By Tyler Leli @jetleli on April 3, 2014
The 2013-14 NHL season has been marked by mediocrity for the Carolina Hurricanes, as they are 33-32-11 and sit six points out of the Eastern Conference's final playoff spot. This deficit is virtually insurmountable, giving Jim Rutherford the task of rebuilding this offseason. These are the five free agents the Hurricanes should target with their .27 million in cap room to become a playoff team.
The Hurricanes have really suffered from not having a good defensive pair behind Andrej Sekera and Justin Faulk, and they rank 17th in the NHL in goals per game against because of it. Bringing in Andrej Meszaros would instantly stabilize their second defensive unit, as the 28-year-old has good puck movement, is willing to use the body and he has playoff experience. At an average annual salary of million, Meszaros would be a bargain.
The Hurricanes rank 21st in goals per game and 27th in power play percentage, which stems from a lack of impact scorers. Enter in Marian Gaborik, who is one of the fastest players in the NHL, has great hands, can shoot the puck and tends to get on unstoppable goal scoring stretches. Carolina may fear another streaky player, but having Gaborik scoring 40 goals a year and starring on the power play may be too much to pass up.
Carolina has suffered immensely from a lack of character players for years, and veteran forward Steve Ott would inject the needed kick in the behind the locker room needs. Ott can play all three forward positions, uses the body in the corner with pride and isn't afraid to get in the head of opposing players. The 31-year-old could likely be had for million per year and would be great as a checking forward on Carolina's third line.
The Hurricanes' need for a goal scorer has previously been noted, and there are none more consistent than Matt Moulson. The 30-year-old loves to sit in front of the net and always seems to be in the right positions to finish scoring chances. Moulson is a three-time 30 goal scorer, and although he may not impress through pure skill, he would surely reach this total playing alongside the likes of Eric Staal, Jeff Skinner and Alexander Semin.
Brooks Orpik may be a bit of a hated man in Carolina for previous hits that may have crossed the line, but the defender is a fit with the Hurricanes. Orpik relishes throwing around hits both in the corners and open ice. He is one of the best shot blockers in the NHL and can be a top four defender for any team. The 33-year-old would bring toughness to the locker room and a shutdown presence that is lacking in Carolina.
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