A simplified look backward at the 2017-18 season, offers the following deficits to be overcome hopefully on the path to a return to the playoffs:
- For the 2017-18 season, the Hurricanes scored 225 goals as compared to 237 for 16th place Los Angeles for a 12-goal shortage. (General idea is that 16 teams make the playoffs, so in simplified terms that is a playoff cut line offensively.)
- And for the 2017-18 season, the Hurricanes allowed 253 goals as compared to 238 for 16th place Washington for a 15-goal shortage.
Today’s Daily Cup of Joe addresses the scoring side of the ledger in trying to tally up scoring totals for a projected lineup.
Please remember to click ‘vote’ after each individual poll response.
The scoring line
Sebastian Aho (31 goals vs. 29 in 2017-18)
Aho finished with 29 goals in his sophomore campaign. While I do think Aho has upside yet from his 29 goals and 69 points in 2017-18, I think it requires a either a higher-end third line mate or chemistry that helps boost the line. As such, I put Aho at a modest increase despite the potential for significantly more.
Teuvo Teravainen (25 goals vs. 23 in 2017-18)
Somewhat similar to Aho, I think the next leg up for Teravainen requires a third that clicks for their line. That is usually how point per game lines work, and I do not think it is any different here. As with Aho, I will give Teravainen a modest boost from the previous season.
Valentin Zykov (20 goals vs. 3 in 2017-18 in short audition)
After a decent 9-game audition late in the 2017-18 season, Valentin Zykov is arguably the front runner to slot with Aho/Teravainen. He brings a blue paint style of play to the line and meshes well as a player who produces without playing a ton with the puck on his stick. His 33 goals in only 63 games at the AHL level in 2017-18 suggest a high ceiling, but I think my target is reasonable at the NHL level. Zykov’s total likely dips by quite a bit if he falls to a lower line with less offensive talent. I think 20 could be a bit conservative if he logs a full season with Aho/Teravainen but also think it is likely high if he lands on a lesser scoring line. Something more like 10-15 might be more reasonable on a different line.
The top checking line
Jordan Staal (16 goals vs. 19 in 2017-18)
Playing more than half of the 2017-18 season with Aho/Teravainen yielded only a very modest boost in scoring. For as good as Jordan Staal is at his primary role as a high-end defensive center, I think the fact that Aho and Teravainen found a higher gear in 2017-18 and somehow did not really seem to take Staal with them shows that he is what he is offensively and that is with a modest ceiling scoring-wise. But I do think the wild card is Rod Brind’Amour as head coach. Playing a similar defense-first style of play and role, Brind’Amour had a couple huge seasons offensively, so just maybe he can coax the same out of Staal. But until I see evidence that that is the case, I am slotting Staal away from Aho and Teravainen and decreasing his goal total modestly because of it.
Brock McGinn (13 goals vs. 16 in 2017-18)
McGinn is a tough one to project. His 16 goals in 2017-18 were impressive given his undersized ice time, minimal power play time and poor luck leading the NHL in shots off the goal posts. On the one hand, a bit more shooting accuracy or simple luck could have had him at 20 goals last year. In addition, it is not unreasonable to think that he still has one more gear offensively at the age of 24. On the other hand, part of me thinks his ceiling is that of a good depth forward such that he was pretty much at his ceiling in 2017-18.
Justin Williams (16 vs. 16 in 2017-18)
Williams slipped from 24 goals with the Capitals in 2016-17 to only 16 with the Hurricanes in 2017-18. The downgrade is maybe not surprising going from a Capitals juggernaut to a Hurricanes team that struggled to score at times. As a player who plays a good complementary game offensively, Williams range for 2018-19 is partly a function of role and line mates. If he lands with more offensive talent, I could see him scoring a bit more, but if he lands with Rask of Staal which seems more likely, I think the 16 goals he had in 2017-18 is about right again.
The opportunistic scoring line
Jeff Skinner (26 vs. 24 in 2017-18)
He still seems reasonably likely to be dealt before the start of the season, but tentatively, I slot him on a second scoring line. That is pretty similar to his role for the past few seasons, so I would expect similar results. The tricky part is figuring out what that is after 37 goals in 2016-17 but then only 24 in 2017-18. I think somewhere in lower end of the middle is about right. If he magically found chemistry with the talented kids, he could easily push higher, but my baseline assumes he continues to be a bit of a ‘do it yourselfer’ offensively which caps his upside a bit.
Martin Necas (14 vs. N/A in 2017-18)
I am on record as loving Necas’ upside as a playmaking center. I also credit him for showing a bit more in terms of his shot and finishing ability during prospect camp in June. But I think his natural skill set leans and is more developed as a playmaker/passer, and he will also be a 19-year old rookie in 2018-19. Sure his upside is higher, but think a modest goal total is most likely in 2018-19, and even if he acclimates quickly, I think his near-term upside is more likely to register in the assist column.
