Wednesday, October 22, 2014
In goal, the Hurricanes have quite the predicament, as Anton Khudobin is currently sitting above Cam Ward on the depth chart. The problem? Ward is making starter's money, and right now, Ward has a GAA of 3.87 and a save percentage of .846. Throw in his history of being injured, and you can see why he's been difficult to move. His current contract is up after next season, and even without the injuries, he has been nowhere near the player that he was in the mid to late 2000's. How to fix the goal problem? Find a team that constantly fights to get to the salary cap floor and is willing to gamble on a goalie who used to be good, and those teams are scarce at the moment.
Defensively, they're not in the worst shape. In fact, this is probably the most stable unit on the team. Players slated to be free agents after the season are Tim Gleason, Brett Bellemore, and Andrej Sekera, and it is entirely possible that only one of them could be resigned, and it is likely Sekera, who put up good numbers last season and is currently paired with Justin Faulk. With Ryan Murphy waiting in the wings and Haydn Fleury developing, the Hurricanes don't look too bad here, as Jay Harrison is decent, and Ron Hainsey is fine as a third pairing player.
Forwards is where things get dicey. Both Staals are out due to injuries, though Eric is slated to return soon, and Jeff Skinner just returned from a concussion. Of the forwards, only Skinner has produced lately, and that's when he's actually been healthy. Jiri Tlusty and Chris Terry lead the team in scoring, and that's not a good sign. Tlusty can score goals, which explains his standing, but no one outside of Carolina has heard of Terry. Alex Semin has yet to score, and given that his best numbers were when he was on a one-year deal in the lockout-shortened season, it's fair to wonder if Alexei Yashin changed identities. Victor Rask and Elias Lindholm are some of the young players getting ice time, which is good. However, neither have found their stride.
To fix the issues here, the first thing I would do is strip Eric Staal of the captaincy. Since he became captain midway through the 2009-10 season, when he replaced Rod Brind'Amour, the Hurricanes have missed the playoffs every year, and though he has broken the 30-goal mark in 2010-11, he also has not broken the 80-point mark since the season he became captain. A captain should be a reflection of the team, and since Staal became captain, it does not look good. The Hurricanes should reassess who their real leaders are, which is why going with four alternate captains for a while is a good idea here, as you're making the players earn the right to wear the C. As for trading options, Eric Staal could still fetch a decent offer, particularly since his current deal is up after next season. Semin is another player I would want to move, but he has four more years (including this season), and his inconsistency would scare some teams. Skinner would give the Hurricanes the best options in a trade, but he is also their best player at the moment, and injury issues aside, he still managed 30-plus goals last season. However, the Hurricanes would be wise to listen to deals for him, as they need to replenish their farm system.
As you can see, the Hurricanes are a mess, and it's not going to be an easy fix. Where they can start, however, is figuring out who their real locker room leaders are and go with four alternate captains until they know who's willing to step up.
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
The Otters will head to Buffalo for a tilt against the Niagara Icedogs on Wednesday in what is likely the city's first look at a potential draft pick in Connor McDavid, as well as Dylan Strome, both of whom are eligible for the 2015 NHL Draft. The city of Buffalo is likely going to be playoff-free this season, as the Sabres are stumbling out of the gate (predictably). The Otters will also hit the road for games at Sault Ste. Marie on Friday and Sudbury on Saturday.
Monday, October 20, 2014
The Winterhawks continue the East Division road trip Tuesday in Regina, followed by a game Wednesday against Swift Current before concluding the trip Friday at Prince Albert and Saturday against Saskatoon.
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Portland begins their road trip through Saskatchewan and Manitoba this week, as they will take on Moose Jaw this Friday and Brandon on Saturday.
Monday, October 13, 2014
The Otters travel to London to take on the Knights on Wednesday before coming home for games Friday against Sudbury and Saturday against London.