For many seasons, the Carolina Hurricanes have been a perennial playoff contender thanks to solid goaltending and a wealth of offensive talent. This season, the wheels fell off as goaltender Cam Ward went down injured, and many defensemen struggled to stay healthy. One positive that situation brought around was the NHL debut of 2011 first round draft pick Ryan Murphy, who didn’t look out of place in his four games with the team. As the Hurricanes look ahead to next season, Murphy will be a big part of their plans and should have every chance to make the roster.
Murphy has been a solid offensive defenseman in his four seasons with the Kitchener Rangers, scoring at least 10 goals in the past three seasons. He got a chance to experience life in the AHL with the Charlotte Checkers this season, and in eight games (regular season plus postseason) he had four assists. If he struggles in camp, he could start next season in Charlotte but the Hurricanes may end up needing to speed his development along in Carolina instead.
Joe Corvo, Marc-Andre Bergeron and Bobby Sanguinetti are all free agents this summer, and it’s doubtful all three of them return. Joni Pitkanen and Tim Gleason will be back, as will Jay Harrison and Jamie McBain. The Hurricanes should also get a full season from youngster Justin Faulk, who had five goals and 15 points while missing 10 games with injuries.
The Hurricanes were 29th in the league in goals allowed this season, and will need to make some changes to improve in that category. Murphy will be an important piece for the team moving forward, and could be an early Calder Trophy frontrunner when the 2013-14 season kicks off.