Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Forman Faceoff 2015/2016 NHL Season Preview - Carolina Hurricanes

By: Joel Forman - The Forman Faceoff

Last Season: 30-41-11 with 71 points, last in the Metropolitan Division and 14th in the Eastern Conference

The Hurricanes are excited to getting going this season, and it will be up to Bill Peters to find more consistency with his team in his 2nd year as Head Coach. The Hurricanes were a mess last season and looked like a defeated group early and often. However, they have a wave of youth hitting the NHL including 5th overall pick Noah Hanifin who is making the jump from College hockey. The Hurricanes have an interesting goalie duo in Cam Ward and Eddie Lack, and could surprise some teams if they are able to play at a high level. It will be an interesting year in Carolina, and with that being said here is a look at their 2015/2016 Season Preview:

Kris Versteeg - Eric Staal - Elias Lindholm
Nathan Gerbe - Jordan Staal - Jeff Skinner
Chris Terry - Victor Rask - Riley Nash
Brad Malone - Jay McClement - Andrej Nestrasil
Extra: Joakim Nordstrom, T.J. Hensick

Consistency remains the biggest concern with this forward group, especially considering it was a big problem last season. The Hurricanes have the talent and the ability to score goals but they need to do that on a consistent basis and not in flashes. The top 6 of the Hurricanes is Eric Staal centering Versteeg and Lindholm followed by brother Jordan Staal centering Nathan Gerbe and Jeff Skinner. The line that interests me with Carolina is the Victor Rask-centered 3rd line, him and Riley Nash showed promise last season and look to make a bigger impact this year. If the Hurricanes have any chance at returning to the playoffs they need Eric Staal and Jeff Skinner to step up and improve after a rough last 2 seasons.

James Wisniewski - Justin Faulk
Noah Hanifin - Ryan Murphy
Ron Hainsey - John-Michael Liles
Extra: Michal Jordan

The bright spot for the Hurricanes is a trio of young defenseman: Justin Faulk (23), Noah Hanifin (18) and Ryan Murphy(22). The Hurricanes will build their franchise around these 3, particularly Faulk and Hanifin. Faulk had a career-year last season with 15 goals and 49 points in 82 games, the first time he has played a full season in his early career. Hanifin makes the jump from Boston College to the NHL at age 18, and he looks extremely mature beyond his age. The Hurricanes D is filled out with veterans James Wisniewski, Ron Hainsey and John-Michael Liles, a much-improved unit from the Hurricanes D the last few seasons.

Cam Ward
Eddie Lack

The Hurricanes have a very intriguing goalie battle going into the season, and in my opinion its one that Bill Peters should be thrilled about having. Here are 2 guys that both are pushing for the starting job while at very different points in their career, with Ward being the veteran and Lack the youngster. Ward has been the Hurricanes goalie since 2006 but has been wildly inconsistent the last few seasons, and the acquisition of Lack will create some competition in the crease. If Ward struggles out of the gate don't be surprised if Lack takes over as the #1 and Ward is offered as a potential trade piece for the future.

2015/2016 Outlook and Prediction:
8th in Metropolitan Division, 16th in Eastern Conference

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