With the late-ish Canes game on Sunday and after battling a cold all weekend, I am behind on having a Daily Cup of Joe post for Monday and will opt for something easy. 🙂
Here is an early shot at building the Carolina Hurricanes 2017-18 opening day roster.
Carolina Hurricanes forward lines
Sebastian Aho / New C1 / New RW
Teuvo Teravainen / Jordan Staal / Elias Lindholm
Jeff Skinner / Victor Rask / Lee Stempniak
Phil Di Giuseppe / Lucas Wallmark / Joakim Nordstrom
I continue to think that to boost the scoring and be competitive, Ron Francis needs to add 1 difference-maker/catalyst at forward to pair with Sebastian Aho and create another scoring line. Interestingly, per my wheeling and dealing article from the just-passed trade deadline, there might actually be 3 such players available in Matt Duchene, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Alex Galchenyuk. With 2 skilled players with both scoring and playmaking ability, I think the right win on that line would ideally be a power forward with enough finishing and skating ability to benefit from what the other 2 create and be productive. Wayne Simmonds (who will NOT be available) is a model for what I would like to see here – a power forward who goes to the front of the net as a habit and can finish and somewhat importantly does not need to play much with the puck on his stick to be productive. Julien Gauthier’s skill set fits the bill, and he could be a wild card. But early indications from the conversations that I have had with people who watch him more closely is that he might need a year in the AHL before he is ready.
I think/hope Francis’ big add is the top-tier C1. I think the right wing on this line could be more of a complementary player or possibly even Lee Stempniak.
I like Staal and Lindholm as a pair and think Teravainen is an interesting complement who has enough 2-way hockey ability to play on a line that will be tasked as a top checking line at home but who also brings some playmaking to try to boost the scoring for that line.
I think Skinner/Rask continue to be a decent pair.
Finally, out of the existing options for depth players, I like Di Giuseppe most right now, but I really think the fourth line could boil down to an old school training camp try out with Derek Ryan, Lucas Wallmark and maybe even Nicolas Roy battling for the center slot, and Brock McGinn, Phil Di Giuseppe, Joakim Nordstrom and others battling for the wing slots.
Also note that I did not at this early juncture venture a guess for which Hurricanes player will be claimed by Las Vegas in the expansion draft.
Carolina Hurricanes defense pairings
Jaccob Slavin / Brett Pesce
Noah Hanifin or veteran addition / Justin Faulk
Veteran addition / Haydn Fleury or Roland McKeown
Noah Hanifin’s strong play now in 6 games in the top 4 since the Ron Hainsey trade suggests he might be ready to assume a bigger role. But if Francis wants to fairly aggressively play for 2017-18, I think he adds 1 middle price range veteran #4/#5 defenseman. The name I threw out at the trade deadline was Jason Garrison from Tampa Bay who has a $4.6 million salary cap hit that the Lightning might want to unload but a fairly budget-friendly $2.5 million actual salary. There are other options. The basic idea is to add a veteran #4/#5 defenseman, ideally who could play either side to either fill the #4 slot until someone else is ready or provide veteran stability for the bottom pairing alongside a young defenseman.
Carolina Hurricanes goalies
March has the potential to change things significantly, but as of right now, my best guess is that Francis will opt to stick with Ward but will try to upgrade the other goalie slot. With the expansion draft, a couple trade possibilities and a high volume of free agents, I think Francis and his scouting staff will take the best shot they can to upgrade the slot currently occupied by Lack with Lack either being traded or bought out. That said, the Hurricanes have 20 games that they can use to prepare for 2017-18, and I think Lack will get every opportunity to play his way back into the picture.
What say you?
What do you project for lines/combinations for the start of the 2017-18 season?
How many and what positions, do you think Francis will add from outside of the current roster and the system?