The current captain for the Carolina Hurricanes is Jordan Staal, and after being given a four-year contract extension, it will remain that way. However, with him creeping up in age, the time will come for the torch to be passed. It does not have to be the best player on the roster to wear the “C”, but the right player to lead the way. Two current players on the Hurricanes roster would be captain material and should succeed Staal.
There is no better choice for this honor than Sebastian Aho. He signed an eight-year contract extension and will help lead this team for the foreseeable future. Even currently, he paves the way, and he is the little engine that runs. If he is going strong, the rest of the team follows his lead.
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Aho is the clear-cut number-one center and a player the Hurricanes will build around. Ever since being drafted during the famous 2015 NHL Draft, he has made an immediate impact. His ability to produce is the definition of consistent and his all-around game is noticeable. There are not many flaws to the player and his character speaks for itself. General manager Don Waddell had high praise for the newly extended center and said, “Sebastian has developed into one of the best two-way centers in hockey…He’s a tremendous leader on and off the ice who sets a great example for our younger players. We’re grateful he’s decided to stay in Carolina for the foreseeable future.”
The future of certain players is uncertain beyond the 2023-24 season, so knowing you’ll have a future captain long-term is beneficial. He has cemented his legacy with the Hurricanes and could be the greatest ever to wear the jersey. He is an excellent choice for the role, but so is another homegrown player.
Players lead in different ways, and another candidate for the captaincy role would be the Hurricanes’ number one defenseman, Jaccob Slavin. He is another homegrown player and has established himself as a premiere shutdown defender around the league. Much like Staal, he is not flashy but plays the game hard and the right way.
Slavin is a great player on and off the ice. He is well respected in the dressing room, and his play on the ice speaks for itself. This player can challenge for the Norris Trophy, although points-wise, will likely see him out of those talks. He plays the game hard and is always in a position to make the right plays. Defensively, he is unafraid to block shots (103) and led all defensemen in takeaways (88) on the team last season. But what makes him special is he can play with anybody and excel.
Over the past three seasons, he has been paired with Dougie Hamilton, Tony DeAngelo, and Brent Burns. In those three seasons, he finished in the top ten in Corsi For, Fenwick For, and had the best expected goals for. He dominated the high-danger areas and was a steady presence on the ice. It is never easy to switch partners but he develops chemistry and continues to play a strong game with whoever he plays with.
Having a player like him leading by example exemplifies why giving him this honor would be a smart choice. He is a special player and someone who has been here from the beginning. Slavin has two more years left on his current deal, but signing him to an extension is a no-brainer decision for Waddell.
Leading the Next Wave
Leaning into the next wave of Hurricanes hockey with a new leader is not a bad idea. That time will come, as Staal is not going to play forever. Furthermore, it is not an uncommon thing to see teams switch captains even if the current captain is still playing. The Los Angeles Kings switched from Dustin Brown to Anze Kopitar, signaling a new wave was coming.
The same will be said for the Hurricanes, and the team has two prime candidates. You can never have too many leaders in the locker room, and whoever wears the “C” next will not be the only one. Both players are excellent choices and would make great captains for the Hurricanes.