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NHL - Carolina Hurricanes 2018-19 season preview, rankings, projections, bold predictions, playoff chances

ESPN.com | Updated: 2018-09-28 00:02:50

With the 2018-19 season fast approaching, we're running snapshots of all 31 NHL teams, including point total projections, positional previews, best- and worst-case scenarios, and more.

For the Carolina Hurricanes, Rod Brind'Amour takes over behind the bench, with big changes in the lineup as well. How will it all work out?


How they finished in 2017-18: 36-35-11 (83 points), finished 21st in NHL, 6th in Metropolitan Division

Once again, everyone's favorite preseason Cinderella came crashing down to earth. After missing the postseason for a ninth-straight season (longest drought in the league), the Hurricanes parted ways with coach Bill Peters and demoted GM Ron Francis.

Over/under projected point total (per the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook): 85.5

Best-case scenario: Scott Darling has the comeback season of all comeback seasons, giving Carolina their first starting goalie with a save percentage north of .910 since 2011-12.

Worst-case scenario: Scott Darling is just as shaky as last season; buyer's remorse amplifies in the second year of his four-year deal.

Forward overview: Gone is Jeff Skinner, a consistent 20- to 30-goal scorer. In is top draft pick Andrei Svechnikov and AHL sensation Valentin Zykov. They join a group of otherwise uninspiring forwards. NHL rank: 26th

Defense overview: The Canes boast the league's most dynamic young group of blueliners. Newcomers Calvin de Haan and Dougie Hamilton supplement a group with established talent (Justin Faulk) and promising future stars (Brett Pesce). NHL rank: 8th

Goalie overview: Year one of the Scott Darling experiment was a bust. Entering year two of his four-year, $16.6 million contract, the former Chicago backup needs to prove he's in shape -- and shake off last season, when he posted the worst save percentage of any qualifying goalie in the league. NHL rank: 31st

Special teams: They had one of the league's worst penalty kills (77.5 percent) and power plays (18.4 percent) last season. Hamilton might be able to help the power play; six of his 17 goals last season were with the man advantage.

Pipeline overview: The strength of this system rests in the top two prospects, with both Svechnikov and Martin Necas possessing the ability to transform Carolina's forward group. Throw in another "A" prospect in the form of recently acquired Adam Fox, and a cadre of players who took big steps in the AHL last season, and you have a nice foundation to start this new era for Carolina. Read more -- Chris Peters

Fantasy nugget: Hamilton should be the Hurricanes' top defensive go-to and get every chance to run the power play, either with Faulk as a partner or without him. Hamilton should make the move into D1 territory this season and may even crack the top 50 fantasy assets. Read more -- Sean Allen

Coach on the hot seat? Rookie head coach Rod Brind'Amour will try to set a different tone. The budget-conscious Canes promoted Brind'Amour in part because he was already on the payroll, so his status is quite comfortable for now.

Bold prediction: Brind'Amour proves he's more than just Rod the Bod, transforming the Canes into a tough team to play against (something they were not last season). We'll forget about his corny schtick of labeling training camp groups team "Grit" and team "Grind" as he's nominated for a Jack Adams award.

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