Last Word on Hockey’s Puck Drop Previews is back for the 2022-23 season! As the regular season approaches, Last Word will preview each team’s current outlook and stories to watch for the upcoming year. We’ll also do our best to project how things will go for each team over the course of the campaign. Today, we’re previewing the 2022-23 Carolina Hurricanes.
2022-23 Carolina Hurricanes
The Hurricanes had a very successful regular season last year. Posting a record of 54-20-8, they set a new franchise record with 116 points on the season. They eclipsed the 50-win mark for the second time in franchise history. The 54 wins is also a new franchise record. The “Bunch Of Jerks” scored a bunch of goals last season. Scoring 277 goals and allowing just 200 goals against, the Hurricanes ranked 3rd overall in goal differential. The Hurricanes’ powerplay struck at a rate of 21.98%, good for 13th overall across the league. The penalty kill was the best in the league. The PK rate of 88% ranks the 2021-22 Hurricanes 8th best of all time, going back to the 1977-78 season.
Carolina finished the season 1st place in the Metropolitan division. They met the Boston Bruins in the first round of the playoffs. The home team won every game of the series. Carolina won the series in a deciding game 7. In the second round, Carolina matched up with a divisional rival, the New York Rangers. The Rangers and Hurricanes went to a deciding seventh game, where the Canes’ season ended.
The Hurricanes had quite an eventful offseason bringing in a few of the more prominent names out there. Brent Burns was acquired via trade with the San Jose Sharks. Veteran Max Pacioretty was obtained via trade from the Vegas Golden Knights. Center Paul Stastny signed a one-year deal with Carolina. Unfortunately for the Hurricanes, they announced that Pacioretty would miss significant time with a ruptured Achilles tendon.
Other notable off-season additions include center Ryan Dzingel and right winger Ondrej Kase. Dzingel, at one point in his career, seemed destined to become a 30-goal scorer. However, his production has gone downhill since his first stint with the Hurricanes. Dzingel provides Carolina with yet more depth down the middle of the ice. Should injuries occur, he can find himself in the lineup. Kase showed plenty of promise during his time with the Anaheim Ducks. However, his career has been relatively injury-plagued. Should he remain healthy, he becomes an option in the bottom 6 of the forward group.
The Hurricanes lost some key players from last season. Nino Niederreiter signed with the Nashville Predators. Vincent Trocheck signed a long-term deal with the Rangers. Tony Deangelo, who had an impressive season with Carolina, joined the Philadelphia Flyers. Max Domi left Carolina, signing a one-year deal with Chicago Blackhawks. Defenceman Ian Cole and Brendan Smith also fled town, signing with the Tampa Bay Lightning and New Jersey Devils, respectively.
Tuevo Teravainen – Sebastian Aho – Andrei Svechnikov
Max Pacioretty – Paul Statsny – Seth Jarvis
Jordan Martinook – Jesper Kotkaniemi – Ondrej Kase
Scratches: Ryan Dzingel, Lane Pederson
The Hurricanes’ top six forward group is very dangerous and capable of providing goals in bunches. Aho has developed into a franchise cornerstone type of center. Teravainen and Svechnikov’s games continue to grow with gained NHL experience. Adding Pacioretty to the mix, when he is healthy, gives Carolina proven goal scoring which will help make up for the losses of Niederreiter and Trocheck. Seth Jarvis looks to build on his successful rookie season.
The bottom six forwards give the Hurricanes plenty of depth. Staal provides excellent two-way play with the ability to score timely goals. Necas is gifted offensively as well. Kotkaniemi is still a young player whose ceiling hasn’t yet been reached. Kase can also provide some depth scoring if he can remain healthy, which has been a knock on his career up to this point.
Overall the forward group has the depth required to follow up on last season’s franchise record-setting regular season.
Brent Burns – Jaccob Slavin
Ethan Bear – Dylan Coghlan
The Hurricanes have lost three of their top six defenders from last season in Deangelo, Cole and Smith. Acquiring Brent Burns will definitely ease those losses. Burns enters his first season with the Canes and slides into their top pairing alongside Slavin. The second pairing looks to be Skjei and Pesce, while the third pairing should be Ethan Bear and newly acquired Coghlan.
The top pairing of Slavin and Burns will be quite solid. Slavin is coming off his best statistical season, putting up four goals and 38 assists for 42 points in 79 games. He also posted a plus/minus rating of +35 last season. While Burns is a few years removed from his 83-point season in 2018-19, he still has a significant upside for providing offence from the blue line. Last season Burns notched 10 goals and 44 assists for a 54-point season. Expect the Hurricanes to control most play with this pairing on the ice.
The second pairing of Brady Skjei and Brett Pesce is also rock solid. Skjei provided plenty of offence for the Canes last season. He had career highs in goals scored with nine and nearly tripled his previous best +/- mark with a +22. Pesce is a crucial piece of Carolina’s penalty kill. With him on the ice, opposing teams generally have a tough time getting quality scoring chances. The pair gives the Hurricanes positive puck possession rates, and playing with the puck is one sure way to keep it out of your own net.
The bottom pairing of Ethan Bear and Dylan Coghlan leaves some questions to be answered. Bear has struggled on his own end, while Coghlan doesn’t have an extensive NHL resume. Both defenders also shoot right-handed, which could be a downside as one of them will have to play on their offside.
Expect the top 4 to eat up a ton of ice time, leaving the bottom pairing with minimal time on ice.
In between the pipes, the Hurricanes are bringing back last season’s tandem of Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta. The duo was everything the team could ask for, allowing them a chance to win on a nightly basis.
Andersen posted a record of 35-14-3 to go along with goals against average of 2.17 and a .922 save percentage. His season ended early, and he wouldn’t see any time in the playoffs after suffering a torn MCL. A healthy Andersen will go a long way to the Canes having a long playoff run.
Raanta filled in admirably for Andersen, going 15-5-4 with a 2.45 GAA and a 912 SV%. Raanta also performed well in the playoffs, while Andersen was sidelined.
Players to Watch
New addition Brent Burns will be a crucial piece to improving the Canes powerplay. Burns always has a high number of shots on the net. Look for his play from the blue line to generate more scoring for Carolina. Expect a progression for their powerplay rankings this season. While Burns is no longer at the peak of his career, he still is a highly effective player.
Seth Jarvis is another player to watch this season. If he can build off his 40-point rookie season campaign and increase his offensive output, Carolina’s top six becomes harder to handle for opposing teams. Should he see a sophomore slump and decrease in production, he can find himself playing the bottom six minutes in a decreased role.
Prediction for 2022-23 Carolina Hurricanes
Replicating last season’s regular season success will be a challenging task to accomplish. The bar was set high with 116 points and winning their division. The play of Andersen, returning from a knee injury, will also be vital to their success. Expect the 2022-23 Carolina Hurricanes to experience some regression from last season. The New York Rangers look poised to give Carolina stiff competition for the Metropolitan division.
2022-23 Carolina Hurricanes will finish 2nd in the Metropolitan division and have fewer points than last season. On the flip side, the Hurricanes will have Pacioretty back for playoffs. Expect the team to advance past the second round of the playoffs this season as they’ve become a perennial Stanley cup contender.