Karl B DeBlaker/Associated Press

The Carolina Hurricanes haven’t made the playoffs since 2009, their owner is answering questions about relocation and they currently sit second-to-last in, perhaps, the NHL’s toughest division. Yet there are legitimate reasons to believe in the Canes this season.

The Hurricanes’ 7-6-4 record doesn’t jump off the page at you, but it’s respectable—especially when you consider how the team’s goaltenders, Cam Ward and Eddie Lack, are performing. Through their first 16 games, Carolina’s goaltenders have posted an .899 save percentage, which ranks 27th overall and is well below the league average of .911.

So how are the Hurricanes staying afloat despite their goaltending woes? They play an exciting yet effective possession-driven style of hockey that has turned them into a quietly dangerous squad.

Through the first 16 games this season, Carolina ranks fourth in the NHL with a 52.98 Corsi percentage at five-on-five. That may not seem like a big sample size, but the impressive possession numbers aren’t anything new to the Hurricanes. Since Bill Peters took over behind the bench prior to the 2014-15 season, Carolina has played to a 52.03 Corsi percentage, which is the sixth-best mark in that span.

An even deeper look, this time using Corsica’s expected-goals metric, shows the Hurricanes to be among the league’s best at both creating high-quality scoring chances for and preventing high-quality scoring chances against. Carolina averages 2.66 expected goals for per 60 minutes compared to just 2.29 expected goals against per 60 minutes.

Over the past few years, general manager Ron Francis has done a tremendous job of cultivating young talent through the draft and making trades.

Up front the Hurricanes are led by 23-year-old Victor Rask, who is quietly becoming one of the league’s most effective centers. He leads a top six that features 24-year-old Jeff Skinner, 19-year-old Sebastian Aho and 22-year-old Teuvo Teravainen. All four have already recorded 10 or more points this season.

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