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30 in 30

Carolina Hurricanes fantasy outlook

Trade should spark Teuvo Teravainen's production; Sebastian Aho among sleepers

by Pete Jensen @NHLJensen / NHL.com Fantasy Insider

As part of NHL.com's 30 in 30 series, our fantasy hockey staff is breaking down each team's fantasy landscape. From most valuable assets to underrated options, impact prospects and more, this guide should help fantasy owners prioritize players for drafts.

Hurricanes 30 in 30: Season outlook | Burning questions, reasons for optimism | Top prospects | Fantasy: Top 200

Starting at the top: Teuvo Teravainen, LW

Teravainen had trouble sticking in the Chicago Blackhawks' top six and/or first power-play unit but has an opportunity to put the past behind him after being traded to the Carolina Hurricanes. He turns 22 in September and will look to make the jump from an NHL career best 35 points last season to 50 or more as a primary offensive weapon for the Hurricanes. He had nine power-play points, tied for fourth among Blackhawks forwards with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa, and had 10 points in 18 Stanley Cup Playoff games during their 2015 run to the championship. Teravainen brings more youth and added versatility to the Hurricanes, having played center and wing early in his NHL career. Because of his raw potential and the variables around him, Teravainen is one of the more intriguing fantasy sleeper options in the League and worth reaching for in the ninth or 10th round of a 12-team draft.

Video: Hurricanes GM Ron Francis on his recent acquisitions

Undervalued: Victor Rask, C

Rask quietly finished 157th overall in Yahoo's performance-based rankings last season. He led Carolina in PPP (18) and developed chemistry with wing Jeff Skinner to jump from 33 points (11 goals, 22 assists) as a rookie in 2014-15 to 48 points (21 goals, 27 assists) last season. He went undrafted on average in Yahoo leagues last season and remains relatively unknown in fantasy circles but should hold a top-six role again and benefit from the addition of Teravainen and touted forward prospect Sebastian Aho. Elias Lindholm, who has 31 power-play points in the past two seasons, is another young, under-the-radar Carolina forward worth watching as the lineup shakes out.

Overvalued: Jeff Skinner, LW/RW

Skinner, a high-volume shooter, scored 28 goals (tied for 31st in NHL) on 258 shots on goal (T-13th) last season and has had more than 200 SOG in five of his six NHL seasons. That said, he finished outside the top 100 (106th) based on standard-category performance because his peripherals left much to be desired; he has had four straight seasons of fewer than 40 penalty minutes, seven PPP in each of the past two seasons, a negative plus-minus in five of his six seasons, and has not had 30 assists since his rookie season of 2010-11. Skinner is in the middle range of forwards who carry potential but not enough statistical certainty to be worth a pick inside the first 10 rounds of a standard-category, 12-team draft.

Video: CBJ@CAR: Skinner breaks away from defense for a goal

Sleeper: Noah Hanifin, D

Justin Faulk is the top fantasy defenseman on the Hurricanes by a wide margin, but Hanifin's rookie impact was impressive; he had 22 points (four goals, 18 assists), seven on the power play, and 122 SOG in 79 games. Hanifin, 19, and Jaccob Slavin, 22, were two of five NHL rookie defensemen to score 20 points last season, but Hanifin's category coverage made him the more worthwhile fantasy add in deep leagues. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Hanifin was the fifth rookie defenseman (others: Aaron Ekblad, Olli Maatta, Seth Jones, Cam Fowler) since 2010-11 to score 20 points during a season when the player was 19 or younger by the end of that regular season. Slavin played more minutes per game (20:59) than Hanifin (17:54), but the Hanifin received greater power-play usage (Hanifin: 2:22; Slavin 0:51). He's in the Just Missed section of NHL.com's top 200 rankings, so don't sleep on his value in the late rounds of any format.

Bounce-back: Justin Faulk, D

It's almost unbelievable to think Faulk is a bounce-back candidate after the scorching start he had last season, but that's where he stands. All 12 of his power-play goals (tied for eighth in NHL) came in his first 30 games (Oct. 8 to Dec. 12), and fantasy owners who didn't sell high were kicking themselves. Faulk had four goals, eight assists, three PPP and a minus-15 in his next 34 games, playing 23:08 per game in that span. He also missed 18 of 19 games during a stretch from February to March because of a lower-body injury. After the disappointment of Faulk's unproductive, injury-plagued second half, it's easy to forget he's one of seven defensemen with at least 30 goals (31) in the past two seasons combined. His rating in that span (minus-41) is second-worst in the NHL, but targeting him outside the top 100 players in the hope the Hurricanes become more stabilized at even strength is a good course of action. Faulk, ranked 112th in NHL.com's top 200, is a safe bet to finish with more than 200 SOG and among the top 20 fantasy defensemen if he stays healthy.

Impact prospect: Sebastian Aho, RW

The 19-year-old signed an entry-level contract with the Hurricanes on June 13 and is expected to make the roster out of training camp. Carolina coach Bill Peters coached against Aho when Canada faced Finland at the 2016 IIHF World Championship. Finland was the runner-up in the tournament behind Canada, and Aho had seven points (three goals, four assists) with a plus-4, two power-play goals and 20 SOG in 10 games. He was a point-per-game player, with 45 points (20 goals, 25 assists) in 45 regular-season games and 15 points (four goals, 11 assists) in 14 playoff games for Karpat of Liiga, Finland's top professional league, and is a deep sleeper worth monitoring in September. The Hurricanes have a plethora of top-notch players under the age of 24 who could thrive in Peters' possession system and lift them into contention as early as this season. If you're in a keeper league, Aho should be prioritized.

Goalie outlook

The Hurricanes kept longtime goalie Cam Ward at a discount, setting up another competition for playing time with Eddie Lack. Neither is worth drafting in fantasy based on their body of work last season, but it's worth noting Ward won the battle of starts convincingly (51 to 31) despite missing time with injury and had a much better goals-against average (2.41 to 2.81), save percentage (.909 to .901) and even-strength SV% (.916 to .903) than Lack. But even with this suspect tandem, the Hurricanes were mathematically alive in April, so offensive reinforcements could make either goalie relevant in fantasy off the waiver wire. The Hurricanes also have top-flight goalie prospect Alex Nedeljkovic, who played in the Ontario Hockey League last season and could be thrust into the American Hockey League or even NHL mix if injuries open the door. That said, the Hurricanes have two goalies signed to a one-way contract and are expected to take their chances with Ward and Lack.

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