Wednesday, September 14, 2011

NHL 30 in 30: Carolina Hurricanes

If it wasn't for an egg that they laid against the Lightning in their final game of the season, the young Carolina Hurricanes may have made the postseason. They are a young team with good, driving veteran influences, and have a very good and promising future. The question is, does the promising future start this year?

Strengths: The Hurricanes have gotten younger this offseason, but they did add a notable veteran to the mix. He, is Tomas Kaberle, the Stanley Cup champion defenseman who began to impress the Boston faithful in the postseason. He will end up quarterbacking the power play, and possibly become the Hurricanes best defender. They also added Alexei Ponikarovksy from the LA Kings as a low line winger. However, the youth on this team is their biggest strength. Jeff Skinner is an amazing young centermen who has the potential to possibly be one of the league's best one day, and he's only 19. Captain Eric Staal is only 26, and he has the great leadership abilities to lead this mix of young and old to new heights. They have other good players around on the roster to, such as Chad LaRose, Anthony Stewart, Tuomo Ruutu, and others, that make up the good roster overall. In net, Cam Ward is one of the most under-appreciated goaltenders in the NHL, as last year he had a 2.56 GAA.

Weaknesses: Their defense corps is not a major strength of the team, despite the fact that they have good players in the group like Kaberle and Brian Allen. They did lose Erik Cole and Joe Corvo to free agency, and that is a loss of some of the key veteran scoring players on the team, however some of the youth should replace them. However, the youth is still youth, so the problems with a young team could pop up here.

Any Help Coming? C Zac Dalpe may be the best prospect in the the Hurricanes system. He needs to mature physically, but he will become a great, well-rounded scorer and a possible Top 6 forward at some point. D Ryan Murphy was the Canes first round pick this year, and projects to be a solid, possible top pair D-Man at some point. C Zach Boychuk is an offensively gifted prospect who could crack the big club this year.

Outlook: The Canes are one of the many teams that will be fighting for a playoff spot in the crowded East. They will have a tough time with some of the issues the team has, but they should be in the race until the final horn, and they may very well make it. They probably won't replicate the success of 2006 this year, though.

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