Canes forward Ray Whitney is heading into his 17th NHL season and his fourth with Carolina. Despite missing 16 games to injuries and illness last season, he was second on the team in goals, assists and points.
Ask Whitney a question and he'll give you a straight answer. So here goes.
Q: What do you like about this Hurricanes team going into preseason camp?
A: "It's a fresh start. It's a lot of the same faces we had the last couple of years, but we've got some changes on defense that are exciting for us. We've got the same good three lines offensively that we had the last few years but I think our focus has to be keeping the puck out a little bit better this year."
Q: One offensive guy who won't be back is Erik Cole. How much will he be missed?
A: "It depends. You're always going to miss a player like that. But how much is Joni Pitkanen going to help us? I mean, that will determine how much we miss Erik Cole.
"I think defensemen, when you look at the free agency market now, are very hard to come by and they come at a very premium price. I think if we were going to get a quality defenseman, we had to give up a quality player and we gave up a quality player in Erik. Obviously we will miss him, but it gives guys like Patrick Eaves an opportunity. ...
"We'll certainly miss Erik and I'm sure he'll have a great season (in Edmonton) but he's also coming up to unrestricted free agency and who knows if we'd be able to keep him at the end of the year anyway."
Q: Who do you think could be a surprise this season, lifting their game to another level or having a breakthrough year?
A: "I don't think we're looking for any one guy to break out, but if I had to pick one I'd probably up front pick Patrick Eaves. ... We didn't get to see him play as much as we wanted to last year because of the shoulder (injury.) I think he looks really good right now (in informal workouts.) Who knows, he may go score 30 goals for us.
"I think Chad LaRose, the way he played at the end of last year, he has a great opportunity to add to his totals. I think (Tuomo) Ruutu will have a big year for us. He had a couple of good years with Chicago and he's had some injuries. So if he's healthy, I think he's going to be a big help for us.
"And on defense I think Tim Gleason is going to be a big, big part of our future."