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Carolina Hurricanes 2018-19 Season Preview: Wingers

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Young talent abounds as the Canes look to add scoring to their lineup.

Jamie Kellner

Our season preview of the 2018-19 Carolina Hurricanes begins today with a look at the Canes’ wingers, who add a jolt with Andrei Svechnikov but still face questions about if their scoring contributions will be enough to propel a historically subpar offensive attack.


The Carolina Hurricanes enter the 2018-19 season with a re-shuffled group of wingers that will also be infused with some exciting youth as they attempt to pull the Canes up from the bottom of the league in terms of goal-scoring. With a nice mix of forwards that have flexibility that allows many players to also man the middle, the Canes will move forward with a number of options to man the wing in Raleigh.

As we run down where the Canes stand, here are seven wingers that most expect to have an important impact on the coming season.


Sebastian Aho

  • Age: 21
  • 2017-18 totals: 78 GP, 29 goals, 36 assists, 65 points
  • Acquired: 2nd round (35th overall) pick, 2015 NHL Draft

While the end of last season as well as the preseason has flirted with Sebastian Aho as a center, due to the growing pains associated with that experiment it appears that Aho could be slotted for the wing again in his third NHL season. By far the most dynamic offensive player returning for the Canes, Aho will look to provide similar growth in his point totals as he did in 2017-18 when he added 16 points from his rookie campaign.

While there has been talk of a possible 100 point season, continued development and appreciation for a player who is on the verge of becoming a bonafide NHL star is the main goal in year three as the young Finn attempts to bolster the Canes offense enough to drive his team to the playoffs for the first time in almost a decade.

Although he was rarely placed on a line with former teammate Jeff Skinner, it will be interesting to see what, if any, impact that trade will have on Aho’s drive to greater offensive numbers. Perhaps playing with more offensive-minded linemates, who were paired with Skinner in the past, could spark a bit more growth in terms of output for the emerging Aho. If the left-handed shot of Aho continues to progress, he will remain the lead offensive piece and his health will be crucial to the Canes hopes to accomplish anything in the 2018-19 season.


Justin Williams

  • Age: 36 (turning 37 on October 4th)
  • 2017-18 totals: 82 GP, 16 goals, 35 assists, 51 points
  • Acquired: Free agent signing, July 1, 2017

After returning to Raleigh last season in what appeared to be a leadership role, only to then be denied a role within the teams leadership, Justin Williams still provided the typical offensive output that has become expected from the veteran winger. As training camp opened this season, Williams was finally handed the Captain’s “C” that many thought should have been his a year ago.

Now entrenched as the leader in the room, Williams will certainly look to exert more influence across the board on this team which is now led behind the bench by former teammate Rod Brind’Amour. As a leader, Williams will be judged in the manner in which most are judged in the NHL and that is in wins and losses.

On the ice however, the ever-steady presence of Williams should only further stabilize a roster that could be featuring as many as nine forwards aged 26 and under on any given night. While his contribution on the ice and knack for dirty, gritty, and timely goals will certainly be an asset, how he performs as the heart of this team will ultimately be what determines if his second go-around in Carolina is a success or not.


Teuvo Teravainen

  • Age: 24
  • 2017-18 totals: 82 GP, 23 goals, 41 assists, 64 points
  • Acquired: Trade with Blackhawks, June 15, 2016

In his second season with Carolina, Teuvo Teravainen provided a glimpse of the player that the Canes hope will continue to blossom into a high-end offensive weapon. Despite close to five years of NHL exposure, Teravainen remains a young and developing piece who has increased his goal-scoring a points output in every season he has played. While the heavy shot he possesses has not produced a 30-goal season to date, that sort of expectation is not something that would seem unrealistic as the Canes and their fans look toward the coming season.

As Teravainen increases his role on the power play, and especially with what the Canes expect to be an increasingly dangerous offensive core, they will certainly expect the experienced Teravainen to continue his progression.

While the still-young Finn has previously settled into more offensive opportunities, his history as a sound two-way player will likely allow the Canes to place him all over the lineup, depending on their needs. While it is not clear who “Turbo” will be working with on a nightly basis currently, he will likely be one of the more experienced guys on the ice, no matter who is is working with. The Canes will certainly expect to see Teravainen take another step forward both in terms of production, as well as responsibility. Though much of last season was a major disappointment in general, the continued progress of Teravainen was a bright point. Hopefully that progress can continue in 2018-19.


Brock McGinn

  • Age: 23
  • 2017-18 totals: 80 GP, 16 goals, 14 assists, 30 points
  • Acquired: 2nd Round (47th overall) pick, 2012

Another of the bright spots that developed in a mostly lost season a year ago, Brock McGinn spent his first full season at the NHL level, and his energy and improving goal-scoring touch will provide him with a chance this season to establish himself as an NHL regular.

While the excitement around the pending arrival of goal-scoring threats such as Andrei Svechnikov, Martin Necas and Valentin Zykov, as well as the continued development of Aho and Teravainen, and lastly the leadership of veterans Jordan Staal and Justin Williams, the forgotten forward may be McGinn. Despite what became an increasingly frustrating and disappointing second half of last season, McGinn was able to provide what may be the best run of hockey he has played over the 158 NHL games in his career. Nine of his 16 total goals came in February and March, and his presence on the penalty kill became one of the factors that stabilized that unit somewhat as the season progressed. What the Canes will look for moving forward is continued offensive development, but not development that might be aided by a move up the lineup to more ice time and perhaps more-skilled teammates. Rather, the Canes will hope for improvement that comes more organically within the role that McGinn has already carved out for himself.

