Right about now, I could probably go player by player and make a wish list for the first week or so of the 2017-18 season, but if limited to only three, I would choose these three in this order.
1) Scott Darling settles in, plays at least decent and picks up a couple wins
More than anything, I wish that Scott Darling’s landing in Raleigh goes smoothly. He does not need to stand on his head. He just needs to be reasonably solid and ideally get rewarded for it with a couple wins. Doing so should set a calming tone for the team and also avoid an early trip to the goalie management carousel that was not Coach Bill Peters’ strong suit in 2016-17.
2) At least one of Noah Hanifin or Justin Faulk hits the ground running defensively
To have a solid top 4 defensively requires at least three if not four defensemen playing well. I am counting on Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce to reach two which means the Hurricanes need at least one and ideally two more. I have yammered repeatedly about how impressed I have been with Hanifin’s preseason play, but it only matters if it carries over into the regular season. After what I thought was a sub-par 2016-17 season for Faulk defensively, so he is another player with the potential to play at a higher level in 2017-18.
3) A scoring line without Jeff Skinner clicks early
He will inevitably be somewhat streaky like most elite scorers are, but if healthy, Jeff Skinner can be counted on to score. Even better, his one man whirling dervish brand of offense largely creates its own chances and therefore is not dependent on certain line mates. But beyond Skinner, the Hurricanes offense in 2016-17 could accurately be described as depth scoring by committee.
Ideal for early in 2017-18 would be the emergence of more of a top scoring line even if it is the lite-ish variety. Justin Williams an interesting balance of finishing, playmaking and more subtle puck possession and heady play to the lineup. Could he be just what the doctor ordered to help one of the Canes young skilled forwards on the cusp of breaking out to do exactly that?
What say you Caniacs?
If you had only three wishes for the first week or so of the 2017-18 Carolina Hurricanes season, what would they be?