Heat Check: Revisiting 3 Hurricanes’ Hot Takes For 2022-23

We’re officially a third of the way through the 2022-23 season, so let’s take a look at my preseason hot takes for the Carolina Hurricanes and how they are panning out. Despite a plethora of injuries and a late November scoring slump, the Hurricanes find themselves atop the Metropolitan Division.

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It’s been a very unconventional journey to this point for the Hurricanes. With key injuries to Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen, and Frederik Andersen, they have leaned on depth and outstanding play from rookie goalie Pyotr Kochetkov to keep their Stanley Cup hopes alive.

Take 1: Frederik Andersen Sets Career High in Wins

After arguably a career-best season in 2021-22, I predicted that Andersen would pick up where he left off and set a career-high in wins this season. However, a lower leg injury has sidelined him since early November putting an early end to this hot take. Kochetkov has been outstanding in place of the injured Andersen, putting himself in the Calder Trophy conversation with a 10-1-4 record so far this season. He’s also near the top of the league in goals-against average and save percentage with 1.94 and .928, respectively.

My prediction for his 2022-23 season is 39 wins and a save percentage of .925-plus, which would put him squarely in contention for the Vezina Trophy.

3 Hurricanes Hot Takes for 2022-23 Season

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It will be interesting to see how Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour handles the goalie situation when Andersen returns to full health. I personally would ride the hot hand with Kochetkov, as he’s got all the confidence in the world right now. If he falters at any point Andersen and Antti Raanta offer a variety of playoff experience and have both shown the ability to play at a high level when healthy.

Take 2: Martin Necas Has Breakout Season, Finishes With 60-Plus Points

At the time of writing the initial piece, this was the take I had the least amount of confidence in, but it appears to be the only one I’m going to get correct. Martin Necas has been spectacular to this point of the season. Through 32 games played he leads the Hurricanes with 30 points (13 goals and 17 assists). Necas has also kept the offense rolling early this season amidst key injuries to Aho and Teravainen.

Martin Necas Carolina Hurricanes
Martin Necas, Carolina Hurricanes (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

I believe Necas will make a major jump this season and set career-highs offensively in a breakout season for the 23-year-old Czech forward. Whether he excels on the wing of the second-line or as the center, I believe he is destined for a career year if he plays at the level he’s capable of. Necas has an extremely high ceiling thanks to his electric speed and impressive finishing ability. I’m predicting a career-high in goals and points this season for him, with 26 and 63 respectively.

3 Hurricanes Hot Takes for 2022-23 Season

If Necas continues this consistent high level of play throughout the season he’s going to crush his career-best numbers, and should easily eclipse the 60-point mark for the first time in his young career. The decision to re-sign him has proven to be one of the best from Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell and company.

Take 3: Jack Drury Will Provide Immediate Production

I was very confident in this take back in August. The Jack Drury hype had reached unprecedented levels after he helped lead the Chicago Wolves on their 2021-22 Calder Cup run. As such, I expected him to continue the success he flashed in 2021-22 in his brief time with Carolina and provide some key production on the fourth line throughout this season. However, in 20 games played Drury has yet to find the back of the net and only has two assists so far.

I’m predicting Drury to get off to a solid start in his NHL career with 15-plus goals in 2022-23. If he can provide this level of immediate production I wouldn’t be surprised if we see him competing for time on the second line within a couple of years.

3 Hurricanes Hot Takes for 2022-23 Season

Drury has time to turn it around and become a key contributor for the Hurricanes on the fourth line, but unless something changes quickly this take appears to have fallen short.

Can the Hurricanes Stay Hot?

While most analysts and fans probably aren’t shocked to see the Hurricanes atop the Metropolitan Division standings as we approach the new year, it is a little surprising given the recipe they’ve used to get to this point. Andersen has been out since early November, Aho and Teravainen have both missed multiple weeks of action, and key addition Max Pacioretty is a few weeks away from being available, but still, this team continues to find ways to win.

One interesting development to follow over the next few weeks will be how Brind’Amour chooses to handle the goalie situation with Andersen nearing a return. I am also intrigued to see how he handles the addition of Pacioretty in the coming weeks and the different lineups that result from his debut. While there’s no doubt that he is an upgrade for the Hurricanes, you have to be careful not to mess up a good thing and right now they are firing on all cylinders behind the unbelievable play of Kochetkov. If they can keep this level of play up and avoid any major injuries down the stretch, they should be in a great position to make another run at the Stanley Cup.

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