The Carolina Hurricanes quickly earned themselves the nickname ‘Connorlina’ when they went winless for the first month of the season — and although they’ve been improving with the return of Eric and Jordan Staal, the team still has a ways to go.
Last off-season saw the Hurricanes look weirdly stagnant; general manager Ron Francis insisted that he had the makings of a winning team already in his lineup, but that’s fallen a bit short. This time around, he’s not making the same claims:
Asked GM Ron Francis how active Canes would be through March 2 deadline. Francis: "We hope to be fairly active."
— Chip Alexander (@ice_chip) February 13, 2015
The Score’s Ian McLaren thinks that a number of decent players could be headed out:
Ward is the most obvious name on the list; with a number of teams looking to solidify their situations in net leading up to the deadline, the Canes could be a top target if the franchise decides it’s time to look to the future rather than focus on the present.
The Carolina Hurricanes are in twenty-eighth in the league; while they’re unlikely to remain that low in the face of a couple roster changes, the Eastern Conference franchise aren’t looking poised to climb any higher than a top five pick. They’ve toppled a couple good teams in recent weeks — most notably the Anaheim Ducks in a ferocious battle with the California powerhouse — but they also came dangerously close to losing to an injury-ridden Arizona Coyotes roster. With Mikkel Boedker and Martin Hanzal out, a regressing Mike Smith, and a number of AHL players holding long-term spots in Arizona’s lineup, a team that truly improved with the addition of the Staal brothers would have made easy work of the Coyotes.
What could they be looking for in return? Likely, they’ll want a healthy mix of mid-round picks and prospects; with few players worthy of first or second round picks on the trading block, the Hurricanes would be hard-pressed to bring in much of a haul if they aren’t willing to mix things up a bit.
Teams they could target, of course, are the ‘bubble’ teams — which all seem to be in the Western Conference this time around. The San Jose Sharks, Calgary Flames, Los Angeles Kings, Winnipeg Jets, and Minnesota Wild are all in a fierce competition to see the post-season — and with newly acquired Jhonas Enroth backing up Kari Lehtonen in Dallas, the Stars could easily look lethal with the addition of a back-end defenseman.
With a handful of teams looking to blow it all up, though, the Hurricanes could surprise us all — and instead of selling at the deadline, Carolina could look to be one of the teams that stockpile for the future leading up to the deadline. They’ve got a roster that’s thisclose to being good — if they choose to make some wise investments instead of eyeing prospects, the Hurricanes could pose a true threat next season.