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2017-2018 NHL Preview: Carolina Hurricanes

The Hurricanes see dividends this year for years of rebuilding

James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

In this 31 part series, I will be working my way back from 31st to 1st in my projected 2017-2018 standings. Seventeenth up are the Carolina Hurricanes who have spent the last 2 years rebuilding their roster. In their 20th season, they won the 2006 Stanley Cup behind Eric Staal and Rod Brind'Amour. They have since missed the playoffs in 8 straight seasons.

Basic Stats:
2016-2017 NHL Standings: 21st
Eastern Conference Standings: 12th
Metropolitan Division Standings: 7th
Goals for Rank: 20th
Goals against Rank: 18th

: The 5th youngest team in the league, the Hurricanes are spending the least percentage of their cap on defense. As contracts (a bunch of them entry level) come to fruition they will have to shell out more but they have done with the New York Rangers had 7-8 years ago with Dan Girardi, Marc Staal, Ryan McDonagh and Michael Del Zotto. The Hurricanes have a core defensive unit all under 26 years old with Noah Hanifin (20), Justin Faulk (25), Klas Dahlbeck (26), Jaccob Slavin (23), Brett Pesce (22) and Trevor van Riemsyk (26), four of them (Noah, Justin, Jaccob and Brett) were all drafted by the Hurricanes between 2010 and 2015. This is a group that will continue to get stronger the longer they play together. On offense, they don't necessarily have a star but instead a deep roster of above average talent. Jeff Skinner, Victor Rask, Teuvo Teravainen, Sebastian Aho, Elias Lindholm and Justin Williams (all of them except Justin are 25 or younger and likely have their best years ahead) are all 50+ point capable. They added Scott Darling in net. It remains to be seen how he can do with a full load but over his last three years in Chicago he has averaged a 2.37 GAA and .923 Sv % across 75 games. I think he sees some regression with a full season work load but he's shown over the course of 3 seasons that he can be a legitimate goaltender. I anticipate their goals for to rise up around 15th area and goals against to do the same putting them squarely in the median in the NHL (hence their 15th spot). This is the quintessential average NHL team but they finally break their 8 seasons without a playoff berth.

Major Additions
: Justin Williams, Trevor van Riemsdyk, Scott Darling
Major Subtractions: None

Prospects and Picks:
-Martin Necas. He reminds me of a Marian Gaborik or Martin Havlat. I have no reason to believe he will be oft injured but his speed and skill coupled with how quicky he moves his body around leads me to believe he will be a skilled player who could be in situations where injury finds him. He is on the smaller side and will need some time to get bigger.

-Jake Bean. The 13th overall pick in the 2015 draft had a respectable year with the Calgary Hitman in the WHL last year scoring 35 points across 43 games. Even on the international stage with U20 Canada he has 2 assists in 7 games. He will likely need another year and has his work cut out for him with the aforementioned young defense group but he should make a strong contention for it the end of this year or early next year.

Sleeper Fantasy Asset:
-Sebastian Aho. Elias Lindholm. Victor Rask. Teuvo Teravainen. All sub 50 points and I think all score over 50 points this year. Breaking it down further I anticipate -€” Elias Lindholm's goal totals will go up from 11 to 16-18 territory. Sebastian Aho will continue his even mix of goals and assists, he was 24 G and 25A last year I think it's more like 26G and 28A this year. Victor Rask will dish out some more assists and go from 29 last year up to 34 this year. Finally Teuvo who I'm very bullish on as a long term success story. I think Teuvo hits 20 goals this year with 30 assists (a lot of them being on the Power Play) and continues his ascension in coming years.

- Plus/Minus. This space is devoted more to that stat category. Last year Carolina had 5 players on their team in the positive with the stat. This year it will be closer to 13-14 players who are in the positive as they score more and allow fewer goals against.

Cap Situation:
They currently have around $17.2MM with 21 players signed.

Projected finish:
2017-2018 NHL Standings: 15th
Eastern Conference Standings: 9th
Metropolitan Division: 5th

NHL 16th: San Jose Sharks (Western Conference 7th; Pacific Division 4th)

NHL 17th: Dallas Stars (Western Conference 8th; Central Division 4th)

NHL 18th: Philadelphia Flyers (Eastern Conference 10th; Metropolitan Division 6th)

NHL 19th: Winnipeg Jets (Western Conference 9th; Central Division 5th)

NHL 20th: St. Louis Blues (Western Conference 10th; Central Division 6th)

NHL 21st: Boston Bruins (Eastern Conference 11th; Atlantic Division 5th)

NHL 22nd: Buffalo Sabres (Eastern Conference 12th; Atlantic Division 6th)

NHL 23rd: Arizona Coyotes (Western Conference 11th; Pacific Division 5th)

NHL 24th: Los Angeles Kings (Western Conference 12th; Pacific Division 6th)

NHL 25th: New Jersey Devils (Eastern Conference 13th; Metropolitan Division 7th)

NHL 26th: Detroit Red Wings (Eastern Conference 14th; Atlantic Division 7th)

27th: New York Islanders (Eastern Conference 15th; Metropolitan Division 8th)

NHL 28th: Vancouver Canucks (Western Conference 13th; Pacific Division 7th)

NHL 29th: Florida Panthers (Eastern Conference 16th; Atlantic Division 8th)

NHL 30th: Las Vegas Golden Knights (Western Conference 14th; Pacific Division 8th)

NHL 31st: Colorado Avalanche (Western Conference 15th; Central Division 7th)