It’s time. Training camp officially opened for the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday, with medical testing and physicals taking place in Raleigh.
With the first on-ice sessions beginning Friday, now seems like a good time to empty the notebook, so to speak.
Hurricanes training camp will span nearly three weeks and include six preseason games leading up to Oct. 8, when the Hurricanes head to Nashville for the season opener.
Carolina has invited 57 players – 32 forwards, 19 defensemen and six goaltenders – to camp, including 20 who skated with the team at the 2015 NHL Prospects Tournament in Traverse City, Mich., two players on AHL contracts and one camp invitee.
For the time being, the collection of 57 has been split into three groups. After two days of practice, an intra-squad scrimmage and two preseason games, the camp roster will be whittled down to two groups. By the end of September, just one group will remain heading into the final week of exhibition play.
Of the 32 forwards in camp now, just 12 or 13 or perhaps 14 will be left come Oct. 8. Some of the key questions that will be answered in the next three weeks include: Will Eric Staal play at center or on the wing? Will the Staal brothers play on a line together? Where does Kris Versteeg slot in? How does the bottom six fill out?
On defense, the intrigue is even more palpable. Will fifth-overall pick Noah Hanifin make the team out of camp? Who pairs with All-Star defenseman Justin Faulk? Will Haydn Fleury make the decision on whether to return him to his junior team a difficult one? In the final year of his entry-level contract, does Ryan Murphy cement himself as an everyday NHL player?
In goal, this much is known: barring injury or a camp surprise, Cam Ward and Eddie Lack will be the Hurricanes’ two goaltenders this season. What is not known is which of the two will be the starter. For the second year in a row, there is real competition in net, and the exhibition season will be central in deciding who will man the crease on Oct. 8 in Nashville.
3-on-3 Overtime (And Other Rule Changes)
There are a few key rule changes being implemented heading into the 2015-16 regular season, including 3-on-3 overtime and a coach’s challenge. We got a brief glimpse of 3-on-3 overtime at the NHL Prospects Tournament in Traverse City, Mich., and the Canes were involved in one game that required extra time. Sergey Tolchinsky, who thrives in the open ice, ended up netting the game-winner in the first minute.
Before we see 3-on-3 OT in the regular season, fans and teams will get an expanded look at it in the preseason. The NHL has designated 45 exhibition games that will feature a five-minute, sudden-death 3-on-3 overtime period, regardless of the score at the end of regulation. For record-keeping purposes, the team leading at the end of regulation will be deemed the winner, and there will not be a resulting shootout if the overtime period concludes without a goal.
Of the 45 preselected exhibition matches, the Hurricanes will be involved in three: Sept. 21 at Washington, Sept. 26 vs. New York Islanders (in Halifix) and Sept. 27 vs. Ottawa (in St. John’s).
It’s true: there is a real-life hockey game in just four days. Monday, Sept. 21 marks the Hurricanes’ preseason opener, as they travel to Washington for the first of six exhibition matches.
Included in this year’s preseason slate is a pair of games in the Canadian Martimes on Saturday, Sept. 26 and Sunday, Sept. 27. The Canes come back home to PNC Arena on Wednesday, Sept. 30 and Friday, Oct. 2 to conclude their exhibition schedule.
NHL Network will be televising more than 40 preseason games, and the Hurricanes will be featured twice. Fans can watch the Hurricanes take on the Capitals on Sept. 21 at 7 p.m., and a tape-delay broadcast of the Canes/Pens match-up will be available at 3 a.m. on Sept. 23.
Otherwise, Chuck Kaiton will have the radio call, as always, that will be available on 99.9 FM The Fan and on CarolinaHurricanes.com.
is the Web Producer for the Carolina Hurricanes.Email