Following a disappointing first season in Raleigh, the Carolina Hurricanes came into training camp with a slightly retooled lineup. The goal? A return to the postseason.
This is the fourth installment in my Carolina Hurricanes season-by-season retrospective. If you missed any of the prior installments, you can find them here:
After giving fans their first taste of the Stanley Cup playoffs in 1999, the Carolina Hurricanes struggled to maintain their momentum. As such, they missed the 2000 NHL postseason by one point. With the top-six forwards set, general manager Jim Rutherford went in search of depth to augment the roster.
With this goal in mind, Rutherford added role players Rob DiMaio, Darren Langdon, and Scott Pellerin. The GM also wanted to shore up the defense, signing veteran blueliner (and five-time All-Star) Kevin Hatcher. Rutherford knew that Hatcher could contribute but, at 34 and on the downside of his career, wouldn’t be enough on his own.
On June 24, 2000, Rutherford sent Nolan Pratt and a package of draft picks to the Colorado Avalanche for offensively-inclined defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh. Ozolinsh, who had racked up four 50-point seasons in Colorado, was brought in to spark the power play. While he did deal with a knee injury, the Latvian defender did cobble together a decent offensive season for the Hurricanes.
The biggest loss came with the loss of Gary Roberts. The physical winger, who had rejuvenated his career with the Hurricanes, signed as a free agent with the Toronto Maple Leafs after a 23 goal, 53 point campaign.
With the core set and complementary pieces in place, the question became whether the Hurricanes could make a return trip to the postseason.