Dobber's offseason fantasy hockey grades – Carolina Hurricanes
For the last 15 years (12 with The Hockey News, last year’s via pinch-hitter Cam Robinson) Dobber has reviewed each team from a fantasy-hockey standpoint and graded them.
The 16th annual review will appear here on DobberHockey throughout the summer. 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 – It almost seems as though the trade for Hamilton cleared the decks for an influx of young forwards. This theory was further justified when the team moved Jeff Skinner to the Sabres for prospect Cliff Pu and draft picks. Which makes sense because there are several forwards on the cusp of making the jump (more on that below). Regardless, with Hamilton on board the power play gets a huge boost because Justin Faulk is no longer cutting it as PP QB. So members of this power play will see a boost in production – Hamilton, Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen, Jordan Staal and possibly Justin Williams or youngster Andrei Svechnikov (more on him below).
Speaking of Skinner – former coach Peters insisted on keeping him on the third line and off the power play. A change of scenery with new linemates and a different coaching system can only help his numbers.
As for goaltending, which was the biggest sore spot on the Hurricanes a year ago – did the team manage to find a goaltender that is actually worse than Ward? While both Mrazek and Scott Darling have upside to not only be better, but be an average starting goalie in the NHL, this is an outcome that you shouldn’t count on. Yes, Carolina has a better team around them…but a good team didn’t help an Antti Niemi/Kari Lehtonen duo back in Dallas did it?
Ready for full-time – Andrei Svechnikov was the top forward drafted in the summer and indications are that he will make the team. That’s the expectation for second overall draft picks. He’s a sniper and adds to Carolina’s scoring-line depth, which contributed to making Elias Lindholm a little more expendable. I don’t expect a Brock Boeser kind of rookie impact out of him, but more of a Nico Hischier (but with Boeser’s goal/assist ratio). (Read more on Svechnikov here)
Martin Necas was Carolina’s top pick (12th overall) last year and he nearly made the team right away. He’s only gotten better one year later and has a strong chance of making this team. The only thing that would make the decision tough is if he had a weak training camp – because two other good prospects (below) will have to clear waivers in order to be sent down. So keeping Necas could be costly, so he’ll have to earn it. That being said, this team has Jordan Staal and Victor Rask as their two best centers (though they did try Sebastian Aho there to end last season). This team needs Necas to make a splash. (Read more on Necas here)
Lucas Wallmark signed a two-year contract, with the second year being one-way. So this year it’s a two-way. Why Carolina bothered to do this is not immediately clear to me, because Wallmark has to clear waivers to be sent down and he won’t. The 22-year-old had an amazing 55 points in 45 AHL games for Charlotte. (Read more on Wallmark here)
Valentin Zykov was a revelation at the end of last season when he tallied seven points in 10 games with the big club after he was called up. He also led the AHL with 33 goals. He, too, must clear waivers in order to be sent down so a roster spot is his to lose. The only question is, will he get Josh Leivo-ed to the press box? Or will he actually see ice time in the top nine? The Skinner trade certainly helps him avoid Option: Leivo. (Read more on Zykov here)
Carolina Hurricanes prospect depth chart and fantasy upsides can be found here (not yet ready for mobile viewing, desktop only right now)
Fantasy Outlook – Carolina’s offense, which beat only eight teams in terms of goals scored last year, stands to make big strides this season thanks to a legitimate power-play quarterback in Hamilton. They do have several intriguing prospects who will step into the lineup very soon. As far as prospects that have fantasy interest go, this team is above average. However, they lack an appealing centerman (prove me wrong, Necas!) and their goaltending is…well, I don’t want to be unkind. Lots of potential with the forwards, but we need to see a true breakout from someone before we start coveting Carolina players on our fantasy squads.
Fantasy Grade: C+ (last year was C+)
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