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NHL Team Previews: Examining past, present, future

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Throughout the month of August we examined different aspects of all 31 NHL teams. We looked back at their 2017-18 season, took a dip in their prospect pool, pointed out a player/coach/executive under pressure, highlighted a player coming off a breakthrough season, and asked questions about the future.

Thanks for reading and for the feedback on each post. Below are links to every team day post from the last month to get you ready for the 2018-19 campaign. Training camps open in two weeks!

2017-18 REVIEW
Anaheim Ducks
Arizona Coyotes
Boston Bruins
Buffalo Sabres
Calgary Flames
Carolina Hurricanes
Chicago Blackhawks 
Colorado Avalanche
Columbus Blue Jackets
Dallas Stars
Detroit Red Wings
Edmonton Oilers
Florida Panthers
Los Angeles Kings
Minnesota Wild
Montreal Canadiens
Nashville Predators
New Jersey Devils
New York Islanders
New York Rangers
Ottawa Senators
Philadelphia Flyers
Pittsburgh Penguins
San Jose Sharks
St. Louis Blues
Tampa Bay Lightning
Toronto Maple Leafs
Vancouver Canucks
Vegas Golden Knights
Washington Capitals
Winnipeg Jets

UNDER PRESSURE
Jake Allen
Mike Babcock
Jim Benning
Bruce Boudreau
Scott Darling
Pierre Dorion
John Gibson
Connor Hellebuyck
Mike Hoffman

Carter Hutton
Jack Johnson
Evander Kane

Jarmo Kekalainen
Ilya Kovalchuk
Dylan Larkin
Robin Lehner
Nathan MacKinnon
Joel Quenneville
Carey Price
Antti Raanta
Tuukka Rask
Todd Reirden
Pekka Rinne
Cory Schneider
Tyler Seguin
Kevin Shattenkirk
Cam Talbot
Tomas Tatar
Brad Treliving
James van Riemsdyk
Steve Yzerman

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BUILDING OFF A BREAKTHROUGH
Mathew Barzal
Brock Boeser
Pavel Buchnevich
Thomas Chabot
Kyle Connor
Evgenii Dadonov

Alex DeBrincat
Jake DeBrusk
Travis Dermott
Pierre-Luc Dubois
Matt Dumba

Vince Dunn
Radek Faksa
Kevin Fiala

Brendan Gallagher
Noah Hanifin
Nico Hischier
William Karlsson
Ondrej Kase
Clayton Keller
Adrian Kempe
Travis Konecny
Anthony Mantha
Timo Meier
Darnell Nurse
Jamie Oleksiak
Brayden Point
Mikko Rantanen
Sam Reinhart
Teuvo Teravainen
Tom Wilson

THREE QUESTIONS
Anaheim Ducks
Arizona Coyotes
Boston Bruins
Buffalo Sabres
Calgary Flames
Carolina Hurricanes
Chicago Blackhawks
Colorado Avalanche
Columbus Blue Jackets
Dallas Stars
Detroit Red Wings
Edmonton Oilers
Florida Panthers
Los Angeles Kings
Minnesota Wild
Montreal Canadiens
Nashville Predators
New Jersey Devils
New York Islanders
New York Rangers
Ottawa Senators
Philadelphia Flyers
Pittsburgh Penguins
San Jose Sharks
St. Louis Blues
Tampa Bay Lightning
Toronto Maple Leafs
Vancouver Canucks
Vegas Golden Knights
Washington Capitals
Winnipeg Jets

MORE:
Where should Jonathan Toews rank among NHL’s top centers?
Q&A: Colorado Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar
Back issue makes Henrik Zetterberg’s future ‘real unknown’
Panthers do one thing about as well as anyone in the NHL
Expect huge year from Max Pacioretty no matter where he plays
Rangers could once again be active in trade market
Will Sidney Crosby win another scoring title in his career?
Sabres’ Eichel focuses on keeping fiery emotions in check
• Maple Leafs should be NHL’s best offensive team

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

PHT Morning Skate: Seguin’s future; Pacioretty on ‘horrible’ season

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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

Jamie Benn and Snoop Dogg are now BFFs. 

• If Tyler Seguin doesn’t sign a long-term extension with the Dallas Stars and becomes available, would a reunion in Boston make sense? [NBC Boston]

• Brady Tkachuk officially signed his ELC on Monday. Where does he see his future? “I think it’s with Ottawa and in the NHL. I think I’m physically ready and mentally ready for the grind. I think I’m definitely ready and I’m going to get better as the year goes on.” [Ottawa Citizen]

• Despite all the trade rumors, Max Pacioretty is ready to return to the Montreal Canadiens after a ‘horrible’ season. [Sportsnet]

• The four options, per IIHF president Rene Fasel, for the 2022 Winter Olympics: The NHL and NHLPA agree to send players; use a similar setup as Pyeongchang 2018; use under-23 players; no hockey at all in Beijing. [Inside the Games]

