September 5, 2013 by andymisek
It’s difficult to believe a team with as much skill-up front like the Carolina Hurricanes could consistently finish poor season after season. The issue is they have been plagued with injury and inconsistency in play the last few seasons. If Jeff Skinner could go the entire season without missing a large chunk of games or Eric Staal started a season the way he finished a season, they might have been a little higher on our list. Until they prove otherwise, the Carolina Hurricanes finish 26th on Cups & Pucks NHL Season Countdown.
Another season, another top 10 pick in the draft for the Hurricanes. It has almost become a pattern for the team. The Hurricanes selected Elias Lindholm with the 5th overall pick in the 2013 draft. The skilled center might be NHL ready this season but would have to play winger if the Hurricanes want him in their top 6 forwards.
Carolina’s offseason was all about adding depth to their line-up. They added Andrej Sekera in exchange for Jamie McBain as well as signing Mike Komisarek who was bought out from the Toronto Maple Leafs.
After bolstering their depth on defense, the Hurricanes added some smaller, skilled wingers to the fold in Nathan Gerbe and Aaron Palushaj. Neither were regulars for their previous teams, but they could add come scoring depth if one of their big forwards go down with injury (and in Carolina, they always do).
After letting Dan Ellis walk via free agency, Hurricanes signed former Boston Bruins back-up Anton Khudobin to play behind Cam Ward. This could turn into a very strong signing; Khudobin should be a major upgrade over Dan Ellis.
You can describe Carolina’s forwards in two ways: Injury prone and streaky. Eric Staal always starts the season extremely slow as Carolina digs a hole in the standings; Jeff Skinner (concussions) and Tuomo Ruutu (every part of his body) struggle to stay healthy. If you look up the term streaky scorer in the dictionary, you will see a picture of Alexander Semin. Carolina’s stars all need to stay healthy and play a consistent game if they want to make the playoffs. Jiri Tlusty had an impressive season last year. If he could continue to play the same way, he will be an offensive force.
Also, Carolina’s depth down the middle is scary bad. Eric and Jordan Staal are both solid centers that form a decent 1-2 punch for Carolina. However, after the Staal brothers, the depth chart gets sketchy. Riley Nash and Jeremy Welsh won’t get it done as 3rd and 4th line centers. If Victor Rask is ready, he could also fight for one of those bottom pairing spots.
While the defense’s depth has been improved with the additions of Sekera and Komisarek, the Hurricanes still lack a true #1 defensemen. Ryan Murphy has the potential to be a top pairing defenseman, but first he needs to make the team. Running Tim Gleason and Justin Faulk against team’s top lines game in and game out could end up being the biggest weakness for the Hurricanes. While both are considered top four defensemen, neither should be top pairing defensemen. Faulk is young, however, and could continue to develop into a top pairing guy. Joni Pitkanen is also an option for the top pairing.
Cam Ward and Anton Khudobin are both reliable goalies. Carolina is lucky to have these two as their duo, otherwise they would be even lower on this list. There isn’t much else to say about these two goal tenders. Both are going to get peppered by the more elite teams, but they should be able to steal a few games.
A good goaltending duo won’t be enough to save the Carolina Hurricanes. They are going to need a consistent, injury free year from their stars. Ryan Murphy and Victor Rask might need to step in and help the team immediately. Carolina is a wild card because they could be so much better with the skill they possess but, until they prove otherwise, inconsistent play will derail another season. They might need to make a few more large changes if they plan to make a push into the playoffs.