Dobber's offseason fantasy hockey grades – Carolina Hurricanes
For the last 12 years over at The Hockey News, I have reviewed each team from a fantasy-hockey standpoint and graded them. Now that I am no longer with THN, my 13th annual review will appear here on DobberHockey. This is not a review of the likely performance on the ice or in the standings, but in the realm of fantasy hockey.
Impact of changes – Goaltender Cam Ward is entering the final year of his bloated contract, a year that will pay him $6.3 million. What the Lack acquisition says to me is that the team has shortened Ward's leash. With just the one year left in that contract, he no longer carries the Golden Boy mantle. Starter, backup – they don't care anymore. If he wins he can start, but if he's mediocre then he can warm the bench. Lack is the superior goaltender so I'll state right here that Lack gets into at least 50 games in 2015-16.
The Wisniewski acquisition indicates a lack of confidence in Ryan Murphy, at least short term. They realize that if he comes around and becomes a complete NHL defenseman, it's not going to happen this year. Wisniewski will buy him another year to develop.
There is still a winger's spot available, so the Hurricanes aren't done with free agency.
Ready for full-time – Noah Hanifin has decided to turn pro and he'll make the Hurricanes. His impact will be similar to that of Aaron Ekblad's from a year ago with Florida, except for maybe five or six fewer points (Ekblad had 39).
Haydn Fleury is probably still a year away, and he doesn't boast a ton of fantasy upside (kind of like a Jay Bouwmeester). So when he arrives, expecting more than 20 points in his first year is a tall order. I suspect he'll just get nine games as a trial and then back to junior. But as things stand today, there is a spot available.
Michal Jordan showed last year that he can be an NHL defenseman, but just as a third-pairing guy. Maybe some injuries happen and he gets thrust into a more offense-oriented role, but as things stand now I would be surprised if he tallied even 20 points.
Sergey Tolchinsky is dazzling development camp with his moves. Again. He does this every camp – even the main one. And with 186 points in his last 127 OHL games, you know what his forte is. However, he's very small. Just 5-8, 165 and so he would have to make a Gaudreau-like impact on the coaching staff if he's ever going to stick. I'll get excited if he makes the team out of camp, but until then I won't hold my breath.
Fantasy Outlook – Carolina is in transition mode, but they don't seem to be transitioning very fast. Sure, they made the key moves by upgrading in net and shedding themselves of Semin, but otherwise moves haven't been made. There are still spots that haven't been filled on the roster. Will they sign a free agent? Well, the best forwards that are out there aren't very good at all – former Hurricane Jiri Tlusty is as good as anyone else left (which isn't good at all). Will they trade, and if so using which asset? Or will they give a youngster like Tolchinsky or Brock McGinn a chance? As things stand right now Zach Boychuk is on the team and Chris Terry is the seventh best forward – that can't happen, can it?
Carolina as a team boasted an extremely low SPSv% (formerly known as PDO). So just by nature, scoring should increase to their expected norm. But that won't be enough. The prospects pipeline is poor from a fantasy standpoint, so they'd better hope Tolchinsky becomes a star.
Fantasy Grade: D (last year was C-)