When one considers the Carolina Hurricanes roster and difference-makers for the 2018-19 season to date, one of the things that jumps out is the number of players who were not expected to be part of the NHL mix at all but are instead playing key roles
Top of the list of surprise difference-makers is Curtis McElhinney. He was not even on the roster toward the end of training camp but was added via waivers when Scott Darling was injured. Right now, the Hurricanes are three games above .500. Scott McElhinney is five games above .500. It is difficult to say where the Canes would be if they were instead still trying to convert Darling into a serviceable NHL goalie.
Replaced: Scott Darling
Wallmark had a strong preseason but still seemed destined for a return to the AHL if not for Victor Rask’s injury. Fast forward to today, and Wallmark is filling the difficult match up line role usually filled by Staal who is out with an injury. The jury is still out on whether he can find a higher gear offensively as he settles in at the NHL level, but regardless, Wallmark is already playing a significantly larger role than expected.
Replaced: Victor Rask initially and then later Martin Necas (though indirectly).
Despite being in the Hurricanes organization heading into training camp, Greg McKegg seemed very unlikely to factor in at the NHL level. Right now, the sample size is small but McKegg’s Canes debut and short burst of four points in seven games is worth watching.
Replaced: Jordan Staal who is out with an injury.
As with McKegg, the sample size at the NHL level is tiny for Maenalanen. But also just like McKegg, Maenalanen has seized the opportunity when presented with it. After scoring twice on Tuesday, Maenalanen suddenly has four points in only nine games.
Replaced: Phil Di Giuseppe
What say you Canes fans?
1) Which of these players would you consider to be the biggest surprise so far for the 2018-19 season?
2) Is there another player that you would add to this list of difference-makers who would have been expected to contribute before the season started?
3) Which of these players do you expect to have the biggest role going forward?