The Carolina Hurricanes wrapped up a banner preseason (is that a thing?) this weekend, finishing at 5-0-1. While preseason results are often mostly meaningless, the Canes played very well in the exhibition schedule, and showed onlookers a good bit about this new-look team in the process. Here are some key takeaways from 2018’s training camp.
Youth will be served: The Canes’ opening night lineup features no less than five rookies, all forwards: Andrei Svechnikov, Martin Necas, Valentin Zykov, Warren Foegele and Lucas Wallmark.
Foegele had a huge camp (more on that in a second) to earn a spot, Zykov continued to show his power-play abilities and Wallmark gets a crack at filling in for Victor Rask at center.
Svechnikov and Necas are probably the two most important players on this roster that aren’t goalies. In order to get where they want to be this season, the Canes need at least 20-25 goals from Svechnikov, and top-six center production from Necas.
The Brind’Amour way: So many things already look different with the Canes’ long-time captain behind the bench. Every practice is an up-tempo grind. Post-game pressers are honest and blunt.
Most importantly; however, everything is earned. Ice time is earned. Roster spots are earned. There’s no better example of that than Foegele. He played his heart out in camp, putting up a goal and seven points and showing what he can do on the penalty kill. Foegele refused to be left off the team, and earned his spot over more expensive veterans. The Carolina Hurricanes are now truly a meritocracy.
Darling is different: Darling getting hurt in the last game of the preseason is a brutal break for a player who worked his tail off to get where he is now. Darling’s offseason training regimen showed, and he looked like a different goalie in the preseason. Darling put up a .938 save percentage in three games.
Fortunately, his lower-body injury is not catastrophic and will only keep him out a couple weeks. The Canes will hope he doesn’t miss a beat from the preseason.
Right call at captain: They were a year late, but the Canes finally have the right man wearing the C. Justin Williams is a natural leader, and a perfect fit for a young team. His demeanor as captain, and the reactions of all of his teammates show this was a good decision. It may have been a foregone conclusion that Williams would be Brind’Amour’s first captain, but it was still the perfect choice.
Canes serve the community: This has absolutely nothing to do with what happened on the ice, but I want to commend the Hurricanes for everything they did to help the victims of Hurricane Florence. Between the relief drive, selling discounted lower level tickets with proceeds going to the state’s disaster relief fund and hosting first responders on opening night. This state is my home, and it was great to see the folks at 1400 Edwards Mill Road step up to help the affected communities. Well done.