After last night’s 3-0 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks, the Carolina Hurricanes find themselves in third place in the Metropolitan Division with 16 games played.
Just three points behind the division-leading New Jersey Devils and one point behind the New York Islanders with a game in hand.
The season has already had its ups and downs but has seemed more of a struggle compared to the success of last season.
In the salary-cap era of the NHL, a lot of things need to go your way to win a division and finish in the top two of the conference.
One thing is for sure, if you hand out a decent-sized contract to a player, you need the appropriate success to win hockey games. The Hurricanes are no different in this respect as they have limited cap space, being a Stanley Cup contender.
Secondary Scoring Struggles
The Hurricanes have been led by the explosive starts from Martin Necas and Andrei Svechnikov. Both players are over a point per game production.
Sebastian Aho has also started the season with just over a point-per-game production with 7 goals and ten assists.
What has been problematic to the start of the season is less production from forwards like Teuvo Teravainen and Jesperi Kotkaniemi.
Teravainen is now down to injury despite showing signs of life, but Kotkaniemi has not been productive or noticeable in the first 16 contests.
This will be something that needs to change if the Hurricanes are to contend for the division title and make a strong run in the playoffs.
The 22-year-old Finnish forward has tremendous skill and was taken 3rd overall in the 2018 NHL Draft for that very reason.
Throughout his brief NHL career, Kotkaniemi has shown signs of becoming a star. His biggest showcase was on the biggest stage in the playoffs for Montreal.
Scoring 8 points in 19 playoff games put Kotkaniemi on the map. This led to his offer sheet from Don Waddell and the Hurricanes.
In his first season in Carolina, it was evident that much more would come from the young forward. He scored 12 goals and 29 points in just 66 games.
The start of this season has not been ideal. In 16 games played, Kotkaniemi has just one goal and 3 points to show for it.
At the face-off dot, Kotkaniemi has fared well, but the difference maker needed has not appeared and it shows the limitations of this offense without it.
If the move to sign Kotkaniemi was worth it, the player will need to start producing with consistency or the team will fall further into cap trouble.