LAST SEASON: 30-41-11, 71 points. Last place in Metropolitan Division. No playoffs.
COACH: Bill Peters, second season, 30-41-11.
PLAYER TO WATCH: C Eric Staal. The 30-year-old captain and current face of the franchise is entering the final season of a seven-year contract he signed in 2008. He has led the team in scoring in seven of his 10 seasons - including last year, when he had 23 goals and 54 points - but carries the weight of the team's lengthy postseason drought on his 6-foot-4 frame.
OUTLOOK: No team in the Eastern Conference has gone longer since its last playoff appearance than Carolina, which last made the postseason in 2009. The returning players have a stronger grasp of Peters' detail-oriented system and the addition of Lack should strengthen the team's situation in goal. But an infusion of young players likely means a few more growing pains for a franchise celebrating the 10th anniversary of its lone Stanley Cup title this season.