Jim Rutherford made a lot of noise this off-season with the additions of Alexander Semin and Jordan Staal. Staal was acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins by trading Brandon Sutter, Brian Dumoulin, and their first round pick. The Canes signed Semin in free agency for one year at $7 million. We all know both of these players will have huge impacts on the new season. One of the biggest impacts they will have on the Carolina Hurricanes may be on the special teams.
The Hurricanes were 20th in the league last year at a 16% success rate on the power play. Semin and Staal will surely help improve those numbers. Semin only had 11 points last year on the power play, but it is undeniable that he has one of the best shots in hockey. There is no reason with his shot and offensive instincts that he shouldn’t be able to be at the top of the league in power play goals.
Staal will be a perfect playmaker for the second line power play. He only put up seven points last year on the man advantage but that was on a stacked Penguins team where he didn’t get much playing time. With a lot more power play time, he should be very effective on the man advantage this year.
There is no doubt that Staal will be an asset on the Hurricanes penalty kill. The Canes were 22nd short-handed last year at 80.6%. Staal is commonly known as one of the best penalty killers in the league. He was a Selke Trophy finalist last year for best two-way forward in the league. He led Pittsburgh to be ranked third in the league on the penalty kill last year. He was also tied for fourth in short-handed points with who else but his brother Eric Staal. They will create a dynamic duo on the penalty kill this year.
Head coach Kirk Muller has already expressed how important he believes the special teams will be this year. In training camp, Muller has already used Semin and Staal to practice the power play. It is also worth noting that the Hurricanes have been looking for a good right-handed player on the power play which they have found with Semin. This spot has been missing on the team since they lost Ray Whitney to free agency in 2010. I expect the Hurricanes power play to be especially dangerous this year and to be at least ranked in the top ten. With the help of Staal, their short-handed numbers should also improve.