The Carolina Hurricanes are a completely different team this year, but their goal remains the same: win the Stanley Cup.
Last season, the Canes finished at the top of their division, but then lost in the second round of the playoffs to the eventual champions, the Tampa Bay Lightning. They had what seemed like a very good group of players, without any weaknesses at any position. It seemed like if they kept their roster they would be title contenders for the fourth year in a row. But over the summer they got new goalies and changed the defense.
In the offseason, the team kept its main core of star players, resigning Andrei Svechnikov and Jordan Martinook, as well as Coach of the Year Rod Brind’Amour.
The team also made a lot of moves and trades, though. After becoming one of the best defenseman in the league last year, Dougie Hamilton signed a 7-year, $63 million contract with the New Jersey Devils. Carolina then traded defenseman Jake Bean to Columbus and brought in Ethan Bear from Edmonton and Ian Cole from the Wild to retool its defensive unit.
The Canes continued to cycle their goalies, bringing in their sixth and seventh different netminders in the past three years. Releasing rookie Alex Nedeljkovic for two more experienced goalies, hoping veterans will be able to lead the team to a cup. Releasing Nedeljkovic was a controversial move because some believe he will be a star in a few years. One of the new goaltenders, Aanti Raanta, is one of the best goalies in the league when healthy, but injuries have been a problem in his career. Frederick Anderson, who the team got from Toronto, also has a solid .915 save percentage in his career.
The team’s struggle in goal has been one of the main reasons they haven’t won the cup yet.
“I feel that we’re bringing in two guys who have proven in the past that they can do it.” Brind’Amour said in an interview with Canescountry.com on September 15.
The team also has promising prospects. Seth Jarvis, the first round pick from 2020, earned a spot on the team this season. Carolina’s AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves, which they share with the Predators, has other players that could be brought up at any time, such as Ryan Suzuki and Jack Drury.
This year the team is back in the Metropolitan Division, after playing in the Central Division last year because of COVID. The Hurricanes have never been a top three team in the Metropolitan, but made the playoffs in 2018 and 19 by the wildcard spot. But after winning the central last year, the team hopes to break into the top three this season en route to its first title since 2006.
“That’s the hardest step, to win. That’s why I think the hardest thing to do in sports is win a Stanley Cup,” said Brind’Amour