The Carolina Hurricanes had one of the best seasons that the fans in Raleigh have experienced in recent memory. We witnessed growth before our very eyes and saw a team develop into one the league’s best. The division may be stacked with talent, but only one team made it to the eastern conference finals, and it was us.
This offseason added to the continued development and seems to propel it. Don Waddell hasn’t just been great in his role, he’s been a magician; and this offseason has solidified that fact. The additions of Eric Haula, and Ryan Dzingel strengthened a forward group that faltered early in the season but found life late. There was no team in hockey that was better from January to the playoffs than the Hurricanes, and that was partially because of the chemistry found in the forwards.
The first order of business was re-singing leading scorer Sebastian Aho, which was accomplished with a little help from our friends in Montreal. Locking up the next two years of NHL service from surprise number one goaltender Petr Mrazek, was also important before Waddell went on to upgrade the already deep roster.
Eric Haula is, at worst, a 20-goal scorer when healthy. Ryan Dzingel has scored over 20 Goals three times in his four-year NHL career and is coming off a career high 56 point season. Adding these goal scorers to a forward group that boasts two players who had over 50 assists, and six players with 20 goals or more shows the amount of sheer fire power that this team boasts.
The Defense group does take a hit losing Calvin De Haan, who was a steady veteran prescence on a blueline that was relied upon heavily by head coach Rod Brind’Amour. Although it is a noticeable absence, the Hurricanes defensive corps. is so deep that they are still one of hockey’s best; boasting three defensemen with over 30 points, and Brett Pesce who was just shy with 29. Two of these defensemen also scored double digit goals, with Dougie Hamilton racking up 18; second most among defenseman in 2018.
The Hurricanes are deep, but the one position of concern is the goaltender. This concern isn’t great however, as Mrazek had a bounce back year that saw him play inspired hockey late in the season. Who will back up the second year Hurricane is a greater question. James Reimer is an option, as he has been a steady backup in the past, but the more likely option is Alex Nedeljkovic, who was just chosen as the best goaltender in the American Hockey League.
Is Mrazek Magic Here to Stay?
Petr Mrazek has had a tumultuous career to this point. He was excellent, but one has to wonder if his inconsistencies will return to plague him yet again, or if his reformed play is what we can expect from here on out.
Yet to sign a contract, the situation regarding Justin Williams return or retire still ways heavy on this offseason. Fans want the captain to return to lead the charge yet again, but if he doesn’t, can this team still power through the grind of the year without the team’s father figure?
Is Svechnikov Ready to Join Elite Company?
Andrei Svechnikov had himself an incredible rookie season. Watching him play, there was a palpable excitement as to who this kid could eventual become. The question is, is he ready to take that next step as early as next season?
Second or Third in the Division