The Carolina Hurricanes traded Eric Staal to the New York Rangers on February 28, 2016. Since then, the Canes have had no captain, and have been in no hurry to name one.
The time is coming, though. The Canes are just over a week away from naming their sixth captain, and there are no shortage of candidates. Two weeks ago at media day, Bill Peters asked a roundtable of four media members who they would select as captain, and three different names - Jeff Skinner, Jaccob Slavin and Justin Williams - were tossed out.
Aside from an apparent requirement that the next captain’s first name starts with J (throw Jordan Staal and Justin Faulk in there too, if you want), Peters’ question revealed the lengthy conversations the Canes’ brain trust has had regarding who will lead the team next season.
Members of the Canes Country staff have their own thoughts on who should be named captain, and we’d love your input too. Vote in our poll and give your own thoughts in the comments!
Brian LeBlanc: Jaccob Slavin
Sure, it might be a little off the board to pick a guy who didn’t wear a letter last season when there are four players who did and would make fine candidates on their own. But the Hurricanes committed a whole lot of money and years to Slavin this offseason, and he’s very much a lead-by-example player in the mold of another former Canes captain who now runs the team as its general manager.
To be sure, this isn’t to compare Slavin to Ron Francis as a player. But the two have similar qualities. Slavin never takes a shift off. Just being caught out of position is rare enough for him that it merits mentioning. He rarely takes penalties; in fact, Haydn Fleury’s 17 minutes of penalties on Wednesday night were just three away from Slavin’s career total. He just completed his first full season and is already receiving votes for the Norris Trophy.
Also, both Slavin and Francis finished tenth in Calder Trophy voting their first seasons in the league. If that isn’t an omen, what is?
Slavin wouldn’t be a fiery captain in the mold of a Rod Brind’Amour. But what he would be is a quiet leader who lets his play do the talking. The Hurricanes are one of the youngest teams in the NHL, so why not reward the leadership qualities of one of that young cadre and give the C to Slavin? He’ll be here for years to come, he will grow into the role, and he’s already highly respected. If the Canes are truly looking years down the road, Slavin is as solid a captain pick as they come.
Justin Lape: Jeff Skinner
Looking for a Canes captain? Look no further than 5'11" and full of smiles Jeff Skinner. Skinner brings a lot to the table as a possible captain candidate but one trait particularly stands out: endurance.
Skinner has endured a lot heading into his eighth season as a member of the Hurricanes. He's experienced a few highs, such as winning the Calder Trophy and being named to the All-Star Team in his home rink in 2010-11 and having three 30-goal seasons to his resume. But the most appealing part of Skinner is he has been able to withstand and bounce back.
Skinner has suffered multiple concussions in his career and was able to improve his point totals steadily in the seasons since. He has endured many trade rumors, including the outrageous Rick Nash for Skinner plus picks deal. Most importantly, he's endured seven playoff-less seasons. Skinner understands the team around him, is a leader in the locker room and deserves the "C" on his chest heading into the 2017-18 season.
Jake Crouse: Jordan Staal
I'm not usually one to promote family control of a position, but in the case of the Hurricanes’ captaincy, I guess I'm apt to do so with the Staals.
While not a player of his brother's caliber in terms of point production, nor even Jeff Skinner, Jordan is a consistent force for the Hurricanes. He's recognized as a face of the franchise already, and his output is good enough to deem him a foreseeable starter for Carolina.
Even more, this is a man who turned down the same exact ten-year extension the Penguins offered him to join the Hurricanes. What higher praise could he show? What greater love is there? He could have had two more Stanley Cups in
Cary Pittsburgh, but his blood bleedeth...well, red.
If you're one for having that steady rock as your captain, who better to put in the position than a proven leader for the Hurricanes that's signed through 2023? Give this man a C!
Cody Hagan: Jeff Skinner
From the moment Jeff Skinner first arrived in Raleigh he has been an overwhelming fan favorite. He started off as a scoring machine with boundless energy. But throughout his seven years here he has transformed to the older (but still only 25 years old!) veteran in a group of young blood.
Skinner has become the go to guy when it comes to setting up practices and is always the most vocal guy wearing the red and black. That is exactly what you need in a captain. His age is also a major plus as he is still young enough to gel with the young core of the team, yet old enough and experienced enough to demand respect in the locker room. Whether it is chewing out a teammate for a bad play or maturely discussing with a ref why a penalty was called a certain way, not to mention being sixth in the entire league in goals last year, Jeff Skinner has shown he has what it takes to wear the C.
It is time to move on from family ties and move forward with the true face of the franchise as the captain. Here’s to #53 hopefully donning the C in 2017-2018 and for many years to come!
Andrew Ahr: Jordan Staal
Naming the captain of this young Hurricanes team is a difficult task -- especially coming off of a season with four alternates. We're in for an exciting and somewhat unpredictable season with all the new variables in play. Many fans would call for the captaincy on a top goal scorer or a newly acquired veteran, but why give it to a player who is largely unproven in a leadership role here in Raleigh?
The captaincy should not be another unpredictable variable in this pivotal season. It is a role that needs to be filled by an established, consistent presence in the room and on the ice. Most of all, the captain needs to be able to deliver.
The correct choice for captain this year is Jordan Staal. As you know, another Staal wore the C on his chest for nearly seven (mostly) bad years before being traded at the deadline two seasons ago, and for this reason his brother isn't exactly an exciting choice.
I understand that. But I do believe this is the best choice. Jordan Staal is a leader. He is a consistent leaderin possession statistics and has proven himself as an elite shutdown center. Furthermore, he has been top-three in points per game played since the 2014-15 season. Finally, he has worn an A and has led all Hurricanes forwards in time on ice since his arrival in 2012.
Staal has been a constant presence in Carolina and has demonstrated that he can deliver under the burden of leadership. He is a proven, veteran anchor on this young team, and I believe he deserves to lead the Hurricanes this season with a C on his chest.
Andy House: Justin Williams
When looking for a captain, teams can take very different approaches. Some have handed the task over to their most talented and exceptional player, regardless of his age or even his ability to lead (see Connor McDavid, Alex Ovechkin). Other teams award the role to one of the more veteran members of their squad, even if they are not expected to carry the lion's share of the performance burden on a night to night basis (see Andy Greene, Derek MacKenzie).
For the Hurricanes, Justin Williams represents a wonderful middle ground to the different schools of thought. While Williams is now re-joining the organization, his "outsider" perspective may be just the type of distance needed to effectively lead this young squad. Justin Williams isn't a long-term choice. But he is the right choice for this team, at this time.
Even before he has played his first game in his return to Carolina he has already asserted himself as a leader, as a captain. All that is left is for Ron Francis and Bill Peters to make it official.
So, who’s your pick to be named the Canes captain?
You make the call: who should the Hurricanes name their captain?
This poll is closed