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30 in 15: Carolina Hurricanes Season Preview

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*Offense:’ Even though they lost a significant amount of manpower games to injury last year, the Hurricanes managed to put up some pretty decent offensive numbers. Jussi Jokinen has developed into a top line forward, but this team is still Eric Staal’s. Naming him captain last year was a great move by the ‘Canes, and they actually have some decent depth up front. Rookie Jeff Skinner could be the big surprise of the season.Grade: BCam WardDefense:Joni Pitkanen is a fine defenseman, but he’s not cut out for marquee-caliber ice time. American Olympian Tim Gleason> is pretty solid, but the Hurricanes will have to get extraordinary efforts from youngsters like Brett Carson and Jamie McBain if they expect alot from their defense. Fortunately, the ‘Canes have more than a couple of talented two-way forwards up front, so the lack of defense should be mildly compensated for.Grade: C-’'’Goaltending:’’’ As long as Cam Ward is healthy, this team has a chance, and that’s a fact. Ward showed it when he won this club a Stanley Cup, but he was plagued by injuries last year, and will be looking to bounce back this year. Ward’s injury seriously derailed the club last season, but if he can avoid a similar fate this year, Carolina will look alot more like the team that finished out the year fighting out of the basement than the team that stumbled down there in the first place. *Grade: A-‘

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