Last week, I started a roster preview to see how the Hurricanes roster is looking for the 2018-2019 season! You can see my preview of the center position here, and now it’s time to look at the left wingers. The picture isn’t as clear as it was before Jeff Skinner was traded, but it’s going to be an interesting fight in training camp for the open spots on the left wing. As a reminder, I will have three categories for each position: the locks, the players on the bubble, and the longshots.
DISCLAIMER: If you think someone is missing, I probably just have them listed as a right winger.
– Valentin Zykov
Zykov was solid in his first NHL stint last season, and he is likely penciled into a top nine role for the upcoming season. He had chemistry playing alongside Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen last season, so it’s possible that they are given a chance early on to find that chemistry yet again. Zykov is big, has a good shot, and he has a hard nose for the net. That is exactly what the Hurricanes need. He’s not going to be a guy who blows you away with his stats, but he is going to be a valuable contributor. Zykov might not score as much as some seem to expect him to, but he’s going to create a lot more offense than the stats might show.
2017-2018 stats: 3 goals, 4 assists, 7 points (10 games)
2018-2019 projections: Zykov will push for 20 goals, and I think he’ll be right around 40 points as well. Jeff Skinner’s departure probably assures that Zykov will play on the left wing, although he could be listed as a right winger as well.
– Brock McGinn
Brock set career highs in goals, assists, and points in his first full NHL season last year. He was a valuable player for the Canes, and he spent most of his time in a top nine role. I really like the game that McGinn plays. He brings a lot more to the table than the score sheet shows. He is a guy who can single handedly energize a building, whether it’s with a big hit, a fight, or……… shooting it off the post? (Sorry, had to) That’s just his game. He brings a lot to the table, but I still think that McGinn’s skillset is better suited for a bottom six checking role. He’s likely locked himself up a spot on the roster, and he brings a lot of versatility to the now wide open fight for bottom six roles.
2017-2018 stats: 16 goals, 14 assists, 30 points
2018-2019 projections: If McGinn sticks on the fourth line, he is likely going to see regression in his point totals. But, I think he could start on a line with Jordan Staal and Justin Williams. If he did, McGinn would see more chances to put up points and will play more meaningful minutes. Either way, he’s a nice guy to have because of his ability to jump up and down a lineup.
– Micheal Ferland
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know a whole bunch about Ferland, but he appears to be a better version of McGinn. He’s a physical player who wins battles, is good on the PK, and can score goals. He scored 20 goals last season, and I think he would be a great fit playing next to someone like Jordan Staal or Andrei Svechnikov. Ferland could become a fan favorite very quickly.
2017-2018 stats: 21 goals, 20 assists, 41 points (with Calgary)
2018-2019 projections: I think that Ferland will again hit 20 goals and 40 points, and he could see an increase as well. He’s going to play valuable minutes for this team and he will hopefully be a big part of turning around last year’s subpar penalty kill.
– Jordan Martinook
Like Ferland, I just don’t know a whole bunch about Martinook. I believe that he is a relatively responsible two way player who is good on the PK. He will probably be a fourth liner or extra forward on the Hurricanes, but it’s important to note that he can take faceoffs as well. I think that Martinook likely makes the opening night lineup on the fourth line.
2017-2018 stats: 6 goals, 9 assists, 15 points
2018-2019 projections: I’m not expecting much stats wise from Martinook, but like Ferland, I think that Martinook could play a big role in turning around the penalty kill. He won’t have a big role at even strength.
On the Bubble:
– Warren Foegele
Foegele was impressive in his limited NHL time last season, and he’s going to be a tough guy to deny a roster spot. The kid just wins battles. And he has a nose for the net. I really like the game that Foegele plays, but another year in the AHL could be beneficial for him. The departure of Skinner opens up a spot on the wing for a guy like Foegele in the bottom six, but he will still need to have a strong camp due to the number of guys looking to crack the roster. Personally, I think that Foegele will end up being on the NHL roster on opening night playing on the fourth line.
– Phil Di Giuseppe
Di Giuseppe was non-tendered as a RFA, but quickly re-signed with the Hurricanes this offseason. He is a good depth guy to have around. I think that the Canes would rather have someone like PDG sitting in the press box over someone like Foegele, so PDG has a decent shot at cracking the roster as the extra forward. He is capable of being a solid NHL player when he is put in the right situation, but it’s still a tough group of forwards for him to beat out.
– Janne Kuokkanen
Kuokkanen could become a dangerous NHL player, but is he going to get the chance to do so in Raleigh? For now, he will likely stick in the AHL with the Checkers and play a key role for them. He could eventually be a potential sweetener in a trade (maybe one to offload Rask?), but that likely doesn’t happen yet. I like Kuokk a lot, and I think he has a chance to make this team. He brings offense to the table and that’s exactly what the team needs. I could see a scenario that leaves Kuokk on the NHL roster, bumps McGinn to the fourth line, and gives Kuokk a chance to prove he belongs. It’s still a longshot, but it’s possible.
– Aleksi Saarela
Saarela is a special offensive talent, but he’s got some work to do if he wants to play in the NHL. He needs to get a lot stronger, improve his defensive play, and prove that he can stay on the ice over the course of a full professional season. Despite the question marks, he is the type of player who could come in and have a strong training camp and force the team to keep him around. The team needs offense and that’s what Saarela provides. If injuries hit the team early on, Saarela could potentially get his chance.
Trading Jeff Skinner blows things wide open on the left wing. The Canes now only have one true proven NHL player at the position in Ferland, and then there are a bunch of questions. Does Sebastian Aho delay the move to center and remain on the left wing? It’s possible. Either way, training camp is going to be fun to follow. Stay tuned for my next roster preview, looking at right wingers!