With just over a month until the Hurricanes hit the ice for the first of six preseason contests, hockey season is on the horizon in Raleigh.
Carolina, who strengthened their roster by extending star center Sebastian Aho and adding the likes of Dmitry Orlov and Michael Bunting, will look to capture their fourth straight division title and third consecutive campaign with 100 or more points.
Their current roster is primed to compete for an Eastern Conference title and potentially their second Stanley Cup in franchise history.
Even with the influx of talent in Raleigh, many Hurricanes enter the season with plenty to prove.
There is no doubt that Teuvo Teravainen has been a core piece of Carolina’s rebuild and a reason for their success under Rod Brind’Amour.
Teravainen has recorded 60 or more points on four occasions during his time in Raleigh, yet his 2022-2023 campaign can be defined as a disappointment.
The 28-year old tallied just 12 goals and 25 assists in 68 games, a 28 point drop from a season before. During the 2019-2020 campaign, Teravainen also saw action in 68 games, but finished with an impressive 15 goals and 48 assists.
Absorbing a slash in game two of Carolina’s first round series against the New York Islanders forced Teravainen to miss the next nine games, including the entire second round against New Jersey.
Combining injuries and the loss of a family member and there may be some answers to the forward’s struggles.
Heading into the 2023-2024 campaign, Teravainen is one of the Hurricanes with plenty to prove.
He enters the final season of a five-year extension, leaving his future in Carolina potentially in doubt.
Teravainen’s name has surfaced in trade talks this offseason as well, as he was tabbed as a potential piece in a trade for Erik Karlsson or in a package with either Brady Skjei or Brett Pesce.
His play and how it contributes to the success of the Hurricanes may also impact Carolina’s movement at the trade deadline.
Adding in the extension of Aho and a handful of other contracts, such as Seth Jarvis’ and Martin Necas’, that will require addressing next offseason, the writing could be on the wall for the Finland native.
Another lackluster season would likely see Teravainen in a new city and uniform come 2024.
Similar to Teravainen, Jack Drury’s 2022-2023 campaign was one to forget. Prior to the season, it was reported that he had requested a trade out of Raleigh, but he did little to help his trade value with his play on the ice.
Drury saw time in 38 regular season contests with Carolina and spent his rookie season between Raleigh and Chicago (AHL). He amassed just two goals and six assists, but did show some promise in the postseason with three assists in 13 games.
The 23-year old finds himself behind a logjam of centers that are, to put it bluntly, much more valuable to the Hurricanes’ success.
While Drury is certain to be a healthy scratch at times, he has arguably the most to prove when on the ice.
Odds are that his future in the NHL is not in Raleigh, but, entering the last year of his contract, he will be looking to impress all 32 organizations.
Drury could find himself as a potential trade piece as a rental with a team that will allow him to showcase his ability before hitting restricted free agency.
Whether it is to carve out a true role and future in Raleigh or catch the eye of another team, Jack Drury has plenty to prove heading into the 2023-2024 season.
Yes, you read that correctly. However, Andrei Svechnikov is certainly not in the same boat as Teuvo Teravainen or Jack Drury.
His future is cemented in Carolina and he is primed to be a cornerstone for the Hurricanes for at least the next seven seasons.
Yet, as he is set to come back from a torn ACL, there are some questions to be answered.
How long will it take for Svechnikov to return to his old self? Can Carolina rely on him to compete in back-to-backs in the early going?
Stars such as Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin have gone on to have career years following a torn ACL in the last decade and that is certainly not out of the question for the 23-year old.
The reason Svechnikov finds himself on this list is the impact his play will have on Carolina’s potential and action at the trade deadline.
If he is able to put up numbers consistent to where he was prior to suffering the injury, the Hurricanes may not need to look for another goal-scoring forward. They are already in the tier of Stanley Cup favorites and Svechnikov’s return to prominence could further solidify their status near the top of the NHL.
On the other hand, if his return to his old form takes longer than anticipated, it may warrant a trade deadline move by Carolina.
Svechnikov has plenty to prove in terms of answering questions and showcasing that he is back to 100% after tearing his ACL in March. For the reigning All-Star, it is about proving ‘when’ and not about the ‘if’ when it comes to finding his old self.