"The Hurricanes need help at every position."
"Most likely, the Hurricanes are still a year or two away from being a playoff contender."
"Needless to say, their outlook is bleak."
Next season's official projections have yet to come out for most hockey sites, but as some writers speak about next season and the Carolina Hurricanes in the same breath, it's usually not pretty. And, who can blame them for their critical analysis?
On a club where most of the highest paid players' production is regressing and talk around the league indicates that the team would be better off trading them, or in one case, even buying the player out, it's hard to see much positive.
But their production can't get any worse, right? It has nowhere to go but up....
It's too early to speak much about next season yet but I wanted to share a few links which might be of interest.
Scott Cullen at TSN provided his outlook regarding the Canes and he did some nice research to back up some of his analysis. Here are a few out-takes:
The percentages didn't work out very well for Eric Staal in 2014-2015, as his on-ice shooting percentage (5.5% at 5-on-5) was the lowest of his career and coupled with a drop in ice time - 18:51 per game was his lowest since his rookie season, 2003-2004 - Staal ended up with his lowest points per game (0.70) since his rookie campaign.
Veteran winger Nathan Gerbe plays a reliable two-way game and generates a lot of shots on goal, but is one of the league's worst finishers. That makes him a valuable third-line contributor, but not much more if he can't convert at a higher rate.
It's likely no coincidence that the Hurricanes went from Connor McDavid contenders to respectable once Jordan Staal joined the lineup at the end of December. His scoring touch seems to have disappeared - he's never matched his rookie-season total of 29 goals and had just six in 46 games last season - but Staal's two-way game was outstanding last season.
One top-six forward, one top-four defenceman, depth defencemen, starting goaltender
WHAT I SAID THE HURRICANES NEEDED LAST YEAR
Three forwards, one top four defenceman, depth defencemen
For the most part, good stuff by Cullen in this article. It's hard to argue with much.
Our SBN brethren over at Jewels From The Crown apparently were quite impressed with Andrej Sekera while he was in L. A.. Here is an article by Sheng Peng calling him the Kings best defenseman during his brief stay. Sheng provides the stats to back up his claim.
It seems like the biggest complaint from them is that they would have given up too much, if he does not re-sign there.
Take another look at Sekera's 2012-15 HERO chart above. The one area where he hasn't distinguished himself is suppressing shots. Yet, he topped all NHL blueliners in 5v5 CA60 (39.1) during his 16 LA games (out of 185 defensemen who played 100+ 5v5 minutes). This, of course, contributed to his superb 60.1 CF% (5th in the league in that that stretch).
If he does not sign beforehand, Sekera will have plenty of suitors come July 1, including the Canes. Would he be happier anchoring the Kings' second pairing, or playing first pairing minutes in Carolina?
Our friends over at Dobber Hockey, who are fantasy hockey experts as well as stat providers, have an article up about the Canes and Devils.
Fantasy Outlook: Hurricanes and Devils
Overall, as stated many times the Hurricanes are probably in for another rough campaign in 2015-16. They will land a solid prospect with the fifth-overall draft choice in June but that player is unlikely to make an impact as an 18-year-old. The team is typically not a big spender and already has a few underachieving big cap hits in the Staal brothers, Alexander Semin and Ward among others. They will need several overachievers to emerge simultaneously if they are going to be competitive. The fact that such opportunities exist makes the Hurricanes an important team to watch especially if you are in a deeper league.
There could be a few sleepers on this team but most likely no one you want to anchor your fantasy team with.
Finally, there are a few Canes still playing hockey, albeit in Europe.
Victor Rask and Elias Lindholm are repping Sweden. Of course, Justin Faulk is manning the blueline for Team USA. Michal Jordan is on the Czech team, and Anton Khudobin is playing for Mother Russia.
In case you missed it, Bill Peters was selected as an assistant coach for Team Canada.
Michael Smith has more details in this article:
Rask scored a sweet goal you can see on this .gif file that Matt sent to me:
Some of us were speaking about Evgenii Dadonov here on CC the other day and apparently one of our readers, "justlistenen" asked Michael Smith about him on the twitter.
As PackPride mentioned here, the Russian still has two years on his KHL contract, so it seems like he's not coming to Carolina in the near future. (Although KHL contracts have been broken before.)
Smith also answers questions about Carolina prospects Erik Karlsson and Lucas Wallmark in his most recent "Tweetmail" offering.
(By the way, a little birdie told me that Wallmark is developing nicely. Look for him in camp next season.)