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Goals At A Premium In Carolina

The Hurricanes finished 27th in the league in scoring last season. How many goals can we project for this year?

Justin Faulk celebrates a goal for the Carolina Hurricanes
Justin Faulk celebrates a goal for the Carolina Hurricanes
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Carolina Hurricanes finished with 71 points last season, putting them in last place in the Metropolitan Division and fifth from last in the league.  While the team improved on the defensive side of the ice and only allowed an average of 27.3 shots on goal per game, (good for 3rd best in the league), they were woeful on the offensive side of the ice and only scored a total of 188 goals, placing them at 27th in the league in that department.

Much has been made about the club's low scoring last season and the fact that many of the star players were hurt.  Jordan Staal missed half the season because of a broken leg.  Eric Staal started out with a "core injury" and battled other things during the season.  Jeff Skinner suffered a concussion in preseason and never seemed to get his legs under him.

Each of these important players had sub-par seasons and need to rebound this year.  Will they be able to put the bad memories and mojo behind them and get back to what they are capable of doing?

Even if they do score what they have averaged in the past, will it be enough?

Last season, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Montreal Canadiens were the lowest scoring Eastern Conference playoff teams.  Each of them scored a total of 221 goals in the regular season.

If we project what each of the current roster players do for next year, can they reach that level?

Last Career 2015-16
Season Average projection
(82 games)
Eric Staal 23 30 28
Jeff Skinner 18 28 25
Elias Lindholm 17 15 22
Victor Rask 11 11 15
Chris Terry 11 14 15
Nathan Gerbe 10 13 12
Riley Nash 8 10 11
Jay McClement 7 9 9
Brad Malone 7 8 8
Andrej Nestrasil 7 11 14
Jordan Staal 6 20 17
Zach Boychuk 3 8 8
128 167 184
Justin Faulk 15 10 15
John-Michael Liles 2 9 4
Ron Hainsey 2 4 2
Michal Jordan 2 2 3
James Wisniewski 8 8 8
Ryan Murphy 4 6 6
33 39 38
Totals 161 206 222

In the chart above, I am showing what each current roster player scored last year, what their career average is, and what I am projecting for next season.

In some cases my projections were conservative, in other cases not so much.

First of all with the captain, much is determined upon his health.  Can he stay relatively healthy this season?  It was really a bummer last year when he got hurt with his core injury before training camp even started.

Totaling up all of his numbers, he averages 30 goals per 82 game season.  Will he reach his average next season?  I predict that he will not, but if he stays healthy I think 28 goals is a good possibility.

Skinner has averaged scoring 28 goals per season in his short career.  I am predicting 25 for him, slightly below his average but above last year's disappointing total.

Lindholm scored 17 last season and should be trending up as he gains more confidence and experience.  I have him notching 22.

Rask should be also trending up.  After scoring 11 last year, I think 15 is certainly doable, if not more.

Terry scored 11 goals in 57 games last season but has averaged 14 per 82 game stretch.  If he plays an entire season, I have him at 15 goals which is slightly below last season's pace.

Gerbe was a more consistent scorer earlier in his career and has an overall average of 13 goals per 82 games.  After he scored 10 last season, I will project 12 for him, somewhat in the middle of both numbers.

Nash started out like a ball of fire last year and led the team in scoring until he was injured.  His average over an 82 game period comes out to 10 goals and I think he will be on a slight up-tick with some improvement.  I have him scoring 11.  Last season he scored eight in 68 games.

McClement has averaged nine goals a season in his career and was below that last season.  He seemed a bit snack-bitten at times and hit a few posts.  I am projecting he will get his average and score nine again.

Malone has an 82 game average of eight goals so I am sticking with that.

Nestrasil is another young player who should be trending up and improving.  His 82 game average is 11 so I am projecting him to get 14 next season.

The new enigma, Jordan Staal, has never scored his per season career average of 20 goals while in Carolina, so I am projecting 17 for him.  That is a nice increase from last year's 82 game equivalent of 10, but below his overall average, so it should not be a stretch.  He hit a few posts himself last season and is due for some better luck.

The next roster spot is an open one but I am inserting Zach Boychuk for now.  He has an NHL career average of eight goals per 82 games and I am sticking with that if he plays an entire season with the big club, (or if another player takes this place).

Last season was a break-out one offensively for Justin Faulk.  He could very well improve on his numbers but I am going to project those same 15 goals that he notched last season.

John-Michael Liles actually has averaged nine goals a season throughout his career.  I will project four for next season.

Hainsey is not known for his offense so I will project a repeat of last season's two goals.

Michal Jordan scored two last year in reduced time, I will project a modest three for him, (or for whomever is in this position, be it Fleury or Hanifin or whomever.)

James Wisniewski has averaged eight goals a season in his career and scored eight last year.  Let's stick with that same number.

Ryan Murphy had four goals last season but averages six per every 82 games played.  Again, I will give him six, considering a full 82 game season.

Of course, each of my roster players will not be there a full 82 games.  But if you plug in another player, say Brendan Woods or Brock McGinn for Boychuk, the numbers should not be too far off.

Looking at the chart and totaling up all the projected goals, which I think are fairly realistic if not somewhat conservative in some areas, the total number is 222.

As the Canadiens and Penguins proved last season, that is good enough to get you into the playoffs.

Am I off with my estimates?  What do you think?

(late added disclaimer:  all of this depends upon said players staying healthy all season long.....)