Carolina Hurricanes 2017-2018 Season Preview
Can Darling in Goal Give Hurricanes Stability?
Last season, the Hurricanes did not make the playoffs. Our Carolina Hurricanes 2017-2018 Season Preview envisions that this season could be different. The Canes have one of the deepest defenses in the league, and they seem to have upgraded their goal situation by signing former Chicago netminder Scott Darling. At the same time, there’s some decent talent upfront. Still, they will need to see some of their offensive players make strides if they are going to contend this season.
This is an offense that has potential. There are, however, some “ifs” involved. Carolina needs center Victor Rask to push through to the next level. At the same time, the addition of Washington Capitals right wing Justin Williams should have a positive impact. The final factors will be Elias Lindholm and Sebastian Aho; both of whom are expected to continue to develop and mature. With all of that occurring, a with the play of vet centers Jordan Staal and Marcus Kruger, a newcomer, this team could score some goals. This is true especially if winger Jeff Skinner stays healthy.
Skinner was sixth in the NHL in goals last season with 37. Despite having some injury problems early on, fir the past three seasons he’s remained relatively healthy. Lindholm, a young, versatile player who is comfortable at center or right wing, is a fantastic assist-man, while 20-year-old winger Aho provided to be formidable last year in his rookie season. Amongst new players, he was third in goals (24) and fifth in points (49). He also had 214 SOG and 17 PPP. Williams is a 36-year-old right wing who has averaged 50 points per season over the past two years. The former Hurricane lit up the scoreboard for Carolina from 2003-2009. It’s hoped that center Rask can once again accumulate at least 45 points this season, as he did last. He has the potential to increase that tally.
Justin Faulk, Brett Pesce, Jaccob Slavin and Noah Hanifin are golden on defense. They could certainly be a major factor when in comes to this team making the playoffs, which Carolina has not done since 2009. Faulk and Slavin are especially adroit on D. However, Falk has suffered from injuries, which has led to inconsistent output on his part. Last year, Slavin came on strong in the final third of the season, as during that time he earned a ranking of fourth in the league in points with 15 and at plus-13 was tied for third in plus/minus.
Scott Darling starts his fourth NHL season with a reputation for being a consistent backup. Darling’s save percentage of .923 is second amongst current NHL goaltenders who have played at least 75 games. Last season, he was tied for fourth amongst goalies that started a minimum of 25 games. His record was 18-5-5 with his GAA was 2.38. If he can efficiently track pucks when they are near him, which is something he’s had a tough time doing, he should be very effective. Can Ward is a sound backup having earned a record of 26-22-12 last season.
Carolina Hurricanes 2017-2018 Season Preview: Overall Outlook
Our Carolina Hurricanes 2017-2018 Season Preview projects this team to be a contender for a wild card berth. They have a very fine defense and have added some solid veterans to the squad. The big factor in terms of success will be Darling in goal. Can he step up and be the difference-maker?
- The defense could be one of the best in the Eastern Conference, as long as they remain healthy and focused.
- Darling, who has been amazingly effective as a backup in Chicago, will need to get comfortable in his new role quickly as a starter. The good news is backup Ward and the stability he offers.
- Getting more from Rask, Lindholm, and Aho will be essential if this club is going to make it to the postseason for the first time since 2009.