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NHL Carolina Hurricanes

5 Players Essential To Carolina Hurricanes’ Future Plans

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5 Players Essential To the Hurricanes' Future Plans

5 Players Essential To Carolina Hurricanes' Future Plans
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The Carolina Hurricanes have some tough choices to make this offseason. Some folks need to go, some folks need to stay. Who stays and who goes is going to be enormously important for the future. Here are five players whose presence or departure will dictate how things move forward in Carolina.

5. Elias Lindholm

5. Elias Lindholm
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5. Elias Lindholm

5. Elias Lindholm
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Nobody will argue -- this kid's nationwide.

Lindholm has the goods, however the decision made on whether to keep him or use him to draw more established talent will be a litmus test to the Hurricanes' attitude and plans moving ahead.

4. Nathan Gerbe

4. Nathan Gerbe
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4. Nathan Gerbe

4. Nathan Gerbe
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Gerbe's a bit of an enigma. He hasn't been as touch-and-go as some of his teammates, but he did slump a few times. However, his style is a direction the team may want to think about heading in. Should the Hurricanes start building around him, it will show a clear sign of what kind of hockey Carolina wants to play from now on.

3. Justin Faulk

3. Justin Faulk
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3. Justin Faulk

3. Justin Faulk
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Carolina made a pretty long-term investment in Faulk, to the tune of a ridiculous six-year, million extension. It's safe to say he's going to be in town for a bit.

However, Faulk's level of play is going to be essential to setting the defensive tone, since it's obvious he will be anchoring the back end.

2. Alexander Semin

2. Alexander Semin
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2. Alexander Semin

2. Alexander Semin
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Who knows what's going on with Sasha these days. He runs hot-and-cold and it's hard to tell what version is going to suit up each night.

However, Semin is a player that a top line could easily be built around. Not with Eric Staal, but with other, more compatible players. Should he decide to play like his contract says he can, Semin will be a major offensive threat moving forward.

1. Cam Ward

1. Cam Ward
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1. Cam Ward

1. Cam Ward
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Whether or not Carolina lets it ride on Ward, or folds the hand will be the ultimate canary-in-the-mine for the future.

Shipping Ward out would show a serious commitment to rebuilding, however keeping him around will be a clear sign of a commitment to rebuild from within.