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Hurricanes hope new faces lead to end of playoff drought

September 25, 2018
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Carolina Hurricanes' Sebastian Aho (20), of Finland, chases the puck with Tampa Bay Lightning's Cory Conacher (89) as Hurricanes' Justin Faulk (27) watches during the second period of a preseason NHL hockey game in Raleigh, N.C., Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

CAROLINA HURRICANES

LAST SEASON: 36-35-11, 83 points. Sixth in Metropolitan Division.

COACH: Rod Brind’Amour (first season, first NHL season).

ADDED: F Andrei Svechnikov, D Dougie Hamilton, D Calvin de Haan, G Petr Mrazek.

LOST: G Cam Ward, F Jeff Skinner, F Elias Lindholm, D Noah Hanifin.

PLAYER TO WATCH: C Sebastian Aho. The 21-year-old led the team last season with 29 goals and 65 points. He’s entering his third season, and figures to be the team’s top offensive threat — especially now that Jeff Skinner has been traded to Buffalo — though it will be worth watching to see how he adjusts to playing center instead of the wing.

OUTLOOK: With each passing year, the Hurricanes grow more tired of talking about their lengthy run of playoff absences. Either way, they’ll make history this season — either by finally ending the drought, or by missing out yet again and matching the longest dry spell in NHL history. They have the defensive corps of a playoff team, but will need improvement from G Scott Darling and their young scorers to generate offense to finally make the postseason.

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