January 24, 2013; Raleigh, NC, USA; Carolina Hurricanes winger Jeff Skinner (53) celebrates his 2nd period goal against the Buffalo Sabres at the PNC center. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
1st Line: Jeff Skinner
2nd Line: Jiri Tlusty
3rd Line: Zach Boychuk
4th Line: Brad Malone
Missed the Cut: Chris Terry, Brock McGinn
On paper, the left winger on the Carolina Hurricanes should be steady, but there are a few big question marks here.
Jeff Skinner is going to be a massive part of this year’s team. Bill Peters said that he wants the 22-year-old to be a 40-goal scorer. Jeff Skinner scored 33 goals in 71 games last season, so those expectations are not outrageous.
Skinner’s success will also depend on the play of his centerman. I expect that man to be Eric Staal. So, once again, Eric Staal needs to have a big bounce back season for the Carolina Hurricanes.
Jiri Tlusty struggled for much of the 2013-2014 season. He couldn’t live up to the high expectations set for him following his 23-goal campaign during the 2013 lockout shortened season.
That being said, he did tally 30 points (16 goals) in 68 games last year. He really picked up his game during the second half of the season. He developed good chemistry with Jordan Staal and Alexander Semin on the second line. He should be a reliable two-way forward next season who can put goals on the board by driving the net.
Zach Boychuk has a lot to prove this season. After years in the American Hockey League with the Checkers, he will likely get every chance to succeed under Bill Peters and the new coaching staff.
I have always believed that the criticism put on Boychuk has been a bit unjust at times. If Zach Boychuk can translate his goal scoring prowess to the NHL, he will be incredibly dangerous.
Brad Malone needs to be a reliable fourth-liner and nothing more. He needs to be a solid physical and defensive presence. If he does that, the Canes’ fourth-line will be much better.
Brock McGinn probably deserves a roster spot with the Carolina Hurricanes, but he needs to be in a top-nine role and he just isn’t good enough yet for that. He needs playing time, so it is better for him to get a big role with the Charlotte Checkers than get a miniscule role with the Carolina Hurricanes. I think he will see some NHL time next season though.
Chris Terry is the odd-man out here. He is a solid offensive presence, but there isn’t a real need for him at the NHL level. He will be a high-end player in the AHL and a good call-up option in case of injury. He also proved last season he is a dangerous shootout threat.