The Carolina Hurricanes haven’t done much this summer, but they weren’t necessarily in a position where they had to. Despite some needed improvements in certain areas, particularly on the blue line, the undoing of the Canes in 2013 was mainly caused by injury.
The Hurricanes were a team absolutely decimated by injury throughout the season. That included injuries to multiple key players, as only five players overall on the roster were able to appear in more than 45 games. Two of those key players recovering from injury are Eric Staal and Cam Ward.
Staal’s injury actually took place after the summer had already started, at the IIHF World Championships over in Europe. He sustained a knee-on-knee hit from Alex Edler, who ended up being suspended for the remainder of the tournament for the hit. The hit resulted in a third degree MCL sprain for the Canes’ captain.
During the regular season, Staal was back to his usual self, though. He posted a very strong 53 points in 48 games and was a plus-5, while winning 52 percent of his draws. He was back to an elite level, and should easily return to one once the new regular season rolls around.
Ward’s health is a bit bigger of an issue for the Hurricanes. When Ward went down, the season was essentially over for Carolina, if it wasn’t already at that point. That injury limited him to only 17 games, and while there was initial hope that he’d return towards the end of the season, it didn’t matter.
He’s the key here. If he can prove healthy and rebound, then the Hurricanes are in a much better position than they might be otherwise. But any way you slice it, the fact that he and Staal are both ahead of schedule in their recoveries bodes well for the Hurricanes moving forward.