43 assists were one behind Aho for second on the squad. Looking to spread the wealth, Carolina promoted rookie Seth Jarvis to the top line. He was only thirteenth in Calder voting, but Jarvis scored 17 goals with 23 assists for 40 points in 68 games. The line could get even better when Max Pacioretty returns in February from a torn Achilles.
The emergence of Jarvis allowed the team to move Andrei Svechnikov, whose 69 points were second on the team, down to the second-line. At age 21, he scored 30 goals for the first time, and was 25th in the NHL in shots. In all four of his NHL seasons, Svechnikov has over 100 hits. He was one of ten players with 30 goals and 100 hits last season. With Vincent Trocheck off to New York, the Hurricanes opted for the cheaper option in veteran Paul Stastny. Spending his last two seasons in Winnipeg, Stastny was not a bad second-line center. He scored 21 goals with 45 points in 71 games last year. The player who obviously needs to step up his game is Martin Necas, who was the only Hurricane with an xGF% under 50 last year. Necas had 41 points in 53 games in 2020-21, but scored 14 goals with just 40 points in 78 games last year, going backwards.
While Niederreiter is gone, his linemates still remain. Jesper Fast edged him out by 0.06 percent for the team lead in xGF%, at 59.37. Fast scored a career-high 14 goals and 34 points while playing in 82 games for the first time. In his tenth year as a Hurricane, Jordan Staal scored 17 goals, his most since 2017-18. He received Selke votes for the seventh consecutive season, and 14th time overall. Staal was on the ice for just over two goals per 60 minutes. Carolina infamously offer-sheeted Jesperi Kotkaniemi last offseason, but played him on a fourth-line role. They have a good opportunity to move him up the lineup. He scored 12 goals with 29 points in 66 games last season. Kotkaniemi is yet to match the 34 points that he had as a 18-year-old rookie.
The Hurricanes will bank on the high upside of Ondrej Kase, who once again struggled with injuries, appearing in just 50 games for the Maple Leafs. In his first semi-full season since 2019-20, Kase did score 14 goals with 13 assists, for a pace of 23 goals and 44 points over 82 games. The problem is that Kase has never played in over 66 games in a season. Jordan Martinook hasn’t come close yet to the 15 goals that he had in his first year as a Hurricane, with a diminished role and injuries affecting his production. Martinook scored six times with nine assists in 59 games last year. Former top-six center Derek Stepan is back on a professional tryout. With Pacioretty out, it would be a surprise to see Stepan not get a contract with the team. He had 19 points in 58 games in 2021-22, while his 2.17 xGA/60 was the best on the club. The Canes brought in Lane Pederson as a part of the Burns trade. He really struggled with San Jose last year, with a team-worst 36.3 xGF% and just two assists in 29 games. Ryan Dzingel is back with the team after he recorded 33 points in 75 games with the team in 2019-20 and 2020-21. He spent last season with the Coyotes and Sharks, scoring five goals with three assists in 32 games.
Burns feels like a weird fit with the Canes, but that could be said about any team that isn’t the Sharks. While his 29-goal 2016-17 season is far behind him, Burns can still produce. He scored 10 goals with 44 assists in 82 games last year, and was one of two San Jose defenders with a GF% over 50. Even at age 37, durability isn’t a huge concern with Burns. He has not missed a game since the 2013-14 season. He is the real successor to Dougie Hamilton, and any defensive shortcomings that he has can be covered up by Jaccob Slavin. The 28-year-old led the Canes’ defense with a 57.7 xGF% and also had a 62 GF% while adding 42 points to the mix, a career-high. Slavin finished second in Lady Byng voting a year after winning it, while also being top-ten in Norris votes.
The entirety of the Hurricanes’ defense core had good underlying numbers, although of the six regular defenders, their second-pair were the bottom-two in xGF%. Already entering his eighth NHL season, Brett Peace scored seven goals with 21 assists. Brady Skjei’s nine goals where second on the team’s defensive core behind only the departed Tony DeAngelo.
There were chatters this offseason that Carolina could move Ethan Bear, just one year after acquiring him from Edmonton. Instead, they signed Bear to a one-year deal, keeping him as a restricted free agent next year. The Hurricanes have four right-handed defenders and two left-handed ones, so Bear could be the one who is forced to play on his off-side. That would be opposite Dylan Coghlan, who came from Vegas as a sweetener for taking on Pacioretty’s contract. In his first full-season, Coghlan had 13 points in a very sheltered 59 games. The seventh defenseman is slated to be Jalen Chatfield, who had three assists in 16 games last season. In 44 regular season AHL games, he had 18 points, then recorded eight in 18 playoff matches.
The questionable decision to move on from surprise rookie goalie Alex Nedeljkovic and instead sign two-injury riddled goalies worked out well in the regular season, before they both got hurt by game seven of the second-round. Frederik Andersen was a revelation in net, finishing behind only Igor Shesterkin in goals saved above expected, with 28.5. In 52 games, he had a 2.17 GAA and a .922 save percentage, while finishing fourth in Vezina voting. The duo of Andersen and Antti Raanta split the Jennings Trophy, as Raanta added a .912 save percentage and 2.45 GAA. Raanta was spectacular in the playoffs, with a .922 save percentage in 13 starts.
Teuvo Teravainen – Sebastian Aho – Seth Jarvis
Andrei Svechnikov – Paul Stastny – Martin Necas
Jesperi Kotkaniemi – Jordan Staal – Jesper Fast
Jordan Martinook – Derek Stepan – Ondrej Kase
Scratched: Ryan Dzingel, Lane Pederson
Jaccob Slavin – Brent Burns
Brady Skjei – Brett Pesce
Ethan Bear – Dylan Coghlan
Scratched: Jalen Chatfield