Through 50 games of the 2015-16 season, the Carolina Hurricanes scoring has been balanced even if a little bit light. The team ranks 26th out of 30 teams in the NHL in goals scored per game. That obviously makes for tough sledding trying to parse together wins many nights. When you look at the Canes scoring leaders, there is a cluster of 6 players all pretty close in scoring. Of the bunch, only defenseman Justin Faulk is currently on pace to score more than 50 points, and only Faulk and Jeff Skinner are on pace for more than 20 goals. When you consider that it will be tough for Faulk to reach 20 goals, it seems feasible that the Canes could actually finish above .500 with only 1 50-point player and 1 20-goal scorer.
I would say that the current 85ish point pace has to be pretty close to the ceiling for what is possible with that volume of offense. To push higher, I think the Canes will need all of the good that they have had so far this season including improved goalie play of late, Jordan Staal and his undermanned second line being very good on a nightly basis, a generally healthy lineup and the kids on D holding their own. In addition, I think the Canes will need to have a couple players hit a higher gear offensively.
There seem to be options:
Eric Staal: If he finishes out the season at a point per game, that would net him about 60 points which does not seem too outlandish especially for a player who has played some of his best hockey down the stretch in previous seasons.
Jeff Skinner: He had 1 huge scoring outburst in December and has been okay other than that. Skinner also seems capable of finding a higher gear for a couple months to push closer to recent scoring totals.
Kris Versteeg: He is the closest thing that the Canes have to a playmaker. If Versteeg heats up at the same time that his line mates do, does he have a higher gear that can play at a point per game pace for a 20-25-game stretch?
Jordan Staal: He is not a pure finisher or playmaker, but he has just been so dominant driving puck possession and offensive zone time. He and his line mates have contributed offensively, but is it possible that they can boost their scoring to more like a typical second line pace?
If I was a betting man, I would put my chips on Eric Staal IF the soon to be in trade limbo player remains in a Hurricanes uniform. Eric Staal has played pretty good all-around hockey on a consistent basis this season but really has not found a scoring streak of much significance. He seems do, and has surged at about this time in the past.
To stay where they are in the standings and try to push higher, I think the Canes will need a couple key players to step up and lead the team offensively through the grind of the schedule down the stretch.