Canes Roster Preview: Right Wingers + Breakdown of Line Combinations

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After a little bit of a break, it’s now time for the right wing edition of my Hurricanes roster preview! If you missed them, you can see my center preview here, and my left wing preview here! As a reminder, I’ll go through the locks at RW, the players on the bubble, and then the longshots to make the roster. As a little bit of a bonus, since this is the final forward position of the preview, I’ll be previewing some potential line combinations at the end of this article! Let’s get into it.

The Locks

–          Justin Williams

Captain Willy. He is getting older, but Williams still brings a lot to the table. Williams is a solid two-way winger who brings valuable leadership on and off the ice. He is likely going to be the Hurricanes’ lone captain this season, and he is most likely going to play on the wing somewhere in the top nine. I would like to see him next to Jordan Staal, but I could also see him starting the season next to young rookie Martin Necas. His time in the NHL is getting close to the end, but he’s got enough left in the tank to lead this team back to the playoffs.

2017-2018 stats: 16 goals, 35 assists, 51 points

2018-2019 projections: Williams is likely set for a middle six role at RW. He’ll likely be in the 15-20 goal range yet again, and he should hover around 45-50 points again as well.

–          Andrei Svechnikov

The Canes finally got lucky and moved up in the draft lottery to have the chance to draft the clear best available offensive player. Svechnikov is a goal scorer, but the special thing about him is how sound his game is all around. He is responsible defensively, and he is good in all zones of the ice. A lot of young goal scorers tend to be lazy in their own end, but Svech isn’t. He is immediately going to play a key offensive role on the team, and in time he will prove to be exactly the player the Hurricanes have been asking for.

2017-2018 stats: N/A

2018-2019 projections: Svechnikov is the type of young player who can come in and score 30 goals right away. I am usually a little more hesitant to make those types of predictions with rookies, but I really believe that Svech is going to do it. We might see him in a bit of a sheltered role early on, but he’s going to force the team to play him in key opportunities if he plays well.

–          Teuvo Teravainen

Teravainen broke out last year alongside fellow Finnish player Sebastian Aho. He was consistently an offensive threat and his all around game improved significantly. I would say that over the entire course of the season, Teuvo was the most dangerous offensive player on the Hurricanes. I would like to see the Aho-Teravainen pairing stay together, as they should build off of their confidence from last season. Expect another big season from Teravainen, whether he’s playing with Aho or not.

2017-2018 stats: 23 goals, 41 assists, 64 points

2018-2019 projections: I expect Teuvo to be in the 20-25 point range yet again, but I expect his point total to be closer to 70. Despite losing Jeff Skinner, the team is adding some dynamic offensive talent. The powerplay should be improved, which will give Teuvo some more points as well. Part of me could also see a bit of a regression from Teravainen, but let’s hope not.

On the bubble:

–          Saku Maenalanen

Maenalanen is a big winger who could be a solid fourth liner on this team right away. However, the competition for bottom six spots is fairly crowded and he might not get the chance to play in the NHL right away. I’m not expecting much on the stat sheet either way this year.

Longshots:

–          Julien Gauthier

Gauthier had a little bit of a rough adjustment to the professional game, but he’s still got the potential to be special in the NHL. I really don’t see much of a chance for Gauthier to crack the NHL roster, but he’s one of the players who could blow the team away during training camp and force his way onto the roster for an extended look.

 

That’s all of the forwards! Now, let’s dive into some possibilities for the forward lines.

It’s obviously way too early to know exactly how the lineup will shake out, but that’s no fun, so we’ll look at some possibilities anyways! Also, remember that the numbering of the lines isn’t extremely important, it’s all about how the coaching staff deploys them.

I like the idea of the Canes rolling with pairs of forwards and filling in the rest of the spots from there. If this is the case, and assuming that Sebastian Aho and Martin Necas play center, I think we could see pairs of Aho-Teravainen, Staal and Williams, and Necas and Svechnikov.

Quite a few players could slot in next to the pair of Aho and Teravainen. Last season, Valentin Zykov found chemistry alongside the Finns, so he might get a shot to find that chemistry again this season. Micheal Ferland also spent some time in Calgary playing on the top lines, so he makes some sense in this spot as well. In the end, I’d like to see Zykov get another shot on this line, giving us a “first” line of Zykov-Aho-Teravainen.

I’ve said it before, but Jordan Staal is going to take a step forward offensively this year. The Canes could opt to go with the two veterans Staal and Williams as a pair, and if they did that I like a couple of players on the wing next to them. Ferland would probably be the most obvious choice, but Victor Rask could get a chance too. Rask should probably play on the wing as opposed to center while he tries to turn his game around, and putting him with two responsible two-way forwards could be the perfect scenario for him. I personally like Ferland in this spot more, but I can’t see the team putting Rask alongside two rookies. Also, Brock McGinn could get a shot here, and he probably should get one before Rask does. McGinn is a good two-way forward as well, and that could form a solid shutdown forward line. For now, I’m going to give McGinn the nod in this spot, but we’ll mess around with some other possibilities later on.

The third line will likely consist of Martin Necas and Andrei Svechnikov, both rookies. Those two players have a lot of offensive upside between them, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little hesitant of them playing together right away. I think Necas could struggle initially, and it might not hurt the team to shelter him a bit early on. Playing two players with one combined game of NHL experience and pushing them into a major offensive role is extremely risky. But, despite my concerns, the two could have a strong camp and force their way onto the same line. If that’s the case, Ferland makes a lot of sense in this spot. He scored 20 goals and 40 points last year and has played with top players in the past. He also brings a heavy and responsible game which would be a nice supplement to the rookies. We’ll roll with a line of Ferland-Necas-Svechnikov.

The fight for the fourth line is wide open. I initially had Brock McGinn on this line and Victor Rask on the second line, but I switched them around for now. That would leave Rask, Jordan Martinook, Phil Di Giuseppe, Maenalanen, Lucas Wallmark, Janne Kuokkanen, and plenty more fighting for three spots. I think that Wallmark will crack the roster, but mainly because he has to go through waivers to go back to the AHL. I’m not a huge fan of his game, but he could be fine as a fourth liner. Martinook will likely make the team, and I like his versatility. He could line up at center or either wing. Whether he’s an extra forward or in the lineup, I like having him around. Warren Foegele is an option here, but I think he’s better suited for a major role in the AHL and not a bottom line role in the NHL. For now, we’ll go with Rask-Wallmark-Martinook as our fourth line, and we’ll keep Di Giuseppe and Maenalanen as our extra forwards.

That would give us a lineup of:

Zykov-Aho-Teravainen

McGinn-Staal-Williams

Ferland-Necas-Svechnikov

Rask-Wallmark-Martinook

 

Now, I’m just going to play around a little bit and give one other lineup I could see happening:

Option 2:

Ferland-Aho-Svechnikov

McGinn/Rask-Staal-Teravainen

Zykov-Necas-Williams

McGinn/Rask-Martinook-Maenalanen

 

I could probably play around even more and come up with a bunch of line combinations, but I think we’ll focus more on that around training camp. Thanks for sticking around through the Hurricanes roster preview so far, and I’ll have the defense preview out as soon as possible!

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