As their Twitter slogan would suggest, take warning, hockey fans! The last few seasons have seen the Carolina Hurricanes take some tremendous strides both on and off the ice under the leadership and tutelage of head coach Rod Brind’Amour. The Canes are an up-and-coming franchise with a plethora of young talent at their disposal. Let’s read on and meet some of the main catalysts in the storm surge and what this team has in store as we head towards 2020-21.
Finnish-born centerman Aho starts us off as one of the best young forwards in the National Hockey League. At the tender age of 23, Aho has firmly established himself as “must-see TV” with his superior smarts, skating ability, hands, and puck skills. Last season, Aho popped a whopping 28 goals and 66 points in just 68 games played. In the playoffs, Aho added an additional three goals and 12 points in just nine games. He’s exciting, electrifying, dynamic, and just a real raw talent that’s only going to get better. As we look ahead to the 2020-21 campaign, Aho is certainly a player to keep your eye on. I can watch this kid play all day-he’s that special.
Next up is Andrei “highlight-reel” Svechnikov, who along with Aho, form one of the most lethal one-two punches in the NHL. Man, oh man, do the Canes have themselves a player in “Svech”. At 20 years of age, “Svech” has quickly developed into one of the most explosive young wingers in the game. He’s confident, brimming with flair with the puck on his stick, and just loves to make things happen. The 2019-20 campaign saw him score 24 goals and 61 points, and all indications are that another 20+ goal season is definitely in the cards. When you think of the youthful exuberance in Carolina, Svechnikov certainly comes to mind. This guy really is the real deal.
Fresh off a two-year, $2.6 million contract extension, Fleury makes this list as yet another stud on the Hurricanes blue-line. The last few seasons have seen been very positive for Fleury who continues to make significant strides in his development as an everyday, impactful player at the NHL level. During 45 regular-season games last year, Fleury scored four goals and 14 points in just 13:40 worth of ice time. In the Stanley Cup playoffs, however, his ice-time jumped to 16:40. In terms of his skillset, Fleury is a dynamic defenseman. He’s fast, skilled, good with the puck, reads the game at a high level, and is just oozing with potential. It’s a small sample size, yes, but the Canes have an important piece in front of them in the form of Fleury. That deal is an absolute steal for Carolina’s front office.
Savin has quickly developed into one of the game’s most underrated defenders and the crown jewel on a deep and talented blue-line in Raleigh. At 26 years of age the Erie, Colorado native is one of the United States’ top hockey products and a real force to be reckoned with. As a player, Slavin is strong on his feet, confident, can skate like a greyhound, and is a solid force in all three zones. He has eclipsed the 30-point plateau in four-consecutive seasons and has emerged as a true leader both on and off the ice under Brind’Amour. At 6’3, 208 pounds, Slavin can do it all and is a key cog in on one of the league’s most exciting young teams. The future is very bright in Carolina, and Slavin is a big part of it.
The last few seasons have seen the Hurricanes build a formidable prospect pool. At the head of that pool is defenseman Bean. At the tender age of 22, and for a player who’s widely regarded as one of the league’s top prospects, Bean should be given every opportunity to crack the top-six in Raleigh in camp. He’s shifty, poised, and uses his high hockey-IQ and elite skill set to make his presence felt on each and every shift. His positioning is solid, and he is excellent in transition. I’m excited to see this kid play the NHL level and believe the Canes have yet another weapon at their disposal after the likes of Slavin, Fleury, Hamilton, and Pesce. That’s some defense corps, wouldn’t you say?
There’s a new kid on the block in Raleigh. Jarvis, the King of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. Selected in the first round, 13th overall at last month’s 2020 NHL Entry Draft, Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell was ecstatic when Jarvis was still available at 13. Jarvis can be described as an on-ice wizard and elite playmaker. This past season in Portland, saw him tally 42 goals, 56 assists, and 98 points in a (pandemic-shortened) 58-game season in the Western Hockey League. Blessed with superior passing and shooting skills, Jarvis plays a confident, high-octane game that will place him in good stead with the rest of the (youthful) band in Carolina. Buckle your seatbelts folks, the Jarvis train is about to leave the station.
Markham, Ontario native Foegele is one of those players who you just love to have on your team. At 24 years of age, and listed at 6’2, 200 pounds, he’s the prototypical middle-six player who excels at so many different aspects of the game. Last season, Foegele set new career-highs in goals (13), assists (17), points (30), shots (129), and average time on ice (13:43) across 68 games. He’s a solid player who continues to improve and evolve his game. I love watching him play because he enjoys the game, is an excellent teammate, and so multi-faceted. On a team filled with a plethora of young talent, Warren Foegele is an excellent complimentary piece. Watch out for him and the Canes as we (hopefully) look towards the start of the 2020-21 NHL campaign.
Honorable Mentions: Jamieson Rees, Dominik Bokk, Ryan, Suzuki, Morgan Geekie.