Sitting at 3-0-1, the Carolina Hurricanes are at the top of the NHL standings in what has been the best regular season start in franchise history. With the departure of longtime leading goal scorer Jeff Skinner and top six forward Elias Lindholm, the narrative surrounding this team coming into the season was a lack of proven offensive producers in the lineup. Through the first four games, the club has dispelled this dramatically, sitting at second in the NHL in both total goals scored as well as goals scored per games played.
A lot of this offense has been fueled by new acquisitions, particularly ones that weren’t considered blockbuster. Micheal Ferland has been an invaluable third member on the Sebastian Aho/Teuvo Teravainen line, and Jordan Martinook has been a surprising offensive force on the “fourth line”.
Also rounding up that so called fourth line is Andrei Svechnikov, who has picked up two goals in as many games as he looks to be settling into the NHL. And perhaps the most surprising and exciting newcomer to this team, Warren Foegele, has put up three goals in just four games this October.
We’re just four games into an 82 game marathon, so it’s a bit early to take metrics very seriously, especially given that the Hurricanes have really only played one team thus far that was expected to be a playoff contender at the beginning of the season. But nonetheless, here’s what’s stuck out about some of the new guys thus far and maybe a little bit of what to expect from the long season ahead.
After a big win last night, Sebastian Aho was asked about a goal that he scored off of an incredible pass from Michael Ferland.
Aho responded by praising his linemate, saying, “I think he’s way more skilled than people think he is.”
Honestly, Ferland’s five points (2g, 3a) here through the first four games shouldn’t come as much of a surprise given his career path thus far. Drafted in 2010, the 26-year-old winger’s point production has been on a steady increase since his first full season in 2015-16. Pundits insist that Ferland’s play was carried by the likes of Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan in Calgary, but I’d argue that the Finns he’s playing alongside here in Raleigh are just as good — if not better.
Ferland’s hot start may indicate a continuation of that gradual increase in offensive production that Calgary enjoyed over the past few years. Or maybe he’s just enjoying some puck luck and the points will slow down soon. But one things certain, he’s definitely more skilled than people think he is.
The Jordan Martinook trade was a somewhat under-the-radar acquisition at the draft last year, but so far this October it’s looked like one of the best. Martinook has looked great playing alongside Lucas Wallmark and Andrei Svechnikov, banking three points (2g, 1a) so far this season. Looking back at his career to date with the Coyotes, Martinook looks to have established his “ceiling” at about 25 points, which he hit in the 2016-17 season before regressing a bit last year. The 2012 second round pick looks like he’s found his niche here in Raleigh as a physical player with deceptive speed who can put up secondary points. With a hot offensive start, Martinook could have the potential to enjoy a career year.
Svechnikov’s season has been an exciting one thus far, as he’s gotten into the habit of scoring goals a lot quicker than most of us would have expected from an 18-year-old. Through the first few games something that’s stuck out to me the most about this exciting young player is his knack for being in the right place at the right time. Both of his tallies thus far were real goal scorer’s goals, indicitive of the potential for a long and lucrative career in the league. We don’t have much to go off in terms of what to expect from him in the future, but if production from prior 2nd-overall picks is any indication, a 36-goal rookie season like Patrik Laine would be just fine with me.
I really can’t say enough good things about Foegele and his play thus far. Coming into camp last month, Foegele was far from a shoo-in to stay in Raleigh. An impressive camp and preseason afforded him a spot on the opening night roster, and if he continues his exceptional play in every area of the game, he’s ensuring himself a spot on the club in the long term.
The young forward has earned high praise from Jordan Staal, who likened him to “a moose” in the locker room last night, as well as Rod Brind’Amour, who has twice referred to Foegele as, “everything we want in a Hurricane.”
Three goals and an assist thus far makes him a point per game player this season. But his offense will most likely wane in the coming months given that he’s outpacing his production in the AHL, where he put up 46 points (28g, 16a) in 73 games. As long as Foegele continues to work hard an utilize his high hockey IQ, he’ll remain in the good graces of his head coach and teammates alike, and the offense will certainly come naturally.