With the notable exception of the Minnesota Wild, I think it’s fair to say that there weren’t many teams in the NHL who were nearly as active this past offseason as the Carolina Hurricanes.
It’s taken some time… a lockout that lasted way too long for hockey fans, players, coaches, and owners has finally come to an end, and fans of the Canes finally get to see all of the hard work their front office and players have put into make this team a contender.
The two big additions? Well, you’ve probably heard by now. Jordan Staal and Alexander Semin. Two high-profile, hugely capable players that are going to greatly impact how effectively the Hurricanes score.
Staal came at a steep price… the Canes had to fork over center Brandon Sutter, the extremely young and talented defender Brian DuMoulin, and the eighth overall pick in the 2012 entry draft.
All of that seemed like a lot for a player who had one year left on his contract and had just turned down a 10-year, $60 million contract from the contending Pittsburgh Penguins. But after the trade, Staal, clearly interested in playing for the Hurricanes alongside the ever-talented brother Eric Staal, signed with the Hurricanes with that exact same deal.
Semin came in free agency. A high-risk, high-reward player, the Canes didn’t see fit to gamble on a multi-year deal, and surprisingly, the eccentric Semin signed for a one-year, $7 million dollar deal.
Along with the already present pieces in Eric Staal, Jeff Skinner, Jiri Tlusty, and Chad LaRose, the additions of Jordan Staal and Alexander Semin have made this team as dangerous as they come when it comes to putting the puck in the net.
With the lockout-shorterend season of 48 games, it is difficult to say what kind of production each of these players will get. It’s also tough to say if they’ve had enough time to mesh together to play a cohesive, team-oriented brand of hockey.
But when it comes right down to it, the moves that the front office made this offseason were pretty brilliant. You can expect the defense to be improved over last season, Cam Ward will have less to worry about when guarding his net, and even on a bad defensive night, the Canes will still be able to relentlessly push offensively on all of their lines.
Most people are picking the Canes to be a mid-to-low seed playoff team. Maybe I’m just being a fanboy, but in a division that is completely wide-open, I don’t see why the Canes can’t win the division and go in as a top-four seed. Stranger things have happened.
One storyline that will be exciting to watch as the season progresses will be the bond between the Staal brothers. These are two of the most talented players in the NHL, and after growing up playing hockey together, the chemistry they have on the ice when they’re playing together could be quite interesting.
It’s an exciting year to be a Hurricanes fan… even if it is only for a few months this time around.