The Capitals face a tougher division this year than the supposed "cake walk" it was a season ago. I am going to preview the Southeast one team at a time with Carolina next on the list.
The 'Canes lose some key veterans in Rod Brind'Amour (retired) and the wizard Ray Whitney (signed elsewhere). It's time for the youth movement to happen for Carolina. Don't blink, you will see two Staals on this team. Eric Staal will get some brotherly love as Carolina acquire Jared from Phoenix.
Bottom line is the 'Canes will have to lean on the leadership of Staal and Erik Cole. The rest of the team will be mostly young players. Get used to seeing new names on the back of Hurricane sweaters this season.
Forwards - C
The 'Canes will have far less experience all around than they had a year ago. Losing Whitney will make it harder for snipers like Cole and Staal get clean feeds. Carolina also loses some great leadership in Brind'Amour. If the 'Canes can get some dependable play on the third and fourth lines, it might be that bad.
Defense - C+
The Hurricanes should be okay on the back end. Joe Corvo makes his return after his short stint with the Capitals. Add in Tim Gleason and Joni Pitkanen and the blue liners are okay for the Hurricanes.
Goaltending - B
No mater what some critics say, I still think Cam Ward has a good season coming to him. Ward will be backed up by Justin Peters. Unless they suffer any kind of injury, like a freak skate cut, Ward should be the 'Canes number one netminder.
If the Carolina Hurricanes can just stay healthy, they will be okay. Cam Ward, Erik Cole and Eric Staal have all suffered from the injury bug that made it tough for this team to go very far. The Hurricanes have been atop the Southeast Division for some time before the Capitals took that honor back. They are itching to get back into the playoffs and they will have to do it with their youth.