• Bill Foley on the Vegas Golden Knights’ off-season and what he wants to do with the team’s pre-game intro next season. [Las Vegas Sun]

• Why bright futures are ahead for both Kyle Connor and Jack Roslovic. [TSN]

• Is it time for an NHL playoff format change? [Pensburgh]

• Why January 1, 2019 is a very important date for Jacob Trouba, Mark Stone, William Karlsson, Kevin Hayes, and Brock Nelson. [The Hockey News]

• The fans have spoken an the Vancouver Canucks will be wearing the electric skate jerseys a handful of times during their 50th anniversary season in 2019-20. [Canucks]

• Can the New York Rangers win if they don’t have elite talent sprinkled on their roster? [Blue Seat Blogs]

• How does the current Toronto Maple Leafs blue line compare to that of the defending Stanley Cup champions? [Leafs Nation]

• Why Ryan Johansen deserves your respect. [Predlines]

• How Todd Reirden’s staff in Washington will aid him as head coach of the Capitals. [Stars and Sticks]

• The Minnesota Wild and the NWHL’s Minnesota Whitecaps are teaming up. [NWHL]

Zach Aston-Reese is healthy and confident heading into the season with the Pittsburgh Penguins. [NHL.com]

• Would it make sense for the New Jersey Devils to take on a bad contract if there’s a decent sweetner involved? [Pucks and Pitchforks]

• Could Shawn Matthias be heading to Switzerland? [Swiss Hockey News]

• Hey, Teuvo Teravainen… not bad, kid:

Three questions facing Carolina Hurricanes

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Each day in the month of August we’ll be examining a different NHL team — from looking back at last season to discussing a player under pressure to focusing on a player coming off a breakthrough year to asking questions about the future. Today we look at the Carolina Hurricanes.

For more on the Hurricanes’ outlook for 2018-19…

[Looking back to 2017-18 | Under Pressure | Building off breakthrough]

1. Who is going to score the goals?

While so much gets made of the Hurricanes’ goaltending issues over the years they have also had a problem when it comes to putting the puck in their opponent’s net, having finished in the bottom-10 in goals scored in each of the past five seasons.

Then this offseason they finally traded the best pure goal-scorer on the roster (Jeff Skinner) without any proven NHL goal-scorers coming back in return to replace him in the lineup.

Could be a problem.

The Hurricanes do have some nice young talent led by Teuvo Teravainen, Victor Rask, and the outstanding and underrated Sebastian Aho, as well as some really good two-way veterans in Jordan Staal and Justin Williams. Despite that crop of forwards, they are still lacking a go-to difference-maker that could be a franchise changing player at forward.

They are hoping they have found that at the top of the draft in No. 2 overall pick Andrei Svechnikov, a monster of a prospect with superstar potential.

Along with Svechnikov, they also have 23-year-old forward Valentin Zykov who is coming off of a great year in the American Hockey League (33 goals in 63 games) and a strong first impression with the big club, recording seven points (including three goals) in 10 games.

How good Svechnikov and Zykov can be — and how quickly they can make an impact — will go a long way toward determining how good the Hurricanes’ offense can be.

They could also probably use a bounce back year from Rask after his production regressed a bit this past season.

2. Will Justin Faulk finish the season in Carolina?

With Skinner traded to the Buffalo Sabres, all eyes are now focussed on defenseman Justin Faulk when it comes to potential trades. Faulk’s name has been thrown around in trade speculation for more than a year now, and the offseason additions of Dougie Hamilton and Calvin de Haan only seemed to increase that.

Given his ability offensive he could be an attractive trade chip for teams looking to add some firepower to their blue line, and perhaps be used to help the Hurricanes deal from a position of strength (defense) to address their shortcomings offensively.

Or they could keep him and continue to build on what is already an outstanding young defense.

3. Did the Hurricanes do enough to end their playoff drought?

Even after losing Skinner in a trade to the Sabres there is still reason to believe the Hurricanes improved their outlook for the upcoming season.

The defense is significantly better with the additions of Hamilton and de Haan. It would be almost impossible for Scott Darling to be worse than he was a year ago so they should get some improvement there almost by default. Svechnikov and Zykov are unproven, but their potential is exciting.

Still, is that enough to end what is currently a nine-year playoff drought before it reaches a full decade without a single postseason game being played by the organization? Especially in a division that has the past three Stanley Cup champions and both Eastern Conference wild card teams from this past season? And especially after we seem to try and convince ourselves every summer that this season is the one where they finally they did enough to get back in the playoffs?

One of these years it has to happen … right?!

They need to make up a 14-point gap in the standings from this past season to do it, and while that is not going to be an easy task, it is also definitely not impossible. Especially if they can get adequate goaltending from Darling to fully take advantage of the young, talented defense they have assembled over the years and get a couple of breakthrough offensive performances from their prized prospects Svechnikov and Zykov.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Under Pressure: Scott Darling

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Each day in the month of August we’ll be examining a different NHL team — from looking back at last season to discussing a player under pressure to focusing on a player coming off a breakthrough year to asking questions about the future. Today we look at the Carolina Hurricanes.

