Team Overview: CAROLINA HURRICANES

Carolina Hurricanes

CAROLINA HURRICANES: By the Numbers

2014-2015
Overall Record: 30-41-11-71
Standings: Metropolitan Division: 8, Eastern Conference: 14, League: 26
Playoff Result: Did not make playoffs

2015-2016
Overall Record: 5-7
Home Record: 1-3
Away Record: 4-4
Shootout Record: NA (no shootouts)
Standings: Metropolitan Division: 7, Eastern Conference: 13, League: 23
Goals For: 26 (NHL rank: 23)
Goals Against: 34 (NHL rank: 6)
Power Play Percentage: 11.6 percent (NHL rank: 25)
Penalty Kill Percentage: 79.3 percent (NHL rank: 17)
Leading Scorer: Kris Versteeg (2-8-10)
 

2015-2016 Overview:

The Carolina Hurricanes have had a decent start to the season, playing better hockey than most would have expected. General manager Ron Francis made some moves this summer to right the ship in Carolina, and one trade in particular has certainly paid dividends one month into the season: Kris Versteeg, acquired from the Blackhawks, has 10 points in 12 games and has gelled nicely with Eric Staal on the Canes’ top line. The biggest move of the summer was the buyout of Alexander Semin’s contract, but it was the only way to go for the Hurricanes, who had no chance of moving his enormous $7 million cap hit. The Hurricanes will likely make it seven seasons in a row that the team does not reach the playoffs, but that doesn’t mean the organization is not making progress.
 
Last Game: November 1 vs. Tampa Bay (Final: 4-3)
Next Game: November 6 vs. Dallas, 7:00pm EST
 

Line Combinations

Here are the line combinations the Hurricanes used in the team’s most recent game:
 
Forwards
E. Staal-Rask-Versteeg
Gerbe-J. Staal-McGinn
Skinner-Nash-Lindholm
Malone-McClement-Terry

Defensemen
Hainsey-Faulk
Liles-Pesce
Hanifin-Murphy

Goalies
Ward
Lack
 

Offseason Overview

Trades:

  • 2015 3rd-round pick and 2016 7th-round pick to Vancouver for G Eddie Lack
  • G Anton Khodobin to Anaheim for D Jamies Wisniewkski
  • D Dennis Robertson, D Jake Massie and 2017 5th-round pick to Chicago for F Kris Versteeg, F Joakim Nordstrom and 2017 3rd-round pick

Re-Signed:

  • D Bret Pesce (3-year ELC with AAV* of $809,166)
  • G Alex Nedeljkovic (3-year ELC with AAV* of $842,500)
  • F Andrej Nestrasil (2-year deal with AAV* of $912,500)
  • F Lucas Wallmark (3-year ELC with AAV* of $683,333)
  • D Tyler Ganly (3-year ELC with AAV* of $640,000)
  • G Drew MacIntyre (1-year contract at $600,000)
  • F Riley Nash (1-year contract at $1.15 million)
  • D Rasmus Rissanen (1-year contract at $575,000)
  • F Zach Boychuk (1-year contract at $600,000)
  • F Justin Shugg (1-year contract at $600,000)
  • F Brody Sutter (1-year contract at $600,000)
  • D Jaccob Slavin (3-year ELC with AAV* of $925,000)
  • D Noah Hanifin (3-year ELC with AAV* of $925,000)
  • F Chris Terry (1-year contract at $875,000)
  • D Michal Jordan (1-year contract at $625,000)

Free Agents Signed:

  • C Derek Ryan (1-year contract at $600,000)
  • F T.J. Hensick (1-year contract at $600,000)

Draft Recap:

  • Round 2 (43) D Erik Cernak
  • Round 3 (74) C Alexander Dergachyov
  • Round 4 (99) LW Austin Wagner
  • Round 5 (134) RW Matt Schmalz
  • Round 7 (187) D Chaz Reddekopp
  • Round 7 (194) LW Matt Roy

Notable Extensions:

  • F Elias Lindholm (2-year deal with AAV* of $2.7 million)–starting next season
  • G Eddie Lack (2-year deal with AAV* of $2.75 million)–starting next season

Free Agents Lost:

  • F Ben Holmstrom–New York Islanders
  • F Alexander Semin–Montreal
  • D Beau Schmitz–UFA
  • F Greg Nemisz–UFA
  • F Jared Staal–UFA
  • D Brett Bellemore–UFA
  • F Patrick Dwyer–UFA
  • D Jack Hillen–UFA

Buyouts:
F Alexander Semin
Cap hit:
$2,333,333
(refer to GeneralFanager for more info)

Organizational Changes:

  • Announced that the contract of Jeff Daniels, the Charlotte Checkers (AHL) coach, will not be renewed.
  • Named Mark Morris the head coach of Charlotte.
  • Re-signed Geordie Kinnear as assistant coach of Charlotte.

