Carolina Hurricanes: Preseason Analysis

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Carolina Hurricanes: Preseason Analysis

The 2004–05 NHL lockout led to the establishment of a salary cap of $39 million.

Carolina flourished under the new CBA, turning in the best season in the franchise's 34-year history. They finished with a 52–22–8 record and 112 points.

In the playoffs the Hurricanes advanced all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals where they beat the Edmonton Oilers in the seventh game. Since then the Canes have gone south in the standings.

The following season, they finished with a 40-34-8 record, only good enough for eleventh place in the  east. Last season, they were just beaten out of a playoff spot and finished in ninth place in the East. So now they look forward to this season, after an offseason of change in Carolina.

 

New Faces

Joni Pitkanen was traded for the second time in as many years. This time he got a one way ticket to Carolina. The Oilers shipped Joni to the Canes for pesky forward Erik Cole. Pitkanen is a great young defenseman who stumbled last season. I see Joni picking up the pieces of his career and having a good season in his new home. Last season Pitkanen amounted 26 points in 63 games, not that great for a D-man highly touted for his offensive skills. The best season of his career was in 2005-2006 when he scored 46 points in 58 games for the Philadelphia Flyers, he also was a plus 22 rating.

Also new is Josef Melichar who the Canes signed to a one-year $1 million dollar contract. Melichar spent last season with Linköpings HC in Elitserien. He had an unimpressive season with only 8 points in 50 games. Not a good signing in my mind. This signing was almost like GM Jim Rutherford saying "Frantisek Kaberle, pack your bags". It has been swirling around in the hockey world that Kaberle is on his way out of Carolina.

A side note is former captain Jeff O'Neil has been invited to Canes training camp so we could see him in the Red and Black (again) this season.

Leaving Players

The major player out of Carolina is D-man Glen Wesley who annouced his retirement. Glen was they only remaining player from the Hartford Whaler days. Wesley, 39, is the only player to have played in each of the Hurricanes' 10 seasons since the team once known as the Hartford Whalers moved to North Carolina. He has played 13 season combined with the Whalers and Hurricanes

The Red Deer, Alberta native scored one goal and eight points in 78 games this season, his lowest  since the 2003-04 campaign, when he collected six assists. He was also a minus player for the first time since 2002-03 with a -2 rating. Wesley will have his number 2 retired later this season.


Also leaving is goaltender John Grahame who signed with the Avangard Omsk of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). Grahame played in 17 games last season compiling a 5-7-1 record.

Forwards

The Carolina Hurricanes are loaded with as much firepower up front as any other team in the league. At some point in their careers, the top nine forwards currently on the roster have each scored 20 or more goals in a season. Group of nine could be lethal, some of them might also be fragile though. Several of them missed games due to injuries last season.  

Last year's numbers.

Name        GP  Goals   Assists  Points

Staal         82    38       44        82
Ruutu        77    10       22        32
Whitney     66    25       36        61
Samsonov  61     14      22        36
Cullen        59     13      36        49
Brind'Amour 59     19      32        51
Walker       58     14      18        32
Williams      37      9      21        30
Eaves        37      5      10        15

Defense

The top six defense positions are up in the air as the Canes have eight defenseman on their roster.

Anton Babchuk

Joe Corvo

Tim Gleason

Frantisek Kaberle

Josef Melichar

Joni Pitkanen

Dennis Seidenberg

Niclas Wallin

Carolina should have a slightly above average back end next season.

Goaltenders

Cam Ward will once again be starting for the Canes. The young goaltender could mature this year into an elite goaltender in the NHL. Michael Leighton will be given the chance to back Ward up this season.

Break Out Candidate

Sergi Samsonov after rebounding from two bad season last season. Sergi could climb the scoring leaders board if he recovers to his old self. I would bet he scores 60 plus points this season.

Fantasy Pool Player

Eric Staal will again be the best pick on the Canes roster. Staal is Carolina's best offensive theart. I believe Staal will put up numbers in the 80 plus range.

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