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The 2009-2010 season was full of up and downs, trades, young kids, and a reason to be excited in the future. The Hurricanes did not make a ton of changes just a couple in which to sure up the team and hope for another deep playoff run. Well now we sit here as the playoffs have started wondering what went wrong with this team.
The Hurricanes added veterans in the off-season such as Andrew Alberts, Tom Kostopolous, and Aaron Ward. However, it really never seemed to fit and no one could put their finger on it. The few positives this season were how interesting the Hurricanes made it in the last couple of weeks after being left for dead in late November. I remember Chuck Kaiton saying that he could never remember a team that lost 14 in a row early in the season and then turn around and win 7 in a row in February.
The team did had some players who had great years and others whos time may have come and gone. The Carolina Hurricanes leading goal scorer this season was a surprise. Jussi Jokinen was traded to the Hurricanes in a minor deal in 2009 and helped the Hurricanes go deep in the playoffs. This season Jokinen put 30 goals in the net for the first time in his career. Jokinen use to known as a shootout specialist, but has shown the ability this season to be a scorer also. Another major addition to the team was the call up of Brandon Sutter. After being sent down to Albany in the final cuts of training camp Sutter returned and proved he was ready for the NHL. Sutter had a break out season, basically as a rookie, scoring 21 goals and assisting on 19 goals for a total of 40 points in 72 games.
With the Hurricanes facing a tough season management decided it was time to assign the leadership for the future by passing the captaincy to Eric Staal. Staal had an injury plagued season but still managed to score 29 goals and assist on 41. However, this leads to the biggest question in the off-season, Have we seen the last of Rod Brind’Amour? Brind’Amour had another sub par season by his and the teams standerds and now faces the option of retirement in the off-season. Rutherford said Brind’Amour has a job waiting in the organization whenever he is ready and this just might be the time for Brind’Amour to move on to the next chapter of his life.
While all this was going on the trade deadline came fast and with Jim Rutherford seeing the opportunity to improve the franchise for the future traded Matt Cullen to Ottawa for Alexandre Picard and a 2nd round pick and Nicolas Wallin to San Jose for a 2nd round pick right before the Olympic break. When the actual deadline day came the Hurricanes trade quite a few players.
Aaron Ward to Anaheim for Justin Pogge and a 4th round pick
Joe Corvo to Washington for Brian Pothier and a 2011 2nd round pick
Scott Walker to Washington for a 7th round pick
With all of the Hurricanes players leaving the door was left open for young players to make their case to be on the opening roster in 2010. The Hurricanes got to look at some of their top prospects in Jamie McBain, Drayson Bowman, Zack Boychuk, Jerome Samson, Jiri Tlusty, Oskar Osala, and Justin Peters. Arguably the two players that looked the best in their short looks were Justin Peters and Jamie McBain. Justin Peters was thrown into his first NHL action this season when Cam Ward suffered a lower back injury in July. Peters stepped in and along with Manny Legace kept the Hurricanes slim playoff chance alive. Justin Peters went 6-3 this season with a GAA 2.83. With Peters playing so well this season it will be interesting to see where the team heads in the off-season with its backup goalie as Manny Legace is a free agent this summer. Then there is Jaime McBain (also known as the McBain Train). McBain received his call up in late March and all he did was average a point per game and score a game winner in overtime against Pittsburgh on the road. McBain is likely to make the team out of camp next year with the team going towards a young core.
The way the Hurricanes played this season the team will transition to be a much younger team next year with the major project being on defense as on Joni Pitkanen, Tim Gleason, and Jamie McBain are the only defensemen under contract for 2010-2011. The defense next season could go a couple ways which could include a return to the NHL by Anton Babchuk or possibly bringing back Brian Pothier. Now I do not want to spoil which way I think the Hurricanes should go next season as I will break down the each group of players leading up to the draft in June. However, its a good bet you will see Alexandre Picard and Brett Carson back in the lineup for the Hurricanes in 2010-2011.
With everything that happened this season the Hurricanes truly gave us a reason to believe, whether it players like Brandon Sutter and Jamie McBain or the amazing run the Hurricanes went on with young players to keep our playoff hopes alive, we have to all admit it was a great ride. Next season could be even better as the team will start out in Helsinki and host the 2011 NHL All-Star game. So start getting pumped for next season Caniacs its going to be another great ride.