The Carolina Hurricanes future is very bright with the group of young talent they have assembled. They also have a plethora of prospects who are having great seasons in junior hockey. Their top point player, Jeff Skinner, is having a great year with 31 goals and 55 points, while rookie Sebastian Aho is finding success in the NHL too with 23 goals and 47 points. These two, along with Elias Lindholm and Victor Rask are a solid foundation to build a forward core around.
Carolina Hurricanes Future is Bright
Veteran Jordan Staal is also having a respectable year with 43 points and gives this franchise the leadership it needs. 34-year-old Lee Stempniak is coming to the end of his career, but with 38 points, shows no signs of slowing down. These two won’t lead the Hurricanes in points, but there value stems much beyond what they out on the score sheet.
Carolina has put their blue line together via the draft and their top four are all under 25 years old. Justin Faulk is the ‘veteran’ of the group, and his 35 points from the blue line is certainly welcomed. Their fifth-overall pick in the 2015 draft, Noah Hanifin, is having a solid sophomore season with three goals and 21 assists. Jaccob Slavin is showing to be a steal from the 2012 draft at 120th overall, as he’s become a key piece of this teams blue line.
Prospects to Watch
Other defensemen are performing well in the junior ranks and will look to join this group shortly. Seventh-overall pick of 2014, Haydn Fleury, is playing with the Charlotte Checkers in the AHL with 21 points over 59 games. This years 13th-overall pick Jake Bean, has been a point-per-game defenseman this season in the WHL with 45 points, 37 assists, in 43 games. He won’t be NHL-ready next season, but when he’s ready to make the jump he’ll show that his first-round selection was worthy.
Four forwards to watch over the next couple seasons include Julien Gauthier, Janne Kuokkanen, Nicolas Roy, and Warren Foegele. Gauthier was drafted 21st this past draft and has been dominating the QMJHL with 51 points in 43 games between the Val-d’O-Foreurs and the Saint John Sea Dogs. Kuokkanen signed his three-year entry-level contract this past week, and with the London Knights of the OHL this season he has 62 points in 60 games.
Roy is a fourth-round pick in 2015, but his play in the QMJHL this year is making him look like a major steal. He has 80 points in 53 games with 36 goals. Lastly, a third-round pick in 2014, Foegele is having an equally good year in the OHL like Kuokkanen, with 63 points in 61 games between the Kingston Frontenacs and the Erie Otters.
Is Cam Ward this team’s answer between the pipes? No. Is he a capable goalie that can give you a fighting chance each night? Yes. The 33-year-old has had a decent NHL career with a 294-228-79 record and 2.70 goals-against average. His numbers this season reflect that, but for this team to get over the hump, they’ll need an upgrade.
Carolina is one of only eleven teams to keep their opponents to under 30 shots per game. Callum Booth inked his three-year entry-level contract earlier this month, but is a raw prospect and nowhere near NHL-ready. He’s posted a 2.35 GAA since joining the Saint John Sea Dogs, but the QMJHL is the first of a few stepping stones before he’ll dawn a Carolina jersey.
With a 34-27-14 record, Carolina sits only four points out of a wild card spot this season. With moves this off-season they could very well compete for a playoff berth in the 2017-18 season.