Middletown, N. J. – The next stop of the EyesOnIsles off-season tour of the Fansided network takes us down south to Carolina as we query about the Hurricanes disappointing 2013 season and have a look ahead to training camp in September.
If you analyze the season for the Canes, it is not difficult to see why they finished 19-25-4 and in 3th place in the Southeast division, 13 points out of the 8th and final playoff spot in the Eastern conference.
Offense was middle of the pack at 13th, averaging 2.6 goals per game but it would be defensively and on special teams that would sink Carolina to the depths of early 2013 season retirement. Allowing 3.3 goals per game, which was 29th in the entire league and combining that with the 27th ranked power play and 28th ranked penalty kill, it would have been difficult for any team of varying skill to make waves.
To make matters even worse heading into the summer, team captain Eric Staal suffered a scary looking knee injury playing in the World Championships and will spend the entire off-season rehabbing and not training. Staal has been extremely durable during his NHL career, missing only 14 games over 9 seasons and is the unquestioned leader of the squad. A fine 2013 saw him post 18-35-53 in 48 games to lead the team in scoring. Alexander Semin, signed before the season from the Washington Capitals, also had a nice first year in Carolina with 13-31-44 in 44 games and showing much more defensive prowess than ever before that earned him a 5 year contract extension at 7mm. With Jordan Staal and Jeff Skinner also locked up long term, the Canes definitely do not have to worry about offense any time soon. Their transition game is certainly fun to watch.
Defensively, its a mess. With Joe Corvo scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent after leading the blue line in scoring with 6-11-17 in 40 games they might be wise to try and sign him, as he provides decent enough offensive skill with veteran leadership at age 35. Justin Faulk will provide tons of value in the future and is one of the brightest stars in the league but they clearly need to surround the youngster with additional talent and allow the full unit to gel over a season or two.
29 year old goaltender Cam Ward did not provide the season that management and fans expected for 6.3mm as he struggled mightily to a 2.84 GAA and .908 save percentage before getting injured. Ward has a career 2.74 GAA in 431 starts and that contract, at the present moment, is not looking like it will benefit Carolina in the long run.
Let’s see what Wes has to said in response to my questions….
1. What is the Canes biggest off-season need and how do you see them filling it?
Re-tooling the bottom six. Right now the Hurricanes have a bottom six that does not have much of an identity. For the most part, they are skilled players that are just thrown together. GM Jim Rutherford needs to replace those players with ones that are hard-workers and excel defensively. The hope is that those players would also be able to play the penalty kill and give the Staal brothers more of a rest throughout the season.
After a disappointing season and missing the playoffs, what do the Canes have to do to rebound?
There really isn’t that much the Hurricanes need to work on. Their team was decimated by injuries, but with a full roster, the team has a great chance of making the playoffs next season. The Canes need to be able to overcome adversity, which was something they had a problem with late in the season with the injuries to Cam Ward and Joni Pitkanen.
What young player do you see making the greatest leap and impact in 2013-2014?
Ryan Murphy should make a big impact on the Canes roster next season. He played four games with the team this season, but was sent back to his junior team before playing with the Charlotte Checkers’ during their playoffs. Murphy should be able to improve Carolina’s puck-moving on the bottom-pairing and replace Jamie McBain, who will likely be traded in the offseason.
We would like to thank Wes for his time and answers. Please head on over and give his site a look as well as telling your friends about it. Truly some solid, well written articles if you are looking for your fill of Hurricanes news.