Despite trading defenseman Tony DeAngelo and seeing forwards Vincent Trocheck and Nino Niederreiter sign elsewhere this offseason, the Carolina Hurricanes should be contenders again in 2022-23 thanks to some key moves by general manager Don Waddell and company. They acquired veteran defenseman Brent Burns from the San Jose Sharks, who could prove to be an upgrade over DeAngelo, while also adding proven goal scorer Max Pacioretty (out 6 months with Achilles tear), and re-signing forward Martin Necas.
I am going to provide my three hottest takes regarding Hurricanes’ players for the 2022-23 season and detail how they could come to fruition.
Frederik Andersen Sets Career High in Wins
Frederik Andersen is coming off one of the best seasons of his nine-year NHL career, finishing with 35 wins and a .922 save percentage. He was three wins short of his career high in wins (38 in 2017-18), despite missing the last six games of the regular season due to an injury that ended his season. The Hurricanes’ duo of Andersen and Antti Raanta allowed the least amount of goals in the NHL last season, earning the 2022-23 William M. Jennings Trophy. I believe he will come back from injury and be even better this season in goal for the Hurricanes.
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.
Martin Necas Has Breakout Season, Finishes With 60-Plus Points
Martin Necas has had a rollercoaster of a career since being drafted by Carolina with the 12th overall pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. After providing decent production and showcasing his game-changing speed in 2019-20 and 2020-21, he took a step back last season in his third campaign since being called up to the NHL full-time. Despite playing in 25 more regular season games this past season, he finished with the same amount of goals (14) and one fewer point (40) than he produced in 2020-21 (41). He also had a career-low shooting percentage (8.8), as I believe his accuracy and finishing struggles gave him confidence issues throughout the season. According to MoneyPuck.com, only 67.65 percent of his unblocked shot attempts were on goal this past season, which was down quite a bit from his expected percentage of unblocked shot attempts on goal (72.3 percent).
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. Look for Carolina to try and ink him to a long contract if this prediction comes to fruition.
Jack Drury Will Provide Immediate Production
One exciting storyline heading into the 2022-23 season for Carolina is the impending addition of Jack Drury to the Hurricanes roster. I wrote about the buzz he was generating earlier this summer after an impressive season with the Chicago Wolves and as we inch closer to the season, it appears all but certain that he will be on the opening night roster for the Hurricanes. I believe he will pick up right where he left off from his short NHL stint last season, in which he scored two goals in two games. While I don’t expect him to compete for time at 2C immediately, I think it is very reasonable to expect him to provide scoring and depth on the third/fourth line for Carolina this season.
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.
What if All 3 Happen?
If all three of these hot takes were to somehow take place for Carolina this season it is very likely that they will find themselves in contention again for the Stanley Cup and I would be surprised if they didn’t grab another Metropolitan Division crown in the process. If they receive 39 wins from Andersen and a 60 plus point season from Necas there’s a really good chance the Hurricanes would be the top seed heading into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, anything Drury provides on top of that would be icing on the cake. It should be another exciting season in Raleigh in 2022-23.
Growing up a huge sports fan Mack has always had a passion for writing about sports. The Water Valley, MS native covers the Carolina Hurricanes for THW. A graduate of the University of Mississippi, Mack also enjoys running and playing golf. Follow him on twitter @MackGordon0