NHL Preview 2021 – Carolina Hurricanes
Top Blueline but Weak Netminding
The Carolina Hurricanes finished the 2019-2020 season with 81 total points. Their 38-25-5 record was the fourth best record in the Metropolitan Division. It qualified them for the play-in round where they defeated the New York Rangers in three games. In the first round of the playoffs they were beaten by the Boston Bruins. Our Carolina Hurricanes preview 2021 looks at how a strong roster could make a longer playoff run this season.
Carolina Hurricanes Preview 2021 – Forwards
The Hurricanes have one of the deepest forward groups in the NHL including a very stacked top-six forward core. Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen, and Andrei Svechnikov all finished with over 60 points last season. Aho led Carolina with 38 goals and 28 assists. The Finn also had 12 points over the team’s eight playoff games. His compatriot Teravainen was on pace to tie his career high point total that he set in 2018-2019. He has also been defensively responsible, posting the best plus-minus rating out of all of the club’s forwards (+20). Svechnikov was on pace to almost double his point total from his rookie season. Last year the right wing scored 24 goals while adding 37 assists. It shouldn’t be surprising to see Svechnikov score at a point per game pace in 2021.
Vincent Trocheck and Jordan Staal provide depth at the center ice position behind Aho. Trochck had trouble getting going after being acquired from the Florida Panthers, but has the skill to put up around 35 points in the upcoming shortened season. He played a total of 62 games between Florida and Carolina and finished with 38 points, just two of which were with his current club. Staal will be counted on in a more defensive role than Trocheck. He is the team’s top penalty killing forward and will provide a stable presence on the third line. Together with Aho, Trocheck and Staal, Carolina has some of the best depth down the middle of the ice.
Carolina also has some young forwards that had breakout seasons in 2019-2020, and who could ramp up their offensive output even more this year. Warren Foegele and Martin Necas both had at least 30 points last year. The former finished the shortened season with 30 points while the later had 36 in his first full NHL stint. Both could see their point totals increase this season and help give the Hurricanes some solid secondary scoring.
Carolina Hurricanes Preview 2021 – Defense
Carolina also has one of the deeper bluelines in the NHL. Jaccob Slavin and Dougie Hamilton are the biggest stars on the backend, although Brady Skjei and Brett Pesce will also play big roles. While Slavin is the team’s best overall defenseman, Dougie Hamilton is one of the league’s best offensive threats from the blueline. Slavin led the Hurricanes in time on ice averaging 23:24 minutes per game. He registered 36 points and a +30 plus-minus through 68 games. Hamilton was limited to just 47 contests but averaged 0.85 points per game. The 2019-2020 season was arguably the best year of his career thus far. He set a personal high +30 plus-minus while scoring 14 goals and adding 26 assists.
Skjei was acquired from the New York Rangers after spending four seasons in Manhattan. He had a single assist in his seven regular season games with Carolina while logging over 20 minutes of ice time per game. Pesce had 18 points and a +7 plus-minus last season. He finished third in total time on ice playing almost 22 minutes per game. Both Skjei and Pesce will play top four minutes again and give the Hurricanes a very solid second defensive pair.
Carolina’s goaltending tandem will consist of Petr Mrazek and James Reimer. Mrazek started the bulk of contests last season but we could see a more evenly split load in 2021. Mrazek went 21-16-2 in 38 starts while stopping .905 of his shots. He also had a 2.69 goals against average. Both of these numbers trended in the wrong direction compared to in 2018-2019. Reimer on the other hand had a surprisingly solid season after struggling with Florida the year prior. In his 24 starts this past season Reimer had a .914 save percentage and a 2.66 GAA. While neither netminder is likely to have an all-star caliber season, Mrazek and Reimer should provide a solid enough backbone to keep Carolina in most of their games.
Carolina Hurricanes Preview 2021: Outlook
Our Carolina Hurricanes Preview 2021 expects the ‘Canes to be one of the top teams in the Central Division. Not only do they have a deep forward group, their blueline is among the best in the league. The one weaker spot is in net, although Mrazek and Reimer are both serviceable netminders. Look for the Hurricanes to qualify for the 2021 playoffs.
Carolina Hurricanes Preview 2021: Prediction
Record: 28-16-10, 66 points
Finish: 3rd in the Central Division