1. Unlocking potential
Dougie Hamilton, acquired in a trade from the Calgary Flames on June 23, could spark Carolina's talented group of young defensemen.
In three seasons with Calgary, the 25-year-old had 94 points (29 goals, 65 assists) in 245 games at even strength, seventh among NHL defensemen in that span.
The Flames had a 4,309-3,636 advantage in 5-on-5 shot attempts with Hamilton on the ice since the start of the 2015-16 season, for an SAT of plus-673. That boosted their share of shot attempts from 48.81 percent to 54.24 percent, giving Hamilton a relative SAT of plus-5.43 percent that was fifth among defensemen who played at least 50 games over that time.
2. Lifting the percentages
The Hurricanes had a 4,253-3,558 advantage in 5-on-5 shot attempts last season, for an SAT of plus-695 and an SAT percentage of 54.45, each the best in the NHL. This territorial advantage is confirmed by their NHL-high offensive zone start percentage of 56.61.
Despite these numbers, Carolina was outscored 179-155 at 5-on-5, when it had a 7.0 shooting percentage (28th in the NHL) and its goalies, Cam Ward and Scott Darling, combined for a .909 save percentage (30th).
The Hurricanes' shooting plus save percentage (SPSV) of 980 was 30th in the NHL, better than only the Buffalo Sabres' 978. If last season was any indication though, improvement in 2018-19 is possible. The four teams that had the worst SPSVs in 2016-17 (Colorado Avalanche, Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers, Los Angeles Kings) went from an average of 980 to 1,008 in 2017-18, and each made the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
3. Consistently disciplined
Carolina spent 404:01 on the power play and 306:46 shorthanded, for a differential of plus-97:15 that led the NHL.
The Hurricanes have been outside the top six teams once since this measurement became available for the 2002-03 season, when they were 10th in 2009-10 (plus-24:15).