Competition is Good for Hurricanes

Carolina Hurricanes v Philadelphia Flyers
Carolina Hurricanes v Philadelphia Flyers / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages

The trade deadline made many teams a lot better but the Carolina Hurricanes improved their roster. This team was already considered deep with talent but adding offensively gifted players to the forward group has pushed some players that were struggling to fight for not just playing time but also dressing for the games. Competition is good for a team and this talented group of forwards will be fighting for a spot in the top 12.

Evgeny Kuznetsov and Jake Guentzel are not players that are acquired to sit out the big moments or watch the game from the press box. These veterans were brought to Raleigh to elevate the offensive game that was lacking in playoffs past.

Three players who will ultimately be playing for their playoff lives in the coming weeks are Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Jack Drury, and Brendan Lemieux. Lemieux is a player who can be a spark plug throughout any playoff series but has played well enough to earn more than a random playoff appearance.

Kotkaniemi has had a disappointing season, to say the least, but has very good skill and is a proven playoff performer. Drury has elevated his game in the second part of this season and has taken a big stride in his development.

The topping on the cake for the Canes is that both players are centermen. They can both play strong at the faceoff dot with both having an over 50% faceoff success. More importantly, both players are strong on their end and quick enough to compete with the higher pace in the postseason.

Drury currently has more points than Kotkaniemi with 27 but is battling an injury and is out of the lineup. Returning soon, it will be important to get Drury up to speed to have a strong chance at the playoffs.

With the bump up in scoring talent at the trade deadline, the high skill from Kotkaniemi is not needed as much and his careless play at times would offset that offensive skill. Drury is the steadier of the two and plays a simpler game that fits the playoffs. Having said that, his skill ceiling has not been reached at this level, and can still chip in offensively.

It will be a good competition down the stretch and something for fans to keep an eye on before the playoffs begin next month.