Carolina Hurricanes 2020-21 NHL season preview
The 2020-21 NHL season is almost here so it’s time to preview all 31 teams. Over the next few weeks we’ll be looking at how the offseason affected each team, the most interesting people in the organization, and the best- and worst-case scenarios. Today, we look at the Carolina Hurricanes.
Carolina Hurricanes 2019-20 Rewind
Record: 38-25-5 (81 points); fourth in Metropolitan Division; sixth in Eastern Conference
Leading scorers: Sebastian Aho (66 points), Teuvo Teravainen (63 points)
The Hurricanes were a fun team in 2019-20, as per tradition. Sebastian Aho continues to be one of the most underrated scorers in the league and the Carolina scoring overall has proven to be solid.
They had the whole “beating a team with their own Zamboni driver as its goalie” narrative, but the Hurricanes are deeper than their surface-level jerks identity. In a division of usual suspects to top the standings, the Hurricanes have the brightest future.
They haven’t made too many changes, and some of that is they didn’t have to. This is one of the most interesting teams in the entire league.
Jesper Fast (free agency), Joakim Ryan (free agency)
3 Most Interesting Carolina Hurricanes
• Sebastian Aho: Maybe it’s because he plays south of D.C. but it seems like the NHL world isn’t completely aware how good Aho has been the past few years. He’s only 23 years old and netted 38 goals last season, and there’s no way he’s done improving yet. He’s led them in points for three straight seasons and probably will again.
• Andrei Svechnikov: In just his second season, Svechnikov added on from his stellar rookie season with 61 points. He’s flashy (hello, lacrosse goals) and talented, and he and Aho are the perfect representation of the next generation of stars in the NHL. The top line of those two with Teravainan is going to make some noise once again and should be in the conversation for one of the best in the entire league.
• Jaccob Slavin: Slavin has emerged as a solid top pairing defenseman and he’s a great fit with Dougie Hamilton, who has thrived with the Hurricanes. Perhaps it’s even the best defensive pairing in the NHL. A year ago, he posted the best offensive numbers of his career at age 26 and in less games, to boot. He’s going to be a Norris Trophy candidate for a few seasons yet.
It’s a tough draw for a division with the Stanley Cup champion Lightning and the runner-up Stars. Luckily for the Hurricanes, they project to be in that next tier as the bottom half of the division weakens considerably. Columbus should vie for a spot for certain but it’s really tough seeing the Hurricanes fall out of a playoff spot without some sort of disaster.
There’s a chance everything clicks and they’re better than expected and finish ahead of the Stars, too. They have arguably the best defensive pairing in the league and plenty of scorers, and a condensed schedule could be beneficial.
So let’s say they have some sort of disaster. What does it look like? Is it enough to drop out of a playoff spot entirely? Perhaps Florida or Nashville compete a bit more than expected and the Blue Jackets take a dramatic leap and force the Hurricanes to fight for that fourth spot. Maybe the goaltending bubble finally bursts and James Reimer and Peter Mrzak can’t stop a beach ball. It still feels like the Hurricanes have so much talent up front they’ll be in the race for the postseason by default, but hey, it’s the NHL so you never know.
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