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During the summer off-season, however, there are hardly any games. Some friendly matches turn up at the end of August, but the regular seasons are still a long way off.
But hockey life has not come to a complete halt. There are important rotations and transfers of hockey players between teams. Let’s try to look ahead and assess the prospects of the Carolina Hurricanes, the current squad, and the club’s strengths and weaknesses.
Last season’s results
At the end of the regular season, Carolina finished first in the Central Division and third in the league, two points behind Vegas and Colorado, who led the East Division.
In the first round of the playoffs, the team faced Nashville, which was successful after six games (4-2). In the quarterfinals, the team unexpectedly lost easily to Tampa, who won their second Stanley Cup in a row. Carolina could do nothing against the Lightning, winning only once in the series (1-4).
Sebastian Aho was the team’s top scorer for the season, with 56 games and 57 assists (24+33).
Carolina’s roster has undergone many changes this offseason, which could significantly affect the team’s play next season. The key losses are the leaves of the following hockey players:
- Alex Nedeljkovic to Detroit;
- Petr Mrázek to Toronto;
- James Reimer to San Jose.
- Jani Hakanpaa to Dallas;
- Dougie Hamilton to New Jersey.
- Brock McGinn to Pittsburgh;
- Warren Foegele to Carolina;
- Morgan Geekie to Seattle;
- Cédric Paquette to Montreal.
But despite the loss of so many players, the team managed to find replacements for them and strengthened their positions significantly. Among the main additions are the following:
- Antti Raanta from Arizona;
- Frederik Andersen from Toronto.
- Ian Cole from Minnesota;
- Anthony DeAngelo and Brendan Smith from Rangers;
- Ethan Bear from Edmonton.
- Maxim Letunov from San Jose;
- Joshua Leivo from Vancouver;
- Derek Stepan from Arizona.
A little about the team’s history and prospects for the 2021-22 season
In past years, Carolina has shown a high-quality game and made even their biggest rivals reckon with them. In the previous season, the team won a very tough division. Therefore, it is now very hard to imagine that the club has never made it to the playoffs between 2010 and 2018.
Despite all their success in the regular season, they have been extremely disappointing in the play-offs and have never made it to the final round.
To break this trend, the Hurricanes gave the team a major shake-up this summer. But that didn’t affect the team’s overall strength. Carolina retains high odds to win the 2021-22 season and is considered one of the strongest clubs in the NHL today. Most bookmakers place the team among the top five contenders to win the championship next year.
One of Carolina’s leaders today is Sebastian Aho. He is among the top forwards in the NHL. His efforts have helped make up for some defensive gaps. Even when the team was on the penalty kill and Sebastian was on the ice, Carolina’s expected goal percentage was nearly 40%. That meant the club managed to answer six opponent attacks with four of its own. Aho also tightened up considerably on the throw-in.
Andrey Svechnikov is another one of the most effective players on the club’s roster. Last season, he scored 42 points (15+27). In recent games, the coaches fielded the Russian in a tandem with Teuvo Teravainen and Sebastian Aho. That trio has proven to be very formidable. Therefore, we expect to see this combination of hockey players in the upcoming season as well. Based on the latest games, this lineup will make a splash in the NHL.
Teravainen has not had enough match practice. The Finn was first placed in the Covid protocol, and then he was out for some time because of a concussion. But as his recent games have shown, the hockey player has fully recovered and the offseason should only benefit him.
Jordan Staal and Vincent Trocheck are also among the leaders. They scored a total of 81 assists last season, but they not only played well on attack but also played a lot on defense.
In addition, Carolina has a strong focus on young talent. There are a lot of players on the roster who may soon become NHL stars. Among them is the Czech Martin Necas. The 22-year-old hockey player was just two points away from becoming the second-best scorer on the Hurricanes’ roster. Martin had 41 assists (14+27). Despite making his first appearance in Carolina in the second half of the season, the Czech finished third in the league in points scored short-handed (2+2).
Other young players have much less chance of making a full play next season, as the core squad has already been set up to a large extent.
From the above, we conclude that Carolina is likely to make the playoffs unless some unpredictable factors interfere with them. This will be much easier if the newcomers fit in quickly, and if there will be no severe injuries. This is especially the case for the incoming goalkeepers, as well as defenceman Anthony DeAngelo.
The latter is well known for his difficult character, which is why the hockey player did not get a place at the Rangers. Nevertheless, Tony has a big mission. He has to replace Dougie Hamilton.
There is almost no doubt that Carolina will play outstandingly in the coming season.