It always seems to be all or nothing with these Carolina Hurricanes. In their 13-year existence they have missed the playoffs seven times but they have also reached the Stanley Cup Finals twice and the Eastern Conference Finals three times.
Unfortunately this year has more the look of a ‘nothing’ year than an ‘all’ year.
They regressed from 97 points in 2008-09 and a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals, to 80 points and a third-place finish in the Southeast Division last year. The Hurricanes realized the window of opportunity was closing shut on its veteran roster, but they took one last chance to make a run for the cup. However, that window slammed shut on their fingers.
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The season built on veterans got off to a horrid start and even a late-season rally could not salvage the campaign. So Carolina is starting anew with plenty of youth and plenty of questions. This is a full-fledged rebuilding process.
Gone are two of the veterans who defined this team: Ray Whitney and Rob Brind’Amour. The only way fans may recognize the Hurricanes is by their colors and veteran holdovers, captain Eric Staal and goalie Cam Ward. Even in the midst of their massive overhaul Carolina was not about to lose their superstar Staal (29 goals and 41 assists last season). The moves made by Carolina had to be done, but they also must frustrate the 25-year old Staal, who is entering the prime of his career and ready to compete for a Stanley Cup now.
The Carolina Hurricanes schedule has them on the road for six of their first seven games. They open the season at Minnesota on Thursday, Oct. 7, and host the Wild the very next night. Towards the end of the month Carolina has a critical stretch from Oct. 27 – Nov. 1 when they play Southeast Division favorite Washington, Eastern Conference favorite Pittsburgh and the defending Eastern Conference champion Flyers.
About the only area Carolina looked decent in last year was goal-scoring. Their 2.8 goals per game ranked 13th in the league, the only category they were not in the bottom-third of the league in. They will need to match or exceed that this season. For that to happen Jussi Jokinen (30 goals, 35 assists) and Brandon Sutter (21 goals and 19 assists) will have to maintain their output from a year ago.
After trading away defensemen Joe Corvo in March, the Hurricanes brought him back onboard this offseason. Other additions include former Edmonton center Patrick O’Sullivan and defensemen Anton Babchuk, who returns to the NHL after a year in Russia. Whitney and Brind’Amour were not the only departed, but their losses will be felt the most. Carolina also parted ways with Tim Conboy, Brian Pothier and Alexandre Picard.
Carolina Hurricanes Predictions: Outlook
By keeping Staal and Ward Carolina is not exactly starting from scratch, but very close to it. This new group of players will need time to adjust and, for the most part, grow up a little bit. The Hurricanes play in the extremely week Southeast Division and they could be right there in the mix of things with Florida, Tampa Bay and Atlanta for that second spot behind Washington. But last year that second spot was only good enough for 10th place in the Eastern Conference.
Carolina Hurricanes Futures Odds
A year after finishing with 80 points, Carolina’s ‘over/under’ for points is 86.5. They are long shots to win the Southeast Division (+2000), Eastern Conference (+4000) and Stanley Cup (+6000). NHL odds are courtesy of BetUS.
NHL Predictions for Carolina Hurricanes
After all the veteran experience and goal-scoring that this team lost it seems quite shocking they are expected to improve from last season in terms of their ‘over/under’ for points being 6.5 points higher. That has more to do with the weakness of the division and the strength of a healthy Ward in net. But even with those two factors this Carolina team will need a lot of things to go right just to approach 80 points again. The ‘under’ 86.5 points looks to be a safe bet.
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