The Carolina Hurricanes enter the season with mild expectations. Fans are well aware that the Hurricanes are nowhere near teams such as the Tampa Bay Lightning, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Washington Capitals, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t going to compete. The team is young and looking for a progressive season. Here are a few predictions for the Hurricanes from across the web.
Hockey News paints a bleak picture, giving the Hurricanes a 9.1% chance of making the playoffs, predicting the Hurricanes finish with only 81 points, good for 7th in the Metro division and 27th in the NHL. They pose three questions for the Canes entering this season: Can the defense keep it together? Does Cam Ward have anything left? Who will step up at center?
Dominik Luszczyszyn writes, “From a statistical perspective, the Carolina Hurricanes are a very interesting team. Last season, they finished 11th in the score-and-venue adjusted Corsi with a mark of 51.4 percent, and 29th in PDO at 98.2. Some people are optimistic about Carolina’s chances because of those numbers. The first suggests they do a good job at controlling play, a genuine sign of talent and potential future success, while the second suggests they were a but unlucky in converting that territorial advantage into results.
“It’ll take time for this team to become one of the East’s best, but they’re on the right path. This year looks to be another difficult one unless the goaltending situation gets figured out, or the team solves it’s scoring woes. They’ve got a solid process down, it’s time to turn it into results.”
ESPN has high expectations for the offense, with Teuvo Teravainen joining Victor Rask and Jeff Skinner. The outlet is hopeful that the Hurricanes can be in the playoff picture late in the season. Scott Burnside writes, “There's so much uncertainty at the bottom end of the Eastern Conference standings that you can make a case for most, if not all, of the division teams that didn't make the playoffs to bounce back and sneak into one of the final few postseason spots this season. Carolina is one of those teams. Third in the Metropolitan Division.”
CSN Atlantic also believes the Hurricanes can fight for a playoff spot, which would be a huge accomplishment since the franchise hasn’t made the postseason since 2009. J.J. Regan writes, “Considering what Carolina was able to do last season with obvious flaws and a young team, the playoffs are not entirely out of the question for this season. Another year for the young core on offense should do wonders and I like the additions the team made in the offseason.
“Peters has established himself as a good coach and he has the Hurricanes moving in the right direction. The only problem is the division. Still, a wild card spot is not out of the question and it would come probably a year before anyone really anticipated this team had a shot at reaching the postseason.”
Many people believe the Hurricanes will show improvement this season, but it may not be enough for a playoff appearance. TSN sums it up perfectly by writing, “The NHL’s youngest defense corps will push the Carolina Hurricanes tantalizingly close to their first playoff appearance since 2009. They’ll fall just short. Carolina’s seven blueliners have an average age of just 24.5, including four players (Ryan Murphy, Brett Pesce, Noah Hanifin and Jaccob Slavin) who are 23 or younger. The issue is geography: There are no cupcakes ahead of Carolina in the Metropolitan division.”
Looking at the landscape of the Metropolitan Division in the East, it’s hard to imagine the Hurricanes competing with the Penguins and Capitals for the division crown. The Rangers and Islanders may look better on paper, but there’s no reason why Hurricanes fans should see them as vastly superior to them. Could none of this come together and they could find themselves in the cellar once again? Of course, but there’s plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the season. Be prepared for a continuously improving season that will include a race for a playoff spot.