We are clearly moving quickly into the slow part of summer, but Ron Francis was generous enough to offer another big news day on Wednesday when he inked blue line leader Jaccob Slavin to a 7-year contract for $5.3 million per year.
I offered my ‘initial thoughts’ on Jaccob Slavin’s new deal shortly after the transaction was announced on Wednesday.
Thursday we followed up on Jaccob Slavin’s deal and considered the pros, cons and possibilities of re-signing other players this summer before their contracts expire next summer. My Thursday Daily Cup of Joe has my thoughts on other early re-signing candidates, and the Thursday Coffee Shop offers a bunch of other great opinions.
For a fun Friday exercise, today’s Daily Cup of Joe will take the current roster (realizing it could still change) and an early look at predictions, odds and such for the 2017-18 season.
Top Canes scorer debate for 2017-18
Jeff Skinner: As a veteran and both the 2015-16 and 2016-17 point leader, Jeff Skinner enters the 2017-18 campaign as the odds on favorite to again lead the team in scoring. He is easily the best bet.
But looking at the dark horses is probably more interesting.
Sebastian Aho: He started slow at least in terms of goal scoring but then surged once he got going. His 49 points as a rookie were second only to Skinner’s 63 points, and his ceiling is much higher. If I had to pick someone other than Skinner to lead the team in scoring, Aho would be my first choice.
Justin Faulk: Having a defenseman lead the team seems unlikely and is generally a sign of scoring problems, but that might not necessarily be the case with Faulk. He had a huge year on the power play in 2015-16. Then he followed it up with a huge year at even strength in 2016-17. If he put both together and stayed healthy, is 60 points and team leadership possible? Just maybe.
The field: The Hurricanes have a few other players whose potential is high. Both Teuvo Teravainen and Elias Lindholm were drafted with higher-end scoring potential. Both have shown spurts of promise. But neither has really fired consistently on all cylinders. If one or both did, it is hard to say where their scoring ceiling is, but it is certainly higher than what they have done thus far in their NHL careers.
Odds of winning league-wide individual awards
In a smaller market and after seven consecutive non-playoff seasons, Hurricanes players maybe not surprisingly do not receive much consideration for winning the major individual hardware.
Despite finishing in sixth place in 2016-17 with 37 goals, I doubt anyone is mentioning Skinner when talking about the 2017-18 Richard Trophy for most goals scored during the season. But is he really more of a long shot than anyone else not named Crosby, McDavid or Ovechkin?
And despite being a tremendous defensive defenseman with untapped offensive potential, I doubt anyone will include Jaccob Slavin in preseason Norris Trophy conversations.
The team’s record and chances of making the playoffs
The biggest question in terms of projecting the Carolina Hurricanes 2017-18 season is what the team’s record will be and whether it will be good enough to make the 2017-18 playoffs. On the one hand, the Hurricanes have improved with the addition of Scott Darling, Justin Williams and depth players. On the other hand, the team is likely in the best division in the NHL.
Interestingly, the early odds making from the betting world does not think too highly of the Hurricanes prospects for the 2017-18 season. One early odds chart has the Hurricanes tied for 20th most likely to win the 2018 Stanley Cup which lines up reasonably well with the 2016-17 results. But in contrast, the same article paints a negative downside with Bill Peters having the second highest probability of being the first NHL bench boss fired in 2017-18.
Other odds makers generally agree with the middling projections for the 2017-18 Carolina Hurricanes.
Personally, I put the Hurricanes firmly in the large pack of teams that are good enough to make the playoffs but easily also capable of missing the playoffs. And that is what makes the hockey season both unpredictable and at least mostly fun.
What say you Canes fans?
Who do you see leading the team in scoring?
If you had to pick one Hurricanes player to shock the world and win league-wide hardware in 2017-18, who would it be?
What do you see as a fair over/under for total standings points in 2017-18, and do you think the team will beat that number?