The biggest forward signing for the Carolina Hurricanes this summer was Nathan Gerbe, but at the time it was not a sure thing the former Sabre would make the opening night roster. At this point it looks like Gerbe will make the team, but the question is, how much offense can he contribute to the Hurricanes?
Last season was a disappointing one for Gerbe as he only scored 10 points in 42 games. The Sabres decided they no longer wanted to pay the 5-foot-6 forward, buying out his contract and sending him into free agency.
The Hurricanes signed Gerbe on July 26 to a two-way deal paying $550,000 in the NHL.
So far through preseason and training camp, Gerbe has impressed the Canes staff scoring one goal in the team’s last preseason game against the Montreal Canadiens and playing mainly with Jordan Staal through training camp.
Gerbe is likely to stick with Staal and Tuomo Ruutu when the season starts in nine days.
With Staal as the passer and Ruutu as the tough guy in the corners and in front of the net, Gerbe may become the trigger man on the line, shooting the most pucks out of the trio.
Gerbe’s most successful scoring season came in 2010-11 when the 26-year-old scored 16 goals. The Canes could use offensive depth like that this season as last season goals were hard to come by past the first line.
Gerbe should have every possibility to make that happen, but it may not be likely to duplicate those numbers. The Hurricanes are moving into possibly the toughest division in hockey and Gerbe’s line will focus on defense as much as offense.
The second line will have to create goals through transition and opportunities rather than controlled play in the offensive zone.
Gerbe could score 15-20 goals this season, if his line can become a prominent scoring trio, but it’s more likely that Gerbe puts in 10-14 this season.