Hockey World Blog

2014-15 Carolina Hurricanes Season Preview

Eric Staal Carolina Hurricanes


The following is a guest post from Bob Wage, who currently covers the Carolina Hurricanes for You can follow him on Twitter at @CanesCountry

Did you watch the Carolina Hurricanes last season? Believe it or not, there are few changes to the group of players who finished 13th in the East last year.

Ownership feels that there was and is enough talent on the roster to have made the playoffs last season as well as this coming campaign, so former head coach Kirk Muller took the fall and was relieved of his duties along with his assistants. Former Detroit assistant, Bill Peters was hired and will try to infuse a new culture and enthusiasm to his group. Rod Brind’Amour was promoted to assistant coach and Steve Smith was also brought in from Edmonton to help behind the bench.

There were also sweeping changes in the front office. The only general manager the Canes had known since their move to Carolina, Jim Rutherford, stepped down, then moved on to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Long time assistant GM, Ron Francis, took over. The Canes also brought in Mike Vellucci from Plymouth to help with hockey operations and Don Waddell to assist on the business side.

But on the ice, much is the same as it has been.

Captain, Eric Staal, coming off one his worst seasons as a pro, will try to get his team back to the playoffs after a five year hiatus. Alexander Semin is also returning from an off year and the Hurricanes will be looking to get much more production from the Russian sniper. Jeff Skinner led the team with 33 goals, but will try to improve on his (-14) plus/minus stat.

Jordan Staal will need to be more consistent putting up points and the Canes must have youngsters Elias Lindholm, Jiri Tlusty, and Riley Nash continue to produce, improve, and develop on the fly.

The Hurricanes brought back Nathan Gerbe, who had 16 goals last season, and long-timer Patrick Dwyer will also be back in the group of forwards.

The team said goodbye to Radek Dvorak, Andrei Loktionov, and Drayson Bowman, while Manny Malhotra moved on to Montreal. They brought in Jay McClement and Brad Malone to fill a couple of bottom six spots but still have an open roster spot or two for forward prospects to jump in. Their top candidates include Zach Boychuk, Chris Terry, Patrick Brown, and Brock McGinn.

On the blueline, there are even fewer changes.

The team will be relying heavily on the top pairing of Justin Faulk and Andrej Sekera. Sekera is coming off a career best season and there are high hopes for Faulk, who just signed a long term contract. In the off season, Ron Hainsey was signed to a three-year deal, Tim Gleason was signed to a one-year contract after being traded to, then bought out by the Leafs last season, and Brett Bellemore was signed to a two-way deal. John-Michael Liles is back as is Jay Harrison, and youngster, Ryan Murphy will try to make the club after splitting some of the season in the AHL last year.

Last year’s duo in goal will get the nod again this season. Anton Khudobin earned the number one spot and was extended for two more years. Cam Ward was reportedly on the trading block and has had a lot of trouble staying healthy. The former Conn Smythe winner is a tough sell though because he is on the books for $12 million plus for the next two seasons. The goalie sported a .898 save percentage last season and will also be looking to improve upon near career worst numbers.

Some say, there is no where to go but up for the club’s top paid players, but that saying will be tested this coming season in Carolina.

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