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Camp Q’s: Who will the Hurricanes’ leaders be?

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Who will take over the leadership roles with Justin Williams gone?

Jamie Kellner

Ever since Justin Williams announced he would be stepping away from hockey this season, one major question has been floating around for the Carolina Hurricanes: Who will replace his leadership?

Williams was the epitome of a true leader, from formulating the Storm Surges to his infamous “poop sandwich” line. Williams was the leader the Hurricanes had needed since Rod Brind’Amour retired, and now he’s out of the picture after just one season as the captain.

So now what?

At first the question was simple: should the Hurricanes name a captain, or just go with multiple alternate captains as the team has done in years past? Then the news broke this week that Carolina has a deal framework in place with the Ducks to trade Justin Faulk. As of this article there has been no movement on this deal and it appears to lie completely in Faulk’s lap if he will waive his NTC.

So with both Williams and potentially Faulk not on the team this season, who will the Hurricanes turn to for leadership on such a young team? Let’s examine the top five candidates to wear a letter this season for the Canes.

Jamie Kellner

Jordan Staal

No matter what Rod Brind’ Amour chooses to do with the letter situation, the one sure fire bet to be involved is Jordan Staal. Having worn a letter since his arrival in Carolina, Staal will most certainly continue to be at least an alternate captain, if not the sole captain of the team.

Staal’s resume speaks for itself with nearly 900 career regular season NHL games, 88 postseason games, a Stanley Cup, the second oldest player on the roster behind James Reimer, and the fact that he has already kinda been a captain in the NHL puts #11 in prime position to take over as the captain of the Hurricanes.

While Staal himself has been critical of the co-captaincy that he shared with Faulk two seasons ago, he certainly learned from that experience along with watching how Williams led the team last year. Signed for another four seasons, Staal could be the perfect candidate to hold down the captaincy spot until a younger player like Sebastian Aho is ready to take it over.

Jamie Kellner

Justin Faulk

Until something officially happens otherwise, you have to assume Justin Faulk will be a Hurricane this season. If he is, he will surely wear a letter once again as he has for the past four seasons. The other half of the Co-Captain situation, Faulk has been a mainstay in Raleigh, having played all eight seasons of his career as a Hurricane.

While he has worn a C at one point, it is much less likely that Faulk would be named captain over Staal. With all the trade speculation and his contract set to expire after the season, Faulk makes much more sense to continue as an alternate rather than take the leap to captain.

From a leadership perspective, the young core of the Hurricanes could greatly benefit from having Faulk’s veteran presence in the room. If he was to leave it would be a big blow to the Hurricanes on-ice product as well as their locker room.

Jamie Kellner

Sebastian Aho

From boy to man, Caniacs have had the joy of watching Sebastian Aho evolve from a quiet young Finnish prospect to a budding superstar over the past three years. That is exactly why Aho got a massive raise this off season and was heavily desired by other teams in the RFA market.

The quasi-normal thing to do in the NHL nowadays is to hand the captain position to your young superstar player in hopes he can grow with it and be the leader for a long time to come. The trend started with players like Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, and Jonathan Toews, and now continues with players such as Gabriel Landeskog, Connor McDavid, and Jack Eichel. The earlier wave worked out great, as Crosby, Ovechkin and Toews have all captained their teams to Stanley Cups and multiple playoff runs. But the new wave of young captains has not worked out nearly as well, with many struggling to even get their teams to the playoffs.

So the major question for Rod Brind’Amour this offseason is: do you hand the all important C to Aho and let him grow with it? Many had hoped Aho could learn from Williams at least one more year but that option was taken away. Having never worn even an A, it’s hard to see a guy like Brind’Amour, who knows first hand how impactful the C can be, giving it to Aho. But one should expect him to get an A this season which will allow him to adjust to wearing a letter and the responsibilities that come with it. Should the team not name a captain this year, it would set Aho up to potentially take over that role next year.

Jamie Kellner

Jaccob Slavin

Much like Aho, Hurricanes fans have watched Jaccob Slavin evolve from a young prospect to elite player in the past few seasons. Possibly the most underrated defenseman in the NHL, Slavin is much more mature than most 25 year olds, and wore an A last season when Jordan Staal was out.

Slavin makes perfect sense to step in as an alternate captain, especially if Faulk is traded away. Ideally you would like a player from the defensive core to be represented in the leadership group, and Slavin is no doubt the number one guy on the back end.

It also helps Slavin’s case that he signed an extremely team-friendly extension last summer, meaning he will be in Raleigh until 2025. A leadership core of Staal, Aho, and Slavin is easy to see for quite the foreseeable future.

Jamie Kellner

Jordan Martinook

Ever the class clown, Jordan Martinook is the biggest wild card in the leadership questions. After being traded to Carolina last year, “Marty” became an instant fan favorite and go to guy in the locker room. Throughout the playoffs Martinook would frequently post updates on Twitter from the Hurricanes page to help pump up the fans and this off season he has been spotted at Durham Bulls games and helping introduce the new Storm Brew.

Martinook is what many call a “glue guy” and it’s obvious by how he handles himself on and off the ice. Brind’Amour loves these types of guys which is exactly why the team went out and signed Ryan Dzingel, who is supposed to be another glue guy.

Could Brind’Amour elevate the lovable Martinook all the way to the C? It may not be as far-fetched as many may think. There are many qualities shared between Marty and Williams in terms of how they control a locker room. The vocal leadership is something that is not nearly as obvious in any of the other candidates and could be exactly what the Hurricanes need to replace Williams.

While it is very unusual to take someone from no letter and make them captain, Brind’Amour has already done it once. He saw the effect that putting the wrong guys in charge had two years ago, and quickly fixed that last year by elevating Williams from no letter to captain.

No matter if he gets a letter or not, expect Martinook to be an extremely integral part of the leadership for the Hurricanes. One also has to think that should the Storm Surges return for this season, Marty Party would be the perfect creator and organizer going forward.

Who Do You Think It Should Be?

If Justin Faulk returns surely he and Staal will be the two mainstays in the leadership group. The two main questions become, do you name a captain and who gets the third letter? Will it be the young superstar Aho? Could Jaccob Slavin or Jordan Martinook sneak in and grab a letter? Would Brind’Amour throw everyone a curve ball once again and pick a captain who has never worn a letter before? Only time will tell us these answers for sure.

But for now we want to know what you think. Who should be the leaders for the Carolina Hurricanes this season?


Who should the Canes’ next captain be?

This poll is closed

  • 30%
    Jordan Staal
    (232 votes)
  • 0%
    Justin Faulk
    (2 votes)
  • 6%
    Sebastian Aho
    (52 votes)
  • 20%
    Jaccob Slavin
    (157 votes)
  • 31%
    Jordan Martinook
    (234 votes)
  • 9%
    None - the team should only name alternate captains this season
    (75 votes)
752 votes total Vote Now