 
*AAV=Average Annual Value (cap hit)
 

Significant Moves

Here is an overview of the most significant offseason moves made by the Carolina Hurricanes, and how the those moves will continue to affect the 2015-2016 season:

The Semin buyout:

semin

Gregg Forwerck-Getty Images

The Carolina Hurricanes bought out the remaining three years of Alexander Semin’s 5-year $49 million contract. The cap hit penalty resulting from this buyout is the largest in league history at $2.33 million a year. The Canes originally signed Semin to a one-year $7 million contract before the 2012-2013 season. Semin was excellent during that lockout-shortened season, scoring almost a point per game. That led to the eventual monstrous contract, which the Hurricanes eventually bought out this summer. There aren’t too many players with the type of skill Semin has, and it’s rare for one such player to be available. However, the knock on Semin has always been inconsistency and lack of effort, which led to the Washington Capitals eventually giving up on him and letting him sign elsewhere. Former Carolina general manager Jim Rutherford made the signing after the lockout-shortened season when Semin had produced on an admirable and consistent level. Unfortunately for Rutherford and for the Hurricanes organization, Semin did not pan out. He was not the same player the following season. Though he finished the year with 40+ points, he was no longer scoring on a point-per-game basis, the effort wasn’t there consistently and he only played in 65 games. Last season, on the other hand, was a complete nightmare; Semin had a disastrous season, scoring 19 points in 57 games. Only six of those 19 points were goals. Beyond his inability to score he reverted back to his former inconsistent lackluster play that eventually led to Washington discarding him. Now that Rutherford is in Pittsburgh and Ron Francis is running the show in Carolina, there was nowhere for Semin to hide.

When it comes down to it, though, the Hurricanes are much better off without Semin. He sets a bad example for younger players, of which there are many in the Hurricanes organization, and is anything but a consistent, hard-working teammate. Though this buyout is a huge blow to Carolina, it would be worse if the Hurricanes were a salary-cap team. But it is still a stain on the organization and a tough pill to swallow to have the highest buyout cap hit in NHL history.
 

Acquiring Eddie Lack:

Lack

Jeff Vinnick-NHLI via Getty Images

The Hurricanes have had goaltending issues over the past few seasons. Whether the issues were caused by injuries or inconsistent play, the Carolina crease has been crowded with a carousel of goalies. Cam Ward’s contract is up after this season, and though there were many rumors that he may be on the block, he has gotten off to an excellent start this season. However, the Hurricanes went out and secured themselves a solid and promising goaltender for the future, regardless of what happens with Ward.

Eddie Lack was an absolute fan favorite in Vancouver, where he most recently served as Ryan Miller’s backup. When Miller was injured last season, Lack stepped in and exceeded expectations as he helped Vancouver make the playoffs. For a stretch of several months at the end of the year, the Canucks’ season was in Lack’s hands, and he did not falter. Putting aside the fact that it makes no sense that the Canucks traded him, from Carolina’s perspective this trade is an absolute steal. The Hurricanes only had to part with a 3rd-round draft pick and a 7th-round draft pick in exchange for an excellent backup who has the potential to and most likely will take over as the starter next season or in the near future. The Canes also traded away last season’s backup Anton Khodobin to Anaheim in exchange for defenseman James Wisniewski. Unfortunately, Wisniewski lasted only four minutes into the season before tearing his ACL; he is expected to be out for six months. But Lack, 28, is still relatively young for a goalie and should be an excellent asset to the Hurricanes organization moving forward. The Hurricanes were able to sign Lack to a very reasonable two-year extension, which makes the deal that much more effective and significant.
 

Trading for Versteeg:

versteeg

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

The Hurricanes acquired Blackhawks’ forward Kris Versteeg in exchange for two defensive prospects and a 5th-round pick. Versteeg won two Stanley Cups with the Blackhawks (2010, 2015). Chicago needed to move him primarily to create more cap space for Marcus Kruger, who was re-signed the day after Versteeg was traded. This was a great move for the Hurricanes. For one thing, Versteeg is a top-six forward and is a solid addition to the Hurricanes’ roster. Further, the Canes also received forward Joakim Nordstrom as well as a future 3rd-round pick (2017). The Hurricanes have options with Versteeg, as he is in the final year of his contract. If things go well the team can re-sign him; if not, the Hurricanes are not faced with long-term consequences. In the meantime, Versteeg will help the Hurricanes be a more competitive team and can be a veteran leader on a team with many young players. He could also be a candidate for a trade-deadline deal, which would help Carolina expand its prospect pool and its collection of draft picks. Luckily for Carolina, Versteeg has gotten off to an excellent start this season, scoring 10 points (2 goals, 8 assists) in 12 games.
 
 

Final Thoughts

All things considered, the Carolina Hurricanes have played pretty well this season. The team may be in seventh place in the division, but most Metropolitan teams are within a few points of each other since it’s so early on in the year. It’s fair to say the Hurricanes have exceeded the expectations of many. But the biggest surprise out of Carolina has been the play of Cam Ward. He has struggled over the past few seasons, and it was unclear if he would even stay in Carolina. He may not have the wins to show for it, but he has kept the Hurricanes in most games this year. It’s unclear if Eric Staal will remain with the team after his contract expires at the end of this season, but it is clear that general manager Ron Francis will not be afraid to shake up the organization. The Hurricanes have only made the playoffs once since winning the Stanley Cup in 2006, and the team has failed to qualify for the playoffs every year for the past six seasons. Trading for James Wisniewski, Eddie Lack and Kris Versteeg was a solid start, and the crop of young talented players on the team continues to develop. It will be interesting to see what Francis and the Hurricanes do next.
 
 
Featured image credit: Gregg Forwerck-NHLI via Getty Images