Dale Money Aug 19th, 2019
The Carolina Hurricanes were finally able to crack that decade long playoff drought. First-year head coach Rod Brind’Amour led them to a 99 point season, good enough for the 7th seed. Once in the playoffs, the Hurricanes were able to knock off both the defending Cup winner Washington Capitals as well as the New York Islanders, before eventually succumbing to the Boston Bruins in the Conference Finals. Can they manage to carry the success further next season, or will they end going a step backward in their progression?
The Hurricanes went into the 2019 draft with a vast number of picks, 12 selections throughout seven rounds. Their first selection being Ryan Suzuki, you could say he was a minor steal at the 28th pick. What they are getting with Suzuki is a true playmaker, someone that has no shortage of skills in his arsenal. One of the top skaters in the Draft, he can beat defenders wide and accelerate to the front of the net with his speed. Can shift gears while rushing the puck, which effectively catches defenders off-guard.
His puck control, playmaking, creativity, and offensive vision are good enough that he has the potential to become a solid top-six forward in the NHL. He adds to that already very deep group of forward prospects, in the Hurricanes system. Still only 18 years of age, he should spend at least another year with Barrie in the OHL.
Pyotr Kochetkov was ranked amongst the three best goaltenders in the draft. In the U20 World Juniors last year, Kochetkov played admirably in net for Russia backstopping them to a bronze medal as well as winning top goaltender in the tournament. He is currently under contract with SKA St. Petersburg for the next two seasons. Once he has finished out the two years, he should be seasoned enough to bypass the AHL and step right into the NHL.
After a superb first season as general manager, Dom Waddell will continue on as president and general manager, signing a three-year contract extension. Waddell has worked in the organization since 2014, starting out as President of Gale Force Sports & Entertainment before he took over the role of general manager from Ron Francis in 2018. There was some speculation he was a potential candidate for the Minnesota Wild’s GM vacancy, but nothing on that end came to fruition.
The Hurricanes focused a lot on their goaltending situation, resigning both Petr Mrazek and Alex Nedeljkovic. They also acquired James Reimer and Anton Forsberg, through separate trades. Having hovered around 500 last season with the Panthers, the hope for Reimer is that he can have a nice rebound season providing a nice one-two combination alongside Mrazek.
The club added to the offensive depth, acquiring Erik Haula through a trade with the Vegas Golden Knights, in exchange for Nicolas Roy and a conditional fifth-round selection in the 2021 NHL Draft. It was only two years ago that Haula put up 29 goals during the Golden Knights cinderella run.
They also picked up Ryan Dzingel, signing him to a two year 6.75 million dollar contract. Just 27 years of age, he has plenty of good years left in him, posting his best numbers last season between the Columbus Bluejackets and Ottawa Senators. He should fit in well on that third line, with speed to burn and good offensive upside.
The Hurricanes would need to match the Montreal Canadiens $42.27-million offer sheet to keep Sebastian Aho for the next five years. Just 21 years of age Aho had a career year in his third season, leading the team with 83 points and will look to build upon it.
The goaltending situation should be an interesting one, look for them to go with a timeshare for at least another season. With Curtis McElhinney now gone, they’re going to need another player to turn to. I look for Reimer to fill the spot however there is no guarantee, with a number of names on the depth chart looking to battle for that role. Nedeljkovic is one of the main threats, but could just as easily get another year of seasoning with the Charlotte Checkers.
Former Hartford Whalers goaltender Jason Muzzatti was hired recently to be the next goaltending coach. Having just finished a four-year tenure as the goaltender coach for the Michigan State Spartans. Muzzatti brings a host of experience, having played for over 16 seasons including leagues in Italy and Germany. He also has some history with Brind’Amour, both played together with the Spartans back in 1988.
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