Too Little Too Late for Canes


The Carolina Hurricanes have started out the new year with an impressive 9-3-3 record.  If the season had started on January 1st, it looks like the Canes would have had a good shot at a playoff spot and been a true contender.  Unfortunately, their recent success has come too late once again.  After digging themselves into a big hole in the first half of the year, the Hurricanes have no legitimate shot to make the playoffs and find themselves tied with the Arizona Coyotes for 3rd worst in the NHL.

Perhaps the worst part of it all is that the Hurricanes have started to play well right after they got themselves out of playoff contention, which means that they are now just ruining their chances at a top 2 draft pick in the McDavid-Eichel sweepstakes.  It’s tough to not root against the Hurricanes at this point, in hopes that they can still make up the 10 points that separate them from worst in the NHL and 1st pick at the draft.

It’s amazing what a good coach and a healthy Jordan Staal can do.  As well as the team has played of late, they still do not have enough talent to compete with the best of the NHL.  The Hurricanes have been winning with sub-par defensive personnel and an offense that has scored without the help of Alexander Semin and Jeff Skinner–arguably the Canes two most natural goal scorers. The power play continues to show improvement night in and night out and the Hurricanes found their penalty kill to be number one in the NHL only a few days ago.  It’s apparent that Bill Peters was the right man for the job, and his system works.  Although the Canes just gave up four goals to the San Jose Sharks, it is usually pretty rare for the team to let in more than three.  The Hurricanes are a really good defensive team and their defense consists of Justin Faulk, Andrej Sekera, Ryan Murphy, Tim Gleason, John-Michael Liles, Ron Hainsey, and Brett Bellemore–only two top four defenseman.  Meanwhile, Jordan Staal has helped lead the charge since returning to the lineup.  His slotting into the first line center role has allowed Eric Staal to flourish at the wing, and other players to slot in at their correct places in the lineup.

The Hurricanes even have had secondary scoring, a feat that hasn’t been there for the past few seasons.  The fourth line of Jay McClement, Brad Malone, and Patrick Dwyer has been outstanding of late, providing high energy shifts, physical play, and goal scoring.  It’s the best fourth line the Hurricanes have had since Kevyn and Craig Adams were in Raleigh.

However, with every Hurricanes win, the two points they earn just puts them farther and farther away from a top two draft pick.  The dream of Connor McDavid is getting more unlikely by the day and as always, the Hurricanes will probably find themselves with a pick in the 5-10 range.  It’s pretty clear that the Canes are not a bottom three NHL team at this point, but that doesn’t change where they sit at in the standings.

Finally, the NHL trade deadline will be an interesting period of time for the team, as trade rumors have been swirling around the likes of Andrej Sekera, Jiri Tlusty, and Cam Ward.  If the Canes cannot sign Sekera or Tlusty for the right term and price, they have expressed that they will trade the two players by the March 2nd deadline.  Personally, I am in favor of trading both players for picks and prospects.  With the current supply and the demand of pending unrestricted free agents, Sekera and Tlusty should be able to fetch a first and second round draft pick, respectively.  When is the last time the Carolina Hurricanes have held two first round draft picks in the draft?  Good luck looking.  As much as I like Sekera, he is not worth five million dollars a year for the next four to five years–a contract that he can likely obtain in the free agent market.  Likewise, Jiri Tlusty is a player that the Hurricanes can survive without.  After seeing David Perron fetch a first round pick with his trade to Pittsburgh, I think Tlusty could garner similar value.

Caniacs will soon see who leaves and who stays, and where the Canes are picking at the draft.  Although the Canes are not playoff bound and will likely not have a top-2 draft pick come June, it is easy to see that there is hope for the organization’s future.

More from Cardiac Cane