Just like the Devils who I wrote about yesterday, the Carolina Hurricanes overachieved quite a bit reaching 86 points. Young defensemen really stepped up giving the Canes one of the best young bluelines in the league. They’ll need better goaltending this season and the young forwards to now take that step to make the push into the playoffs. While I don’t think they get there because I don’t trust either goalie (Spoiler!), they are a team that could surprise. Let’s take a look at how their roster is shaping up along with their top 5 prospects.
I have no idea what the Hurricanes are doing at this position. They decided to extend the corpse of Cam Ward again, giving him a 2 year deal. While his goals against average was decent last season, it was his fourth straight season with a save percentage no better than .910. He’s simply not starting quality at this point in his career and hasn’t been in quite some time. At best, he’s a #3 in fantasy but I wouldn’t want him on my team.
If I’m taking a shot on a Hurricanes goalie, it would be Eddie Lack. That said, I’m not really looking to take him either because he was a mess in his first season with Carolina. Lack had a 2.81 GAA and .901 sv% which is awful. He looked very good in his time in Vancouver so there’s at least some upside for him to be good. On one hand, it shouldn’t shock me for Lack to run away with the job but I don’t trust the Canes to start Lack over Ward for extended stretches even if Lack outclasses Ward. He’s another guy who’s at best a #3 but he at least has the upside to be a 2.
Outside of Ron Hainsey (fantasy irrelevant), their oldest defenseman is going to be 24 years old. That guy is Justin Faulk, who had a monster first half of the season before a prolonged slump and injuries derailed him. Faulk still finished with 16+21 in 64 games, including 12 goals on the power play. He also took almost 3 shots per game which is among the best in the league for defensemen. Faulk also was a huge minus for the second straight year finishing at -22. He’s a fit for all teams as a 3rd defenseman who has the upside to be a D2.
While I like the rest of their young guys in real life, I have no idea how much fantasy value these Hurricanes are going to have. Jacoob Slavin should be on the first pair with Faulk while Noah Hanifin and Brett Pesce will play together on the second pair. Slavin was decent in assists and useless everywhere else, same with Hanifin and Pesce wasn’t particularly good at anything from a fantasy perspective. That said, they all will be better this season and a lot will come down to what role they have, namely who (if any of them) plays on the first power play with Faulk. My first guess is that it’s Hanifin and he’d be my first choice in deep leagues and dynasties. The problem is that he’s still only 19 and won’t come near his peak this year. Slavin would be my second choice while Pesce is third. I’m not drafting any of these guys in 12’ers but in deep leagues and dynasties, they all carry plenty of value. I suspect that one of these guys ends up being good enough for RCL’s so the first couple weeks are worth monitoring to see the roles they are in.
Haydn Fleury, the former 7th overall pick, looks likely to make the team on the third pair with Hainsey. I’m a big fan in dynasties as he has a lot of offensive potential and he likes to throw the body around racking up penalty minutes in the WHL for Red Deer. For redrafts, there’s no value here outside of the deepest of leagues.
The most valuable Carolina forward looks to be Jeff Skinner. After a horrible 2014-15, Skinner bounced back with 28 goals and 23 assists playing all 82 games. The penalty minutes are solid, the shot rate is elite at over 3 per game and there’s upside for more having only 7 STP last year. It’s crazy that Skinner is still only 24 years old as he enters his seventh season. He’s going to be right around 100th overall since 30 goals and 250 shots are well within the realm of possibility.
I’d guess that Skinner’s center to start the season will be Victor Rask. The former elite prospect took a big step in his sophomore season with 21 goals and 27 assists in 80 games. He took off last in the season once Eric Staal was traded; 20 minute games became the norm for Rask. The shots are merely passable as is the penalty minutes but 55-60 points wouldn’t surprise me at all. In RCL’s, he’d be one of my last picks for the upside.
Lee Stempniak comes to Raleigh after a big season for the Devils. After getting a late tryout, Stempniak received a 1 year deal with New Jersey and it turned out to be a massive steal. Stemp scored 19 goals and added 32 assists playing on the first line. There’s a good chance he’s with Skinner and Rask to start the year giving him that same opportunity. He’s right on the edge of 12’ers since the shots are well below average; I think I’d hope he goes undrafted so I could stream him early on and see how things go for him on Carolina.
Carolina will surely be counting on Jordan Staal to shoulder the defensive load against the top lines of the opposition. He had one of his best offensive seasons last year with 20 goals and 28 assists. That said, I wouldn’t draft him in 12’ers. Staal doesn’t have any standout quality in fantasy terms, he’s merely average or below average in all categories. Let someone else reach for him based on name value.
Elias Lindholm is one of the two Canes I could see breaking out this season to become a hold in 12’ers. The former top 5 pick didn’t take the step forward most expected in his third season scoring 39 points for the second straight year. That said, Lindholm is still only 21 years old and he looks to be the main playmaker on the Hurricanes top power play unit (Faulk isn’t a PPQB, he’s a shooter first). I’m looking to stream Lindholm early in the year knowing I could end up holding him.
The other potential breakout is Teuvo Teravainen. The Hurricanes added Teravainen from Chicago by taking on Bryan Bickell‘s horrible contract. He’s another 21 year old who showed plenty of flashes when he got the chance in Chicago. I’d be shocked if his minutes don’t go up significantly with the Canes dying for offensive talent. I could see taking him with my last pick in a 12 man league but at the least, he’s another guy on the streaming radar.
TOP 5 PROSPECTS
1) Sebastian Aho – He’s coming over from Finland after he lit up the Finnish league scoring over a point per game at 18. I’m not sure if he’ll make the Hurricanes right away or if he’ll be in the AHL but he’s one of my favorite prospects long term.
2) Haydn Fleury
3) Alex Nedeljkovic – Almost certainly the goalie of the future
4) Jake Bean
5) Julien Gauthier
That’s all for now guys. I’ll be back tomorrow with a preview of the Philadelphia Flyers. As always, feel free to ask any comments or questions below. Take care!