Metropolitan Division Preview: The Carolina Hurricanes


March 2, 2013; Raleigh, NC, USA; Carolina Hurricanes goalie

Cam Ward

(30) makes save on a shot by Florida Panthers right wing

Peter Mueller

(88) during the third period at the PNC center. The Hurricanes defeated the Panthers, 6-2. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

The Carolina Hurricanes are looking to improve on last years performance, which left much to be desired in Raleigh.  The team has not made the playoffs since the 2008 – 09 season and organization hopes to rectify that in the upcoming season.

The 2013 season marked the worst finish for the Hurricanes since their last playoff berth. They finished thirteenth out of fifteen teams in the Eastern Conference and 26th out of the 30 teams in the entire league with a disappointing record of 19 wins, 25 losses and 4 overtime losses.

The  need to improve lies in many aspects of their game, but one position that needs to more than others in order for Carolina to have success is in their own net.  The team’s number one goalie, Cam Ward (29 years old) played only 19 games last season before being sidelined with a third-degree MCL sprain.  The healthy return of Ward is great news for the team and will help them to a great degree.  Carolina finished 29th out of 30 teams in goals against-per-game last season averaging 3.31 over the 48 game season.

Key Returnees:

April 23, 2013; Raleigh, NC, USA; Carolina Hurricanes center

Jiri Tlusty

(19) carries the puck against the New York Islanders at the PNC center. The Hurricanes defeated the Islanders 4-3 in a shoot out. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Jiri Tlusty – LW – 25 years old
2013: 23 Goals 15 Assists 38 Points +15

Tlusty lead the team last season with 23 goals and proved to be a dominant force not just in the offensive zone but also defensively.  Finishing with 38 points and a +15 rating shows that Tlusty is a dynamic two-way player.

Eric Staal – C – 28 years old
2013: 18 Goals 35 Assists 53 Points +5

Staal has been, and continues to be the heart and soul of the Hurricanes and serves as their leader and captain.  Leading the team last season with 53 points he showed that even at 28 years old he is capable of being the best player on the ice on a given night.

Cam Ward – G – 29 years old
2013: 9 Wins 5 Losses 1 Overtime Loss .908 Save% 2.84 Goals Against Average

Ward missed much of the 2013 season with a third-degree MCL sprain, he returns this season healthy, and with much to prove.  Cam will take over the starting role upon his return in hope that he can return to the promised land.

Alexander Semin – RW – 29 years old
2013: 13 Goals 31 Assists 44 Points +14

Semin has general been known as a dynamic offensive producer who tends to forget his defensive responsibilities throughout a game and a season.  However last season while tallying 44 points in 48 games Semin managed to post a +14 rating and show that he could provide support for the Canes on both sides of the puck.

Key Departures:

Joe Corvo – D – 36 years old – signed a 1-year deal with Ottawa

April 18, 2013; Winnipeg, MB, CAN; Carolina Hurricanes defense Joe Corvo (77) carries the puck from behind the net during the second period against the Winnipeg Jets at the MTS Centre. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

2013: 6 Goals 11 Assists 17 Points -3

Corvo may not have put up stellar numbers in the 2013 season but he was a veteran presence a leader on the blue-line for club.  A veteran presence could make a large difference when it comes to a particular team’s success, however the Hurricanes did not see the value in resigning Corvo.

Dan Ellis – G – 33 years old – signed a 2-year deal with Dallas
2013: 6 Wins 8 Losses 2 Overtime Losses 1 Shootout Loss .906 Save% 3.13 Goals Against Average

Ellis began the 2013 season as the Hurricanes back up goaltender before Cam Ward was sidelined for the season.  Ellis split the remainder of the season with Justin Peters, both appearing in nineteen games.  This season the Canes will turn to former Bruins’ back-up Anton Khudobin to support Cam Ward.

Jussi Jokinen – LW – 30 years old – traded to Pittsburgh last season
2013: 13 Goals 9 Assists 22 Points -5

Jokinen was the type of player who provided the veteran know-how and mentoring to young players trying to make it in the NHL, but he also could contribute offensively.  He tallied 22 points last season, eleven with the Hurricanes and eleven with the Penguins.

Carolina needs to improve on their Special Teams play if they hope to be serious contenders in the upcoming season.  They ranked 27th out of 30 teams on the power play scoring on only 14.6% of their chances and 28th out of 30 on the penalty kill killing off 77.6% of their penalties.

Eyes On Isles Pre-Season Rating:

Offense – C+
Defense – C
Goaltending – B
Special Teams – C-
Division Difficulty – 5/5
Overall – C+

-Shane Blackburn (@ShaneB_WSIA)