The forward core
I will build a potential lineup below. If you are new to Cardiac Cane, every name below is hyperlinked to Hockey Reference if you wish to check out stats or anything about the player. If we go with some of the line combinations we’ve seen in preseason, the lineup could look like this:
Andrei Svechnikov – Sebastian Aho – Martin Necas
Jesperi Kotkaniemi – Vincent Trocheck – Teuvo Teravainen
Nino Niederreiter – Jordan Staal – Jesper Fast
Steven Lorentz – Derek Stepan – Jordan Martinook
As far as the forward lineups around the NHL stack up, this is certainly among the best of them. With the talent on every line and the best center depth in the NHL, this Canes lineup is incredible. Kotkaniemi is the only true question in the top six, and even then Niederreiter can step in and do a good job. Staal and Fast can run a true shutdown line with either Kotkaniemi or Nino. Lorentz and Martinook will provide a great forechecking base on the fourth line.
Andrei Svechnikov is already viewed as one of the best young wingers in the NHL, but last season was not too great for him. If he takes that step we all know that he is capable of, then we could very much see that top line explode for the Hurricanes. Svechnikov has the ability to hit triple digits with his point totals, and with a new deal, we’ll see if the removal of pressure helps him.
Aho is only a year removed from a 40 goal pace year. He’s going to put the puck in the net, he always does. It’s a tale as old as time. Aho struggles in October and then explodes after that. He almost has to get warmed up to the NHL level again before he can fully dominate like we’ve seen him do time and time again for the Carolina Hurricanes.
Teuvo Teravainen is coming off a year where he missed a lot of time due to injury and COVID-19. Normally a point per game winger, Teravainen likely will lose his place on the top line to start the season. Obviously, Carolina will always have the option to reinstate him on the Svechnikov – Aho – Teravainen line that has dominated the NHL for 2 years now. But Teravainen will have a lot to prove this year.
Vincent Trocheck is playing for a contract. He’s an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year. He’s got the ability to put up major numbers when he wants money. As a member of the Florida Panthers, he put up 76 points in a season. We’ll see what he can do with some improved linemates this year (with all due respect to Nino Niederreiter).
Speaking of Nino, he’s also out of contract at the end of the year. He’s playing for his future in Carolina or a major payday elsewhere. His $5.25 million is already viewed as being a little high, but he could prove himself to a lot of organizations this year that would be willing to fork out large money for the winger.
And the most exciting story to me for this forward core is KK. Free from Montreal and given time to develop properly out of the shadows of Montreal and with a genuinely fantastic center core to play alongside, Kotkaniemi is playing this year to prove the entire province of Quebec wrong about him.
There’s so much to like about this forward core. With the questions surrounding it, and the storylines that are always developing. This year’s collection seems to be particularly riddled with narratives and options. I cannot wait to see what comes of this forward group with the regular season only 8 days away as I’m writing this.