Matt’s quick introduction: This week we will introduce the 2017-18 writing team at Canes and Coffee with a short series of articles that takes a look into the crystal ball and/or previews the 2017-18 Carolina Hurricanes season. Up first is Cory Fogg who I am thrilled to have back for a second season at Canes and Coffee. Cory’s writing will run the gamut, but his specialty is writing feature articles that go in depth on a particular topic.
Welcome back Cory!
As we count down to opening night, we all have our thoughts on what’s going to happen. Really the only givens over the past nine years have been that ‘we won’t make the playoffs’ and the opener is better known as “The Game with the Most Hurricanes Fans in Attendance All Season’. Many Caniacs, myself included, believe that this season is the first year in that span with a real chance of getting out of Rebuilding Mode and into Playoff Mode.
My roommate and I, both half season-ticket holders, always enjoy going through the season playing Nostradamus over what’s going to happen next. The phrase “Calling it now” is often heard in our domain, usually followed by some ridiculous premonition that we’re only saying so that we can have ‘In-House Hockey Genius’ bragging rights. Or just the sound of hot air expanding in our heads. In any case, with the Hurricanes season now here, I thought it would be fun to channel my inner hockey clairvoyant for all of you. Because, obviously, the more people who know, the higher the ego boost if I’m right.
So without further ado, and on a scale from 1 (most likely) to 10 (are you insane?), here is what I am calling right now for the Hurricanes season
Disclaimer: While this likely won’t post before Game 1, all predictions were finalized at 3:30 ET before the opening game. Make fun at your leisure
Calling It Now
1. The Carolina Hurricanes Will Make the Playoffs
The preseason was not a fluke. The Canes improvements in defense as well as superior offensive depth, combined with above average goaltending lead the team back to the promised land after a near-decade
2. Cam Ward will be fine. Still Cam Ward, but fine.
He’ll play about 30 games, and put up some of his best per-game numbers in years, while still aggravating us by giving up at least one soft goal in every game he plays. He’ll still be a better backup than Lack, Khudobin or Justin Peters ever were.
3. Jeff Skinner will score 40+ goals
Playing on the ‘third line’, Skinner will be the primary beneficiary of Bill Peters matchup-manipulation skills and break into yet another tier of goal scoring excellence. At 25 years old, Skinner is still just entering his prime. That’s scary.
4. Sebastian Aho will tally over 60+ points
There will be no sophomore slump for Aho. A year in, and brimming with confidence and quality linemates, Aho will use his elite hockey sense to take another step forward in his development. Not unrelatedly, this leads us to our #5 prediction
5. A Hurricane other than Justin Faulk will make the All-Star Game
I’m not saying that our fearless co-captain won’t make the game for the fourth consecutive season, but he won’t be the only Hurricane if he does. The Hurricanes are quickly becoming the worst kept secret in the NHL. Aho, Skinner, Slavin, Hanifin and Lindholm could all warrant legitimate All-Star consideration this year.
6. The Hurricanes will finish Top 5 in the NHL in Team Defense
This season will find the Hurricanes running out two top-2 caliber defense pairings on a nightly basis, along with two very solid defensive forward lines delivering a puck possession juggernaut. This combined with Scott Darling actually being decent sees Canes’ opponents goal totals plummet.
7. Jordan Staal will be a Selke Trophy finalist
As part of the Hurricanes’ resurgence, Jordan Staal will start getting the elite defensive forward respect that he deserves. The other fearless co-Captain will also threaten 50 points, but I wince far too many times with the puck on his stick for me to formally predict that.
8. Janne Kuokkanen won’t give back Stempniak’s spot
The latest Finnish import starts hot from the outset, benefitting from the heavy defensive focus on his linemate, Jeff Skinner. Necas will not stay past nine games, and by the time Stempniak is healthy and game-ready, Kuokkanen has simply scored too much to send down. Stempniak will see his final year in a Canes uniform far more from the press box than he would like, as Kuokkanen even takes home a few Calder votes.
9. The Hurricanes will win the Metropolitan Division
Carolina will blossom into a better version of the Columbus Blue Jackets, as the elite defense will combine with surprising offensive potency, especially from the legitimate NHL 1st line of Aho-Staal-Lindholm. Justin Williams veteran leadership helps ensure that the Canes start hot and stay hot throughout the season, finishing with well over 100 points. Unfortunately, also like Columbus, the playoffs is where the Canes deficiency of a true superstar is exposed. Stupid Crosby.
10. Scott Darling will win the Vezina Trophy
The gigantic ginger will have no problems fitting in in Raleigh. His propensity to leave juicy rebounds means little as the Hurricanes defensemen regularly eat them up. He leads the NHL in shutouts, guides us to our highest point total since the Cup run, and all ‘Scott Darling’ jersey values go up 10 times.
Let the Season Begin Already, So I Can Stop Making Ridiculous Claims
Look, obviously I had a little fun with this list, but every single one of these premonitions have some basis in plausibility. I firmly believe that #1 will happen. 100%. We’re making the playoffs this year. (Pardon me while I sacrifice a small goat for the continued health of Jeff Skinner)
I believe this is just the beginning. I love how Ron and friends have built this franchise. Whatever happens this year, we’ll be in this same super-positive situation next year, and the year after that, and on likely for several years. This year could easily be super special. All these things could happen. And if they do, remember, I called it right here.
What is your most ridiculous plausible prediction for the season?
Who will be the first call-up to the Hurricanes?
Who is your breakout candidate for the 17-18 Hurricanes?