Carolina Hurricanes and the Dreaded Sophomore Slump


It is no secret that the Carolina Hurricanes have a very young and inexperienced team. The youth of the team is a reason for excitement and to believe that the team is trending in the right direction.

Almost every NHL publication writes about the teams youth and promise of the team. However, the other side of having a young team is the inexperience and rawness of the team. While expectations rise performance can stay stay the same or dip.

This common second year dip is often called the sophomore slump. With so many young players the Carolina Hurricanes are likely to have someone experience a dip, but who is the most likely?

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The defense is made up of young players with five defensemen being under the age of 25. Unfortunately for the defensemen their mistakes are often the most the most visible. Due to the amount of young defensemen and the nature of the position it is likely that one of these players will be likely to experience a drop in play.

Noah Hanifin

The most notable defenseman of the bunch is Noah Hanifin. Hanifin was the Carolina Hurricanes top pick in the 2015 entry draft, immediately made the NHL roster out of camp. His vision and skating speed gave him a spot in the top four.

Hanifin didn’t blow anyone away with his production last season, over 79 games he registered 4 goals and 18 assists. However, for most of the season he was playing on the top pairing with Justin Faulk seeing opponents top talent.

The fact he wasn’t being undressed by opposing teams is a huge win in itself. He has been able to maintain a spot on the roster through his positioning and defensive abilities.

Where he will begin to develop further is his offensive abilities. Next year he should see an improvement in his scoring while he maintains and improves his defensive performance.

Brett Pesce

Brett Pesce started his season with the Checkers, but quickly made a name for himself at the NHL level. In his rookie season Pesce played in 69 games and scored 4 goals and 12 assists, just four points shy of Hanifin.

Pesce’s strength was his shot suppression abilities, his shot suppression was the highest out of the three rookie defensemen. Though he didn’t generate too many shots he was responsible defensively and did not stand out as a liability.

Often with rookie defensemen, simply not being a liability is a success. Pesce was able to take that to another level by having the highest shot suppression on the team. The only player that was close was Ron Hainsey.

Much like with Hanifin, Pesce’s defensive abilities should only get better. With an additional year the game will slow down and he will be able to react better to the speed of the NHL game.

Jaccob Slavin

The last of the Carolina Hurricanes rookie defensemen from last season is Jaccob Slavin. Slavin, who was a 4th round pick in 2012, was the least experienced of the young defensemen last season.

Slavin played a significant role at the NHL level last year by playing 63 games. The first year defensemen finished middle of the road for the young defensemen in points with 2 goals and 18 assists for 20 total points.

Slavin’s best strength was his ability to generate offense, his shot generation numbers were high for a first year player. His largest weakness was his shot suppression and defense. This unfortunately is the toughest part to improve.

Offensive generation can be a lot easier to produce at the NHL level because a player simply needs to fire pucks at the net to generate offense. The subtitles and challenges at the defensive position come down to positioning and skating.

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Though any drop in the Carolina Hurricanes young defensemen is unlikely and unwanted, it is possible. Slavin is the most likely to see a drop in overall performance due to having the weakest defensive play out of the three rookies.