After missing the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year, Jim Rutherford was determined to make the Carolina Hurricanes a more competitive team. The Hurricanes GM made the biggest trade of the off-season picking up Eric Staal’s brother Jordan Staal during the 2013 NHL draft. This would give the Canes one of the best two way players in the game along with some great chemistry.
Staal’s importance to the team was immediately known when the organization chose to make him an alternate captain. Rutherford also made sure he would be part of the Team’s future, signing Staal to a 10-year deal. The pressure was on for Staal to perform, and he hasn’t disappointed.
Staal has been a leader on the Hurricanes second line, providing balanced scoring by developing chemistry with young star Jeff Skinner. Staal has 18 points in 24 games and has been an essential defensive forward for the Canes. The acquisition of Staal has made the team’s second line almost as deadly as the first.
Rutherford was not done with just Staal. He also signed Russian sniper Alexander Semin through free agency. Semin has been the perfect fit to play with Eric Staal on the first line with 26 points in only 24 games. Staal has also been boosted by the play of Semin, leading the team with 30 points. Rutherford has talked for years about trying to find a winger to play with Staal and picking up Semin was an incredible choice. This acquisition let the Hurricanes have one of the best lines in hockey, as Jiri Tlusty has also developed chemistry with Semin putting up 21 points.
These two fantastic moves in the off-season have helped the team lead the South East Division and rank third in the Eastern Conference. Rutherford signing Dan Ellis also proved important when Cam Ward went down with an injury. The veteran GM has done everything he can to put the Canes in a spot to succeed, and it looks like they may have one of their best years in a long time.