After losing to the Colorado Avalanche at home, where are the Carolina Hurricanes going to go from here?
They were so close. So agonizingly close. About a month ago, the Carolina Hurricanes were within 1 point of the playoff cut line with games in hand. Everything finally looked to be shaping up for the long struggling Hurricanes and their fans. How naive we all were.
With last night’s home loss to the NHL’s worst team, the Colorado Avalanche, the Hurricanes will almost surely miss the playoffs for the 8th straight season.
It can’t be all doom and gloom though. There are still 28 more games this season for the Canes, that’s well over a quarter of the season to go. Also, the trade deadline is fast approaching. There is opportunity to turn things around and be an even better team in April and eventually this October.
Deadline Deal Makers
While the Canes have been pursuing big ticket names like Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog, Carolina should now be looking to sell at the deadline. That means at least 1 or 2 veterans are going to be moved for picks to contender/playoff teams.
One of those players will surely be Ron Hainsey. The 35 year old has been a Hurricane for the last 4 seasons and put together an almost 900 game NHL career. Despite that, he has never once played in the playoffs. To avoid that tragedy, expect the Canes to move him to a playoff team. That way he gets to taste the postseason at least once before he retires.
Also, don’t be surprised to see a similar trade like the one made to get Teuvo Teravainen from Chicago. With lots of picks and cap room, Carolina can essential steal cheap young players off cap strapped teams. Chicago’s GM Stan Bowman has said he won’t move his rookies, but with little money to work with, Carolina might look to acquire someone like Nick Schmaltz, Ryan Hartman, or prospect Alex DeBrincat from the Blackhawks.
Prioritize Draft Position
Yes, good old tanking. It has been a topic of discussion for the last few years with many teams clearly doing it. This season, the Hurricanes shouldn’t be in thermonuclear, blow everything up mode. However, securing a good drafting spot should be a priority.
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Unlike the last two drafts that have had generational talents at the top end, this year’s draft is a substantial notch below. For context, scouts have said that projected 1st overall pick Nolan Patrick could end up anywhere from a franchise center to a simple second line center. This year doesn’t have the fire power of years past.
That makes it important for Carolina to get a decently high pick. The value at each spot likely won’t yield the same quality as it would have if you picked there in 2015 or 2016. Acquiring a higher pick would help limit the possibility of not receiving max value in this upcoming draft.
Solve the Goalie Problem
It should be mentioned that Cam Ward was not bad last night against the Avs. In fact, his team let him down. This has happened, but it isn’t the trend. More times than not this season (and the last few years), goaltending has hurt Carolina’s ability to win.
On paper, I would argue this is best Canes team since they last made the playoffs. Yes, there are some consistency issues offensively and with the powerplay, but this group is good enough to be a playoff team, or at the minimum contend into April. That just won’t happen with the current situation in net.
Either at the trade deadline or at the draft or in free agency, the Carolina Hurricanes need to fix the problems at the goaltending position. The issues in the blue paint are hindering development everywhere else. It is overshadowing other growth areas in this team’s rebuild. Something has to change.