The Carolina Hurricanes training camp is now underway, and there are some very interesting storylines to focus on as the team gets ready for the 2022-23 NHL season. The Hurricanes’ roster includes 46 skaters and six goalies split into two teams, Team C1, and Team C2. Most eyes will be on Team C1, which seems to include most of the projected NHL roster, as well as a couple of players on professional try-outs trying to earn their spot.
This is something that we don’t see too often. Most teams will break their roster into two or three groups, split up the NHL regulars, and let everyone compete for a spot. It will be interesting to see how the Hurricanes utilize the two teams. In scrimmages and team vs. team drills, Team C1 should have no problem, and Team C2 may not get to show off their true colors.
Of course, somebody on Team C2 might impress everyone, earn a shot, and make the NHL. With the pre-season starting soon, quite a few Team C2 players will get their opportunity post-camp.
Predicting Carolina’s Final Roster After Training Camp
Based on the two teams, who will make the NHL lineup is pretty clear, including the players on PTOs. After camp and pre-season, I expect to see a lineup very close to this:
Extras: Dylan Coghlan, Derek Stephan, Lane Pederson, Stefan Noesen, William Lagesson
This roster is the most optimal, based on who is at camp. Of course, Max Pacioretty will work his way into the lineup when he returns from his Achilles injury, and with a couple of injuries likely along the way, the Hurricanes are certainly prepared to face that kind of adversity, given their depth and available assets to bring in a player to fill in some holes as needed.
Team C2 Potential Surprises
Even if Team C1 is expected to be the NHL roster, nothing is set in stone. However, a few players on the other side might prove to be valuable to the big club.
Ryan Dzingel is the first one who jumps out here. With this being his second stint with the Hurricanes, the team knows what to expect. In a full season, he can be a versatile bottom-six winger who can log anywhere from 30 to 40 points. His best seasons came with the Ottawa Senators, the team that drafted him in the seventh round, and the Hurricanes, where he registered 33 points in 75 games across two seasons.
Grigori Dronov, who I mentioned in the Hurricanes Players to Watch at 2022 Prospect Showcase article, will need some time in the American Hockey League (AHL) to get used to playing in North America. He is joining the Hurricanes on a PTO during camp and should earn himself a contract. The left-handed defenseman has 189 career Kontinental Hockey League games, plus 68 playoff games, as a 24-year-old. Listed at 6-foot-3, 201 pounds, Dronov is unsurprisingly a physical defenseman. He isn’t going to lay the biggest hits, but he will always use his size to his advantage along the board battles. He doesn’t produce the most points, but in the most recent playoffs, he did manage fourteen points in twenty-four games, which is very impressive given his skill-set. Reports say that quite a few teams have had their eyes on the Russian defender, but if Carolina can lock him up, they may have struck gold if he develops as projected.
I feel obligated to include Pyotr Kochetkov on this list after his stellar performance last season. However, by the looks of it, the Hurricanes staff want him to have one more year in the AHL. That being said, Freddy Andersen and Antti Raanta each have had injury problems. Both goaltenders are now fully healthy and ready to compete, but should anything happen, I think the Hurricanes will look at Kochetkov to be the first call-up to fill in. With Andersen and Raanta on expiring contracts, I expect the tandem will be Andersen and Kochetkov next season, or even before, depending on his play.
Gardiner Returns to LTIR
Carolina announced that Jake Gardiner will not be attending training camp and will return to long-term injured reserve (LTIR) for the start of the season. After undergoing hip and back surgery a year ago, his recovery time seems to be taking longer than anticipated. During the summer, shortly after the team’s second buyout window closed, things looked positive for Gardiner, and he sounded ready to go for the final year of his four-year, $16.2 million contract.
With Gardiner and Pacioretty on LTIR, the Hurricanes will have a maximum cap relief of $11.05 million, roughly $2.6 million of which they are already using. So, until those two players are healthy, Carolina has over $8 million to play with. Unless things go poorly to start the season, I don’t think adding another piece should be a priority right now.
In other news, there have been rumors that Ethan Bear has been generating interest from a trio of Canadian teams. The Edmonton Oilers, Senators, and Vancouver Canucks are said to be interested. It is hard to judge the value of a return on Bear. Some have suggested Bear and a pick for Jesse Puljujärvi, or maybe Tanner Pearson and a couple of late-round picks, and I expect something along those lines could happen.
Even without Gardiner or Bear, the team still has Calvin de Haan, Dylan Coghlan, and Jalen Chatfield battling for the third pairing roles. The team’s depth is on display, and some teams are trying to take advantage of that.
My name is Jacob Billington, and I cover the Carolina Hurricanes here at The Hockey Writers. Born and raised in Nova Scotia, becoming a hockey fan was quite easy. Falling in love with the game in the early 2000’s, and taking in as much knowledge as I could since then. I appreciate everybody who reads my content, and I take pride in creating the best experience for readers. Feel free to reach me on Twitter, I am always active and talking about anything hockey related!