Andrei Svechnikov (20 vs. N/A in 2017-18)
As a #2 overall pick whose skill set is that of a scoring winger, Svechnikov has 40-goal potential. But like Necas, he will be an NHL rookie making a big jump to the NHL level. The difference with Svechnikov is that his strength is goal scoring. As such, I do not think an early rise and 30 goals is out of the question. But at the same time, tamer expectations are more reasonable for an 18-year old rookie likely to have some peaks and valleys. As a quick reference point, Aho had a big rookie season when he was a year older and notched 24 goals. No doubt more is possible, but I think anyone who considers it a sure thing is counting chickens before they are hatched.
Netting out the top 9
A quick tally shows 183 goals for the top 9 forwards. That compares favorably to only 172 goals from the team’s top 9 scorers in 2017-18.
The (balanced) fourth line
Victor Rask (12 vs. 14 in 2017-18)
If Rask lands in a depth role and is pushed off of the power play units by the young guns, I actually think goal scoring will be the wrong measure of whether or not Rask rebounds. I think he could have a stronger season in a somewhat different role but not see it register in the goal column. People like to talk about balanced lines, but because of power play math, this not equate to balanced scoring. Teams have 6-8 power play slots for forwards. As such, players below that cut line will almost always see a scoring fall off because of lack of power play points. I think that could well be the case for Rask in 2018-19 even if his level of play rebounds.
Micheal Ferland (13 vs. 21 (for Calgary) in 2017-18)
I think Ferland’s 2018-19 goal scoring could be largely dependent on role. I view him and Zykov as similar. Whichever (and I think they are the two leading candidates) lands with Aho and Teravainen should have 20-25 goal potential. If the other lands down the depth chart with Rask or possibly even Staal, I think that total dips significantly. So feel free to flip flop Zykov and Ferland if that is your priority, but my thinking is that the total between the two does not change that much.
Jordan Martinook (5 vs. 5 (for Arizona) in 2017-18)
Jordan Martinook figures to have more of an impact with his physical play and hopefully as a standout as a penalty killer. But he is not devoid of goal scoring. If he can match the five that he scored in 2017-18, that would be a decent contribution from a fourth line role and superior to what the Hurricanes received from similar slots last year.
Other depth forwards – Warren Foegele and Phil Di Giuseppe
If Warren Foegele or Phil Di Giuseppe instead claim a depth role from Martinook, either could potentially offer a little bit of scoring upside. But again, in a fourth line role with likely no power play time, it is likely not reasonable to expect a ton of upside.
The blue line
Dougie Hamilton (15 vs. 17 (for Calgary) in 2017-18)
Hamilton had a huge year with 17 goals in 2017-18 bettering the 12 and 13 goals that he had the previous two seasons. I am calling for a modest regression, but his 15 goals would still be a huge contribution from a defenseman.
Jaccob Slavin (8 vs. 8 in 2017-18)
Slavin’s eight goals in 2017-18 were a good total when one considers that he received minimal power play ice time and scoring seven at even strength. Unless he becomes a fixture on the power play, I think eight goals is again a reasonable contribution given Slavin’s role.
Calvin de Haan (3 vs. 1 (for New York Islanders) in 2017-18
De Haan’s primary role will be that of a defensive defenseman. As such, getting bogged down in whether he will score one or two or however many goals misses the point. If he helps solidify the top 4 defensively, he will improve the hockey team. But in totaling things up, I will figure him for three goals.
Brett Pesce (5 vs. 3 in 2017-18)
A bit like de Haan and Slavin, goal scoring is not the best measure of Pesce’s effectiveness. That said, I continue to think that Pesce has modest upside even in a role with limited if any power play ice time. As such, I am counting him to take a small step up and score five goals in 2018-19.
Trevor van Riemsdyk (5 vs. 3 in 2017-18)
Van Riemsdyk had a solid 2017-18 season in a third pairing role but a modest one offensively with only three goals. If Faulk is traded, I think van Riemsdyk could receive some power play ice time which could boost his scoring modestly.
Haydn Fleury (1 goals vs. 0 in 2017-18)
When Fleury next scores an NHL goal, it will be his first. While I do think Fleury’s upside is somewhat limited offensively by his role and skill set, he is overdue to collect a goal or two during the 2018-19 season.
Justin Faulk as a wild card
I did not include Faulk primarily because I still think he is likely to be traded. If he does return, I think he does boost goal scoring but not by the full 12-14 that I would project him scoring. Part of that gain would be offset by other defensemen receiving less power play ice time and therefore scoring a bit less.
Totaling it up and sanity checking it
If my late night math is correct, I have the Hurricanes scoring 248 goals which is a sizable increase over the 225 they scored in 2017-18 and well above the 237 for the 16th place cut line last year.
To be honest, I think this total is too high for a couple reasons.
In looking at the player by player totals, while I do think the Canes will get more from the fourth line in 2018-19 but because of reduced ice time and lack of power play time, the dozen-ish goals for Rask and Ferland is probably a bit high if they are truly in these roles.
The total also implicitly assumes that either the team stays healthy or if not that replacements can score at a similar pace.
Finally, the total counts on 28 goals from Jeff Skinner. If he is traded, the total most certainly decreases.
If I had to assess my own math, I would say that it is likely high by 10-15 goals.
What say you Canes fans?
1) Which of my estimates do you most disagree with?
2) If you had to back of the envelope it, how do you think the current roster fares compared to the 225 goals from 2017-18?
3) Which player(s) have the most upside?