finished sixth in the Metropolitan Division with 83 points, 14 off the last wildcard spot.
Leading the team in points and goals was the talented Finnish forward Sebastian Aho, scoring 29 goals and 65 points. This will be Aho’s third season in the NHL, and if he keeps improving at the rate he is now, we could very well see an 80-point season from the 21-year-oldTrailing Aho by just a point was his fellow countryman Teuvo Teravainen, who is just 23 and still rapidly improving. The Finnish duo could wreak havoc on any team in the NHL.
Third in scoring for the Hurricanes last season was veteran winger Justin Williams. The 36-year-old returned to Carolina after nine years with a bang, scoring 51 points, his fourth-best season in the past decade. Williams still has a lot more than just experience to offer.
Carolina was involved in three trades, most significantly trading away Jeff Skinner. The 26-year-old winger was in the final year of his contract, resulting in a move to the Buffalo Sabres after putting up 49 points last season. The Hurricanes received a second, third, and sixth-round pick as well as prospect Cliff Pu, who will start the season in the AHL.
In a more surprising move, Carolina traded away Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindholm, both quite young players who seemed to have underperformed or reached a plateau in that system. Hanifin and Lindholm have been traded to Calgary Flames for defenseman Dougie Hamilton, winger Michael Ferland as well as Harvard prospect Adam Fox.
Playing on a second defensive line with Hamilton might be new signing Calvin De Haan, who is ready to prove himself after playing only 33 games last season for the New York Islanders due to injury.
The rookies coming in are this team’s main strength. This draft’s second overall pick Andrei Svechnikov is expected to be a first or second-line winger as well as his 23-year-old countryman Valentin Zykov.
Last year’s first-round pick Martin Nečas is expected to center the second or third line behind Aho or Teravainen and Jordan Staal. 24-year-old Saku Maenalanen is not only expected to come over from Finland to make 2018 his rookie year, but is also a certain tongue-twister for any North American commentator.
It was a rough season for goalies in Carolina. Scott Darling was brought in as a starter after his very consistent showing as a back-up with the Chicago Blackhawks. In 2016/17, Darling played 32 games and had a .924 save percentage, but suffered a huge drop-off last season.
Darling put up a .888 save percentage and had 3.18 goals against average, leading to him splitting time with Cam Ward exactly 50/50. In an ironical turn of events, Ward’s solid numbers earned him a free agency move to Chicago as a back-up there, expecting to be the starter in the beginning as Corey Crawford recovers from injury.
Hurricanes brought in goalie Petr Mrazek from free agency on a very nice $1.5 millon contract. Mrazek has had some problems with management in Detroit, causing him to be traded to Philadelphia. Though not the most consistent, he is still a good goalie and can alternate starts with Darling based on form.