Five years ago, the Carolina Hurricanes were eliminated from the Eastern Conference Finals by the Pittsburgh Penguins, who went on to win the Stanley Cup. A sixth seed that shocked many during their impressive playoff run, the future was looking up for hockey in Raleigh.
Since then, though, there hasn’t been much to write home about. The Hurricanes haven’t made the playoffs since. The closest they’ve been is missing the 2011 postseason by just two points, but that’s about it as far as highlights go. Despite having some notable talent, including Eric Staal, Alexander Semin and Jeff Skinner, this year has been a rough one, as they’ll be once again watching the playoffs from home.
According to rumors spreading around the league, this fifth straight season of disappointment could be the final straw. Word from TSN’s Darren Dreger is Carolina fans should anticipate some big changes this offseason, and apparently no name is safe. Dreger claimed that a trade of Cam Ward is highly likely, but Skinner and Staal’s names could be in play as well.
Apparently everything hinges on whether or not team president and GM Jim Rutherford decides to resume his position. There’s a chance he brings in a new GM, at which point various moves are likely to be made.
Ward would’ve garnered much more interest a few years ago. He’s struggled to stay healthy, and despite winning the Conn Smythe Trophy way back in 2006, his stats are looking pretty rough this season.
But Skinner and Staal? You better believe teams will line up the second they hear anything regarding those names being available. Both players would net some solid returns, especially Skinner who, at 21 years of age, hasn’t even reached his prime yet.
Would Carolina really consider getting rid of the franchise’s two best players? Sure, the consistent struggles to make the playoffs point to the team needing to focus on a rebuild, but you’d like to think they’d try to hang on to Skinner and Staal in hopes of having at least a couple cornerstones. It would at least be worth a shot to try and rebuild, but do so while successfully maintaining a franchise player. Of course, who knows what other clubs would be willing to offer for Skinner or Staal’s services. A deal loaded with picks and prospects could be enticing if the goal is planning for the future.
Again, everything appears to be contingent on whether or not a new GM comes into town. But, for all intents and purposes, it certainly sounds like patience is no longer present in Carolina. Whether or not this results in wholesale changes to the roster remains to be seen. Hurricanes fans have been put on notice, though, as this is shaping up to be a very interesting offseason.