So far in our team of the day series goalies have been a popular pick for the “under pressure” look, and honestly, that is probably very fitting. Goaltending can make or break a team’s season unlike any other position in the sport, and there is perhaps no team in the NHL that has come to know that more than the Carolina Hurricanes. Especially when it comes to the “break” part.

The Hurricanes have been trying to solve their goaltending issues for years, and it is a position that has probably done more to keep them out of the playoffs than any other on the team. They finally moved on from Cam Ward this offseason and will be sticking with Scott Darling as their likely starter. He might get a bit of a push from the newly signed Petr Mrazek, but make no mistake, this is probably going to be Darling’s spot to lose.

He still has a lot to prove.

[Looking back to 2017-18 | Building off breakthrough | Three Questions]

Darling arrived in Carolina prior to the 2017-18 season and immediately signed a four-year, $16 million contract. Year one with his new team — and his first as a player expected to help carry the workload over the course of a full season — turned out to be a complete disaster.  Among the 32 goalies to appear in at least 40 games his .888 save percentage was last in the NHL, and one of only two goalies (Craig Anderson being the other) to finish with a sub-.900 mark. His even-strength save percentage of .897 was also last, and the only goalie to finish below .900. Just speaking strictly from a numbers perspective, he was the least productive regular goaltender in the NHL.

Simply put, the Hurricanes need more from him, and given the additions the team made on the blue line in front of him there really can not be any excuses if his play does not improve.

The Hurricanes were already one of the best shot suppression teams in the league (and have been for several years) and only added to their blue line by acquiring Dougie Hamilton, one of the best defenseman in the league and a legitimate top-pairing playing, and signing Calvin de Haan in free agency away from the New York Islanders.

There also is not much of a safety net in place for the Hurricanes should Darling once again falter as his top backup is going to be Petr Mrazek. After a promising start to his career in Detroit, Mrazek’s play has badly regressed the past two years. Unless his career does a complete 180 upon his arrival in Carolina the Hurricanes’ success or failure is largely going to depend on what Darling can give them in net.

Given all of that there is no player in Carolina under more pressure for a big season than their starting goalie.

Related: Goaltending will once again make or break Hurricanes’ season

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Building off a breakthrough: Teuvo Teravainen

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Each day in the month of August we’ll be examining a different NHL team — from looking back at last season to discussing a player under pressure to focusing on a player coming off a breakthrough year to asking questions about the future. Today we look at the Carolina Hurricanes.

A career year in terms of production? Check.

The transformation into a bona fide first-line winger? Check.

A chemistry with fellow Finn Sebastian Aho that could form the basis for one of the league’s top lines for years to come? Check.

Teuvo Teravainen has checked off a lot of boxes since his arrival from the Chicago Blackhawks two summers ago. And after putting up 23 goals and 41 assists to eclipse his previous best point total by 22, Teravainen has taken another leap forward as one of the league’s premier wingers.

[Looking back to 2017-18 | Under Pressure | Three Questions]

Teravainen improved nearly everywhere last season, from scoring eight more goals to having 14 more assists to finding five more points on the power play and a 3.5 percent increase in his shooting percentage, which hovered over 12 percent. He surpassed his previous career-high point total in just 57 games last season.

The breakout season continued with nearly one goal for every 60 minutes played (0.93), 1.25 assists/60 and 2.18 points/60 while playing all 82 games.

His underlying numbers backed up the eye test with career bests in shot share at 56.43 percent, goals for percentage at 56.12 and high-danger goals-for percentage at 58.82.

This is all good news for the 24-year-old, who enters a contract year in 2018-19 and still a few years away from his prime.

Teravainen only received a modest bump in ice-time (39 seconds on average per game), so assuming he can handle more, there’s no reason to think Teravainen can’t become a point-per-game player this coming season, especially if the line with Aho and Valentin Zykov sticks together to start the season.

The trio was formed toward the end of last season and the results were juicy. The line combined for a shot share of 65.73 percent during their eight games together. They were simply dangerous and perhaps a sign of things to come if Aho’s move to center becomes permanent.

Aho and Teravainen were money together, with Teravainen assisting on 16 of Aho’s 29 goals and the latter assisting on 13 of the former’s 23. Perhaps linemates that play Fortnite together stay together?

Here’s some of that sweet (on-ice) chemistry:

It’s Teravainen’s improvement, coupled with Aho’s — and a bevy of young talented forwards in the system — that likely made Jeff Skinner expendable last week. There’s pressure on Teravainen and Aho now to make up for the hole left by that departure, but both have shown they can improve year after year, especially when playing together.

New head coach Rod Brind’Amour has a few decisions to make with his top line, but Teravainen being on it is not one of them. He should be a lock up top and, if his durability holds up, could eclipse the 70-point mark, if not more, by the end of next season.

It’s a good thing Carolina has plenty of cap room.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck