Carolina’s all-time draft team: A Sharknado of WhalerCanes

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Come for the Carolina Hurricanes, stay for the Hartford Whalers.

The Hurricanes relocated from Connecticut to North Carolina in 1997, but the franchise’s all-time all-drafted team features a few more Whalers than Canes. And while there’s four-line scoring power on the wings, a tower of strength on the blueline and a couple of Stanley Cup-winning goalies in net, the strength of this blended bunch is down the middle.

With the likes of Ron Francis, Eric Staal, Bobby Holik and Ray Ferraro at the center position, the WhalerCanes are more compelling than a Sharknado movie. (If you think that sounds like a backhanded compliment, it isn’t meant to be. However, if you think that sounds like a terribly forced comparison, well, you might be on to something…)

With his elite all-around acumen, Francis is a primetime No. 1 center who can drive the offense while shutting down the opponents’ best players. Staal gives the team a first-line-caliber center on the second unit, and Holik’s two-way dominance makes him a perfect third-line pivot. Ferraro brings his superb offensive game to the fourth line. You might beat this team, but you’re not going to overwhelm down the middle of the ice.

The wings are packed with shooters, and there’s some grit, too. Kevin Dineen and Erik Cole join Francis on the first line, a couple of 30-goal guys who are at their best when the going gets rough. It’s Staal and The Two Jeffs on the second line, with O’Neill and Skinner rating as perhaps the purest snipers on the team. Holik gets some two-way assistance in the form of Sami Kapanen on the third unit, with Geoff Sanderson racing up and down the left wing. On the fourth line, Ferraro has dependability in Scott Young and scoring in Sylvain Turgeon.

On defense, Chris Pronger is going to play a ton of minutes. Let’s give him Justin Faulk for a partner – Pronger can lure over opponents and then pass off to Faulk for his big slapper from the point. Ulf Samuelsson, who was never nominated for the Lady Byng Trophy and nobody is suggesting that he should’ve been, brings his ’80s brand of borderline bodychecks to the second pairing, and he’ll work with Sylvain Cote, who can jump-start the offense while opponents are trying to jump on Samuelsson. The third pair features a couple of today’s best Canes defenders in Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce. Give them a couple years and they might graduate to the second pairing, or split them up and one of them can join Pronger on the minute-munching top duo.

In net, there’s Cam Ward, who won the Cup as Carolina’s rookie stopper in 2006, and Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who won the Cup as Anaheim’s starter in 2007. Ward, who spent the vast majority of his career with the Hurricanes, gets the No. 1 billing but this is basically a platoon.

Here’s a look at Carolina’s all-time all-drafted team, with plenty of representation from the franchise’s early days in Hartford. The 20-player lineup is based on players’ entire NHL body of work.

CENTERS
Ron Francis (4th, 1981)
Eric Staal (2nd, 2003)
Bobby Holik (10th, 1989)
Ray Ferraro (88th, 1982)

RIGHT WINGERS
Kevin Dineen (56th, 1982)
Jeff O’Neill (5th, 1994)
Sami Kapanen (87th, 1995)
Scott Young (11th, 1986)

LEFT WINGERS
Erik Cole (71st, 1998)
Jeff Skinner (7th, 2010)
Geoff Sanderson (36th, 1990)
Sylvain Turgeon (2nd, 1983)

DEFENSEMEN
Chris Pronger (2nd, 1993)
Justin Faulk (37th, 2010)
Ulf Samuelsson (67th, 1982)
Sylvain Cote (11th, 1984)
Jaccob Slavin (120th, 2012)
Brett Pesce (66th, 2013)

GOALIES
Cam Ward (25th, 2002)
Jean-Sebastien Giguere (13th, 1995)