The Carolina effect: Can an NHL team win without a superstar?

Justin Faulk is the closest thing the playoff-hopeful Hurricanes have to a star -- and he isn't really a star. Al Bello/Getty Images

The league leaders right now are fun, aren't they? There's Auston Matthews at the top of both the points and the goals race. Connor McDavid is right behind in points. You know Patrik Laine won't let those two get too far ahead and if Jack Eichel weren't injured, chances are he'd be right in the middle of it all.

It's a good time to have a young star in the NHL.

The centerpieces of the rebuilds in Toronto, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Buffalo have been everything everyone expected. The results in the standings may be lagging for some of the teams involved, but nobody is blaming the young stars.

So much has to go right to land one of those players. In the year or years you're bad, there has to be a generational player available. Then you have to win the lottery. Then the player has to be as good as everyone expects. It doesn't always work out, as the recent Nail Yakupov trade proves.

Toronto and Edmonton are going to be in great shape on that front. But what about a team that didn't land a young star during its rebuild? What about a team that didn't quite bottom out or hit the lottery magic; does its group of young players have the same ceiling?

The Carolina Hurricanes are a fascinating study in that regard.