14. Jesper Fast
Fast and the Canes checking line is a match made in heaven. Jesper has been incredible in his mostly defensive role and his line has probably been the most consistent one the team has had this year. Fast just always seems to be in the right place at the right time, and the Canes’ bottom 6 wouldn’t be nearly as strong without him.
13. Martin Necas
It’s fair to say Necas had a disappointing season. It is also fair to point out that Martin is only 23 and still has a ton of time to develop. The problem for Necas was he never really found a place in the lineup. Martin played on literally every line and never really stuck anywhere, and we only got to see the game-breaking ability he showed us last year a few times.
There are a good amount of people who want to trade Necas already but think that would be a very bad idea. I strongly believe Necas’ breakout is on the horizon, we just have to continue to be patient.
12. Brett Pesce
Pesce had quietly been a great top 4 defenseman and played a major part in the Canes’ league-best penalty kill. In a surprising twist though, Pesce has arguably been weaker defensively and stronger offensively than he usually is. His pairing is the epitome of Hurricanes hockey, with a lot of chances for both teams whenever they are on the ice.
Even if it wasn’t his best season, a worse than usual Pesce season is still very good. Brett is a core piece of the Hurricanes’ top 4 who brings high-level play year in and year out. Pesce is probably the most underappreciated defenseman on the team and has been for a few years now.
11. Jordan Staal
Wow, talk about a tale of two seasons. The captain struggled to get on the scoresheet for the first half of the year, going over 3 months without a goal from late October to early February. Since the all-star break, Jordan has been an entirely different player, scoring 23 points in 34 games, which is 4th best on the team during that time.
All 23 of his points from February 6th to now have been at even strength, and that leads the team. His 14 goals in his last 34 games are second on the team, all while his defensive game has improved throughout this season. Staal has shown that he can still go during these last two months, and the team will need him to continue this production into the playoffs.
10. Brady Skjei
2022 has been the year of Brady. Since the start of the calendar year, Brady has 27 points in 47 games, all of which are at even strength. Only 3 defensemen in the entire NHL have more EVP since January 1st.
Beyond that, though Brady’s defense has also been very solid aside from a few classic Skjei hiccups. He and Pesce have been one of the best offensive-defensive pairings in the league this season as they’ve built on their chemistry from last season.
9. Seth Jarvis
The rookie looked extremely comfortable starting his NHL career. Jarvis had the usual rookie slump while adjusting to this level in the middle of the year, but he has emerged yet again to contribute to this team. Not only that, he’s been playing first-line minutes and excelling for the team.
It is weird to think that he wasn’t on the opening night roster considering how crucial he has been to the team dynamic this year. Seth likely won’t be a Calder candidate but it can’t be understated how important he was to the team’s success so far this year.
8. Vincent Trocheck
“Vinny” relished last year in his role as second-line center, and although he hasn’t had quite the same success this year, he has yet again been a big contributor to the team. A 20-goal, 50-point season is very solid and I don’t think anybody has complaints regarding how Trocheck has played this year.
Just an extremely good 2-way second-line center who is looking for a big pay raise this offseason. Since his trade from Florida in 2020, he has seemed to be the missing puzzle piece for the Canes’ center depth and he will be sorely missed next season.
7. Nino Niederreiter
Nino is a top-6 forward who is playing on the third line and absolutely dominating his competition. Alongside Jordan Staal and Jesper Fast for most of the season, Nino has yet another great season as a Hurricanes under his belt. 23 goals on the season while being underrated defensively in a checking role is the perfect place for Niederreiter.
It feels like every goal Nino has scored this year has been a big one. His combination of natural skill and big size makes him a true modern-day power forward. Hopefully, Don Waddell and the front office can find a way to retain his services next season.
6. Tony DeAngelo
Tony was brought in to replace Dougie Hamilton’s offensive production, and he has done that quite well. Although the defensive lapses that plagued him in New York are still there, playing alongside one of the best defensemen in the league has helped make that less obvious. It’ll be interesting to see what his next contract will be as he is in line to get a big upgrade from his current 1 million dollar contract.