Entering the 2014-15 season, the Carolina Hurricanes weren’t expected to contend and were even in the running for Connor McDavid. While they finished with a top-5 pick, the Hurricanes were much better than their record indicated. There is evidence to suggest that this team will rebound in a huge way come 2015-16.
Quick research reveals that despite finishing in the bottom five of the entire NHL last year, the Hurricanes were a top-10 team for possession. So they played like a playoff team would. If this team played so well then what was their downfall? The answer is the goaltending as both Cam Ward and Anton Khudobin posted pedestrian numbers which dragged this team down.
As a result, the goaltending was the focus going into this offseason. Ward has an unmovable contract but the Hurricanes were able to replace Khudobin with Eddie Lack, a goalie with starter potential. In the process they gained another top-four option in James Wisniewski to strengthen their defense.
Because of their struggles, the Hurricanes were fortunate to have the draft’s best defenseman Noah Hanifin fall into their laps. Adding these two defenseman creates a solid core with Justin Faulk for years to come. They are building a team from the net out which isn’t a bad strategy to make the playoffs next year.
However, the loss of possession demon Alex Semin will hurt. Considering that they had plenty of cap space to re-sign him, choosing not to bring him back is a questionable decision. Regardless, the Hurricanes can rely on the Staal brothers, Jeff Skinner and Elias Lindholm to provide offense.
As much as the Calgary Flames were lucky last year, the Hurricanes were as unlucky. Since the Hurricanes improved their goaltending, I expect this team to make the playoffs next year.