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State of the Position: Wingers

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The Carolina Hurricanes made some offseason moves to improve their forward group, bolstering their bottom six while retaining the entirety of the talent-laden top-six.

Chicago Blackhawks v Carolina Hurricanes Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images

The Carolina Hurricanes have a solid group heading into the 2021-22 season, with one of the strongest areas of their team being their forward group.

While the offseason saw an exodus of a few wingers, the Canes kept their talented top six together and will be leaning on a few of them to take another big step forward.

The team also went out and bolstered its bottom six and forward depth with more veteran presence.

So within the forward group, let’s take a look at the winger position:

Left Wings

Andrei Svechnikov

Last Season Stats: 15 goals, 42 points in 55 games

JFresh Hockey

Fresh off his eight-year, $62-million extension, Svechnikov is going to have a lot to live up to in the coming years, but the Russian phenom should be more than up for the challenge.

Outside of being an electric goal scorer, Svechnikov has developed his skillset as a playmaker to already be one of Carolina’s best.

Last season was a down year for him in terms of finishing, but Svechnikov’s ability to drive play and create opportunities for his line mates helped to wash out those struggles.

Andrei Svechnikov playmaking microstats.
Corey Sznajder

On the verge of taking another step as a player, Svechnikov still has a few areas he needs to see an improvement in this season to take those steps towards stardom.

His play in his own zone needs a bit of tuning but most importantly he needs to work on his penalty differential. It’s no secret that Svechnikov hasn’t gotten totally fair treatment from officiating, but the biggest thing he needs to keep in check is the stick infractions which are avoidable most of the time without sacrificing physicality.

It should be another exciting year for Svechnikov as he continues to develop as one of the premier players in the league.

Nino Niederreiter

Last Season Stats: 20 goals, 34 points in 56 games

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Niederreiter had a career-best goal scoring pace last season and would have set a new career high if not for the shortened season.

On top of being an efficient sniper, Niederreiter is also an excellent play driver and forechecker as well as a defensively responsible player. He’s a full package winger able to play anywhere in the lineup in a myriad of roles.

Despite a noticeable pattern of high scoring followed by a bit of regression every other season, Niederreiter brings enough intangibles and positive impact to counteract most of that.

He could see a shift between the third line and second line depending on the strategy the Canes employ each game.

Jesperi Kotkaniemi

Last Season Stats: 5 goals, 20 points in 56 games

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The newest Hurricane is going to be a bit of a project and he’s going to have go through some growing pains before he is back on the right track.

But despite that, Kotkaniemi is a defensively responsible forward who is great in transition play and cycling the puck. His biggest issues have been his lack of offensive generation, but he just needs to regain confidence in himself to reestablish that ability he has shown in flashes.

There are a few potential landing spots for him in the lineup.

Josh Leivo

Last Season Stats: 6 goals, 9 points in 38 games

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The Canes went out and bolstered their bottom-six with some more veteran presence and one of those players they brought in was Leivo.

Leivo is a serviceable fourth liner who has had fairly strong metrics in most areas. He isn’t going to blow you away with his skill, but he’s an honest player who plays hard and has had some scoring success.

He has the potential to play up in the lineup if need be, which is an important aspect to have in your bottom six.

Stefan Noesen

Last Season Stats: 0 goals, 0 points in 6 games

Noesen hasn’t been an NHL regular since the 2017-18 season where he set a career best in goals and points with the New Jersey Devils, but he provides depth to the Hurricanes’ roster.

Right Wings

Teuvo Teravainen

Last Season Stats: 5 goals, 15 points in 21 games

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It was a tough season for Teravainen who battled both a bout with COVID-19 as well as brutal post-concussion symptoms that kept him out for the majority of the year.

When he’s on his game and healthy, Teravainen is one of the most integral pieces of the entire Carolina team with both his elite vision and passing, as well as being a great defensive forward.

He doesn’t get the praise he warrants around the league, but Teravainen is one of the best all-around players in the NHL. Effective in all three zones and on both special team assignments, Teravainen does it all and should see a huge bounce back season on the top line.

Martin Necas

Last Season Stats: 14 goals, 41 points in 53 games

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The natural talent of Necas was on full display last season as the Czech winger earned in-season promotions to both the Hurricanes’ top line and first power play unit and he also took on a new role playing on the penalty kill.

Necas’ skating is out of this world, having both high-end speed and smooth edgework, which allows him to be a dominant force both in transition and in the offensive zone.

He’s seen his playmaking and shooting skills develop to keep up with the speed of his skating and if he can keep building that up, he’ll be a nearly unstoppable force.

At just 22, Necas still has some developmental areas to iron out, such as his defense (as is the case for most young, offensive stars) and his ability to win puck battles, but he’s getting stronger each season and should see that come together more and more.

With Trocheck nearing the end of his contract, there is also the question of if the team will eventually try Necas at center — which is his natural position — but the team is probably looking for him to take another step either defensively or in terms of offensive play driving before they make any sort of move.

Jesper Fast

Last Season Stats: 6 goals, 19 points in 46 games

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Jesper Fast is a defense-first forward who is very good at what he does. Playing alongside the Canes’ shutdown center, Jordan Staal, Fast formed a strong duo with the captain and can continue to keep up his strong defensive game.

He won’t bring much offensively, but he knows his roles and brings a lot of intangibles to the ice. It’s a lot of the time a thankless job, but the importance of his impact can’t be overstated.

Jordan Martinook

Last Season Stats: 4 goals, 13 points in 44 games

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The Canes’ vocal leader, Martinook signed a three-year extension to remain in Carolina. A PK and defensive specialist who brings physicality and accountability to the lineup, Martinook plays an old style of game, but one that is crucial to the overall effectiveness of any team.

He’s seen a steady regression over the past two seasons, but that has roughly correlated to multiple injuries and surgeries that he has gone through in that time period.

There is still hope for a bit of a bounce back for Martinook if he can remain healthy throughout the season.

Steven Lorentz

Last Season Stats: 2 goals, 8 points in 45 games

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Lorentz has fought and earned his way all the way from being a seventh-round pick, to working his way from the ECHL up to the AHL and finally to breaking into the NHL last season.

The Canes have brought in a few veterans to bolster the bottom-six, which may see Lorentz’s playing time drop, but he would be the first callup in the case of injuries and even still he still may earn a spot out of camp.

Regardless, the outcome won’t bother Lorentz, who will just keep smiling and working hard to do whatever he can to help the team whether he’s playing or not.