The Carolina Hurricanes broke my heart in 2002. It was Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals, they were ahead in the series 3-2 against my Maple Leafs, and were winning the game 1-0 with under a minute to go.
Mats Sundin tied the game with 21.8 seconds left and the building went crazy.
The Leafs lost in overtime and were eliminated from the playoffs.
I hold grudges when it comes to sports.
The Hurricanes have been going through a slow rebuild. They’ve only had a top ten pick, four times since 2006. Though they’ve been poor on the ice, they haven’t been bad enough to warrant a pick higher than number five. It’s a shame.
Jordan Staal (C) – He came over from Pittsburgh in 2012 to join his brother Eric. Eric has since left. Jordan is a great defensive forward, who’s ceiling is 50 points in a season. He’s ideal for a second line role.
Jeff Skinner (LW) – After a promising rookie season in 2011-12 where he put up 63 points, his career never took off the way I thought it would. That being said, last season he put up 63 points again, 37 of which were goals. Could he be taking that next step?
Sebastian Aho (LW) – The 20-year-old from Finland put up 49 points in 82 games last season – his first in the NHL. He could find himself on a line with Staal and Elias Lindholm.
Elias Lindholm (C/RW) – The 5th overall pick in the 2013 draft put up a career-high 45 points last season. Sean Monahan went 6th in that draft and has blossomed into a consistent 20 goal scorer and 60-point player. Perhaps Lindholm will find his scoring touch with age, or with new offensive line mates.
Notable: Victor Rask (C), Justin Williams (RW), Teuvo Teravainen (LW)
Too many players on this team put up 40-50 points. The need a couple of players to breakout this season.
The Hurricanes defense is ahead of the forwards in terms of the rebuild. They boasted an all American blue line at stages last season.
Justin Faulk (25) – He’s an offensive-minded defenseman who will anchor the power-play and likely represent the team at the All-Star Game.
Noah Hanifin (20) – He’s already played two seasons in the NHL and he’s not even 20. Hanifin is the kind of player that scouts will look at and say, “He’s a talented, all-around defenseman” and everyone else will agree with them because it’s true.
Jaccob Slavin (23) – Slavin averaged over 23 minutes/game last season. He’s a shut down defenseman who will be seen on the penalty kill.
Brett Pesce (22) – Other than Faulk, Pesce is the third defenseman I’ve mentioned who is 6’3. This is a big blue line. Proceed with your head up, forwards.
Notable: Trevor van Riemsdyk (26), Jake Bean (2016 1st round pick)
Cam Ward (33) – Ward helped win them the Stanley Cup as a rookie in 2006 and was named the Conn Smythe winner (MVP of the playoffs). Remarkably, he had only played 28 games during the regular season. His statistics haven’t been impressive in recent seasons, but neither have the players in front of him. He started 61 games last season, but that number is likely to go way down this year.
Scott Darling (28) – Darling was acquired during the off-season and given a 4-year contract. You don’t do that unless you intend to start him…a lot. He’s never started more than 27 games in a season at the NHL level, but has been a reliable backup for Chicago. Then again, it’s Chicago. It’ll be interesting to see if Darling can shine on a younger, less experienced team.
Jonathan Bernier, a perennial backup, getting traded to the Leafs in 2013, is what comes to mind when I think of Darling being acquired by the Hurricanes. Hopefully, he has more success than Bernier did in Toronto.
1. Ron Francis is the General Manager. He played six seasons in Carolina before ending his career in Toronto in 2004. I always have to mention the Leafs in these previews and I’m not sorry.
2. The Hurricanes have missed the playoffs in 14 of their 19 seasons. However, in the 5 seasons they made the playoffs, they made the Stanley Cup Final twice, and won it once. That’s impressive.
3. They were last in the league in attendance last season.
4. You could get season tickets for as low as $688 this year. In Toronto, $688 will get you two tickets to one game.
5. Arturs Irbe had the biggest goalie pads I’ve ever seen and I’m still extremely bitter about it. Yes, he was on that 2002 team that.
WHAT CHRIS THINKS
Sweet Carolina, these guys are living on a prayer.
LAST MINUTE OF PLAY
For as bad as the Hurricanes have been in recent history, they were only eight points out of the playoffs last season. In the grand scheme of things, that’s not terrible.
They are putting together a defense core that could be the best in the NHL in a few years. As for their forwards, they are lacking that big name player that everyone else can feed off of.
Last season, they had the 6th best penalty kill and were the least penalized team in the league. That’s pretty impressive for a young team.
This team isn’t bad enough to get a top pick and they’re not yet good enough to make the playoffs. That’s a tough place to be.
ONE WILD PREDICTION
The Hurricanes will trade one of their defenseman in a package for Matt Duchene.
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Twitter: @CappyTalks – #31inNot31