For Carolina to become a contender, it needs third and fourth line players not to be place-holders, but to be impact performers. McGinn will be tasked with doing just that. If he can succeed while staying in that bottom-six role, it will be a terrific sign that the Canes have improved their roster.


Andrei Svechnikov

  • Age: 18
  • 2017-18 totals: N/A
  • Acquired: 1st round (2nd overall) pick, 2018

Now we get to the new arrival that has Canes fans salivating. When the Carolina Hurricanes received their first smiling grin from the Hockey Gods in what felt like years, it came in the form of bouncing ping-pong balls. Against heavy odds, the Canes were able to finagle the 2nd overall pick when they were highly probable to end up with a pick in the low teens.

In doing so, they were able to grab a winger that may consider to be one of the more dynamic goal-scoring wingers to enter the draft in recent years in Andrei Svechnikov. The bonus for Carolina is that the Russian Svechnikov has already made the transition to North America to play junior hockey in Canada for the Barrie Colts, and thus a big portion of any potential culture shock has hopefully been adjusted to.

While his speed and skill has become apparent to anyone who has watched even his preseason exploits to date, the sky-high expectations may need to be tempered. Certainly the left-handed shots talent gives everyone hope that he will be the star breakout talent that the Canes need to make that next leap into the playoffs, but learning to score and develop as a whole player that can function as a successful member of an NHL team is the most important thing that can occur this season.

There will certainly be flashes of brilliance, but growth on both sides of the puck will be the true measuring stick of success for this season. If Svechnikov can gain trust in his own zone from his teammates and coaches, expect more opportunity to see what many believe to be one of the more dynamic rising stars in the offensive zone.


NHL: Preseason-Tampa Bay Lightning at Carolina Hurricanes James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Micheal Ferland

  • Age: 27
  • 2017-18 totals: 77 GP, 21 goals, 20 assists, 41 points
  • Acquired: Via trade from the Calgary Flames on June 23, 2018

A secondary piece on the trade that sent Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindholm to Calgary for Dougie Hamilton, Micheal Ferland brings with him a 20-goal season, and the experience of playing alongside supreme young scoring talent with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan on a regular basis. While many have attributed his offense in Calgary mostly to his association with more-skilled linemates, Ferland had to be doing something correct to continually be placed together with such high-end talent.

Perhaps his experience in Calgary would suit him for a role that includes Martin Necas at center along with another young teammate on right wing? For Ferland, gaining comfort with new teammates will certainly be important as a complimentary player, but his proven ability to acclimate to his linemates should bode well for his role in Carolina.

While another 20-goal season may not necessarily be the benchmark that Ferland can consistently hit, providing a capable presence that can play off the creativity of talented linemates and play a sound two-way game would be a welcome addition as the type of fully-rounded player that the Canes have sorely lack in recent years.


Valentin Zykov

  • Age: 23
  • 2017-18 totals: 10 GP, 3 goals, 4 assists, 7 points
  • Acquired: Via Trade from Los Angeles Kings, February 2016

Yet another of the exciting young talents from the re-stocked Canes system, Valentin Zykov will attempt to stick in Raleigh for the first time out of camp this season. After putting up a tremendous season in the AHL in Charlotte (33 goals, 21 assists, 54 points), Zykov earned a 10-game cameo in the NHL. His immediate impact of 7 points in 10 games was encouraging, but the foundation of the optimism surrounding him is based on his steady improvement made each season since his acquisition from the Kings.

The thick Russian has shown a knack for goal-scoring, and proved last season in Charlotte (and in his cameo last season as well as in this preseason) to have staying power in front of the net. For a team starved for a true net-front presence and nose for the puck in tight quarters, the Canes hope they have the perfect prescription in Zykov. While it may take some time to acclimate to the NHL level, Zykov appears to be the correct piece for the Canes puzzle at this time. Expect Carolina to exhibit patience with the youngster as they insert him into the fold.


Elsewhere

Speaking of the wave of young talent, the Finnish invasion may be set to continue in Carolina as Janne Kuokkanen and Saku Maenalanen are poised to be challengers for roster spots in Carolina, perhaps as early as a surprise out of training camp. Kuokkanen, a 2016 second round pick, did receive a brief four-game look last season, but with only 60 games at the AHL level to date, the Canes would most likely prefer to allow him to gain more seasoning in Charlotte, where he may play both Wing and Center.

Lucas Wallmark has played mostly Center in his minor league career, but with the loss of Victor Rask, both he and Phil Di Giuseppe would appear best positioned to compete for the additional spot in the lineup and on the roster. Both Wallmark and Di Giuseppe have prior experience at the NHL level, but neither has been able to establish himself with a role as of yet. Both would likely be fourth-line players based on their prior history in Raleigh as well as Charlotte.


Scoring Projections (assuming 82 GP)

  • Sebastian Aho: 39 goals, 38 assists, 77 points
  • Justin Williams: 16 goals, 34 assists, 50 points
  • Teuvo Teravainen: 33 goals, 39 assists, 72 points
  • Andrei Svechnikov: 27 goals, 29 assists, 56 points
  • Brock McGinn: 17 goals, 20 assists, 37 points
  • Micheal Ferland: 12 goals, 17 assists, 29 points
  • Valentin Zykov: 17 goals, 11 assists, 28 points
  • Lucas Wallmark: 7 goals, 12 assists, 19 points