This borrows a bit from other articles, but it is mid-August and that time of year when new news is sparse and untouched topics few.
Today’s Daily Cup of Joe offers 5 things that could most significantly tilt the 2018-19 Hurricanes to positive.
1) The emergence of a goalie
At least equal time if not more is spent considering forward lines, defense pairings, rookie skaters who could make a difference, sources for more scoring, etc. But at the end of the day, I think it will be incredibly difficult for the 2018-19 Hurricanes to push up into the playoffs if they do not receive at least league average goaltending over the course of the season from at least one of Scott Darling and Petr Mrazek. The position continues to be a yearly detractor, and I do not think the 2018-19 Hurricanes will be good enough to overcome more of the same.
2) An across the board boost from a steadier blue line
Related to #1, with the addition of Dougie Hamilton and Calvin de Haan, might the revamped blue line finally emerge as a steadying force and every-game strength? Such a development, could actually play a significant role in boosting the goaltending, but I think equally significantly, the blue line could aid the search for more scoring. Can the group tilt the ice into the offensive zone and be an offensive catalyst such that the team gains offense not so much from a couple players but rather everyone chipping in a bit more? That would be the Holy Grail for scoring.
3) A rapid rise from both Andrei Svechnikov and Martin Necas
Especially with the departure of Jeff Skinner, the Hurricanes forward group is really light on players that I would consider to be offensive difference-makers. There are others with potential, but really only Sebastian Aho and potentially Teuvo Teravainen really qualify entering the season. Svechnikov for sure and possible Necas have a ceiling easily in the range. But as an 18-year old and 19-year old respectively who enter the 2018-19 season with virtually no NHL experience, it is uncertain how close to his ceiling each will get and more significantly how soon. A rapid rise by one or both of these players in 2018-19 would significantly boost scoring.
4) Rod Brind’Amour’s effect
Rod Brind’Amour as head coach is a complete wild card. On the one hand, he has zero head coaching experience past whatever he logged coaching his children. On the other hand, he could have just the mentality and mindset that breathes fresh air into a group that was not where it needed to be in terms of attitude, confidence, etc. in 2017-18. Could Brind’Amour be just what the doctor ordered in terms of helping players find a higher gear?
5) The Justin Williams effect
In a similar vein to my comments on Brind’Amour, especially if he is named the captain, could Justin Williams also play a huge role in jolting the system and seeing the team emerge in 2018-19 with a different mindset. To outsiders, it might seem odd to include two intangible type items in a short list of five, but for those who tracked the team closely in February and March last season, the fragile nature of the team was unmistakable. Could Williams jolt the system and help that change for the 2018-19 season?
What say you Canes fans?
1) If you had to select only one of these items for the biggest potential impact in 2018-19, which would you choose?
2) Do you have any other items that could similarly have a significant impact on the Hurricanes 2018-19 season?