The Soviet Union, many scholars portend, was brought down by a combination of Levi’s jeans, a backward cowboy hat, and Star Wars. No…not that Star Wars. The space exploration/ intergalactic warfare program the Reagan Administration fabricated to make the Soviets trade things like food for spaceships to keep with the United States or else they lose the arms race, that was the Cold War.
Much like 1980’s there is a lot of talk of an arms race surrounding the Metro Division as the trade deadline approaches. What team is getting which player, and are the other teams getting too far ahead of everyone else?
Who has more missiles and are the Soviets getting better missiles? It’s pretty much the same thing.
Bo Horvat has signed with New York, and for a ton of money. Timo Meier could end up on a very good New Jersey team that is currently 5 points behind the Carolina Hurricanes.
Patrick Kane is fair game for trade, and could be just what a Metro Division team like the 3rd place New York Rangers think they need to catch the Canes.
The Carolina Hurricanes have found themselves at a crossroads in front of the rest of the Metro Division and one day closer to the trade deadline.
Do they take the stance similar to the Soviet Union, and try to play catch up to teams that have acquired big names?
Is the hold pat and play what they have route better?
With a little bluff, bluster, and down right being easier to defend than a country the size of the former Soviet Union worked for the Americans. Bluff, bluster, and being down right better could actually work for the Carolina Hurricanes in the Metro Division, without making a trade that absolutely bankrupts them.
Carolina is currently in first place in the Metro Division by 5 points over the New Jersey Devils. The Canes are 9 points ahead of third place New York Rangers and a full 19 over the New York Islanders.
Second place New Jersey is 3- 2 in their last 5. New York is 3-2 but have dropped their last two. Carolina is 4-1 in 5 since the All-Star Break and on a four game winning streak.
New Jersey and New York face schedules that are not nearly as favorable as Carolina’s. The Devils and Rangers both will be living out of (to quote Forrest Gump) “their hat cases, and suit cases, and simple cases,” while the Hurricanes will be at PNC Arena more than anywhere else for the rest of the season.
Both the Devils and Rangers will be on the road for 9 games during the month of March. Two times, New Jersey has to play back to back home/away games. New York only has one, but faces three short road trips. Carolina will have 8 away games, but 3 of those are sandwiched between home games with days off between. Their two road trips are bookended with at least one day off as well. Carolina is also currently on a five game road winning streak dating back to before the All-Star Break.
If recent records and immediate schedules are enough to convince you the Canes have an advantage over their closest competition in the Metro Division arms race with out making a trade, perhaps across the board offensive production would be enough.
Just to show just how evenly spread out Carolina’s offense is, 10 Hurricanes have 10 or more goals for the year. Top goal scorers Sebastian Aho (25) and Martin Necas (22) have a combined 4 goals this month alone. Their bottom two Jesperi Kotkaniemi (10) and Brady Skjei (10) have 3 in that same period of time.
Only 7 Devils surpass the 10 or more goals this season. New Jersey’s top goal scorers Jack Hughes (25) and Jesper Bratt (23), have for 6 goals in February. The bottom two scores (with 10 or more) Yegor Sharangovich (12) and Tomas Tater (12) have just 3.
A paltry 8 Rangers are currently over the 10 goal mark. Mika Zibanejad (30) and Chris Kreider (24) sit as New York’s top two scorers. They have combined to light the lamp 12 times since the calendar flipped to February. However, on the bottom Kaapo Kakko (11) and Adam Fox (10) have only blown the horn twice.
Only in total scores in their last five does either New Jersey or New York beat Carolina. In the course of their last 5, Carolina has tacked 19 on their opposites. 16 for New Jersey and New York does have 24.
What smart people, versed in the ways of the Cold War geopolitical landscape figured out was that it was simply better to walk, not run in an arms race. With some hindsight, modern history has shown that the side that forces their opponent THINK they have more is the victor. NASA did not build any space station that can shoot lasers at the Soviet Union, and they did not need to. Making the Soviets think they did was enough.
The Hurricanes find themselves in similar circumstances. Carolina could quite possibly be better off making New Jersey think they need Timo Meir, the Islanders think they need to throw money at Bo Horvat and make the Rangers think they need to go after a big name.
All the while, the Canes can operate with cap space to spare, and have money enough to resign major roster players next year. Where other teams in the Metro Division go for the big trade without money to afford it, Carolina can sit tight and win it all with no, or minor adjustments.
Only time will tell, but judging the Hurricanes since the All-Star Break, it would appear that they have their cowboy hat on the right way, and can make a very serious run at Lord Stanley’s Cup.