This year feels different. After years of building and rebuilding, it feels like this team can win it all.
The Carolina Hurricanes have been so close to the cup in the last few years, the fans feel like it’s basically guaranteed to happen soon. The players are even more certain that the cup is coming back to Raleigh for the first time since Rod Brind’Amour brought it here in 2006 as the captain. Now as the head coach, he wants to lift the cup again.
“Every year that goes by is another year you didn’t get it done, we got a hungry group this way,” said Brind’Amour in a press conference on September 28th.
The team has been good since Brind’Amour took over as head coach in 2018, really good, but there has always been something missing. Whether it’s the goaltending, inexperience, or the Boston Bruins, there has always been something in the way. This year is different though. Everything seems perfect.
Over the offseason the team made some big moves. They acquired defenseman Dylan Coghlan and forward Max Pacioretty from Las Vegas for essentially nothing in return. The defense also got Brent Burns from San Jose, who will replace Tony Deangelo and add extra strength on the blue line.
One of the most prominent aspects of the team this year is that both goalies are staying on the team for the season. The tandem of Freddy Andersen and Antti Raanta was the best duo in the league last year, only allowing 200 goals. Injuries late in the season caused both to miss much of the playoffs. Pyoter Kochetkov had to fill in, and they still made it out of the first round. Back to full health, they will be as strong as ever. Kochetkov will play again this season in the event of another injury. The team has struggled with goaltending recently, but those two have given the rest of the team a solid foundation and confidence.
The defense, led by Jacob Slavin, was one of the team’s biggest strengths last year. Ethan Bear is returning for his second season with the team and should improve from last season. The team will also have new players, like Burns and Coghlan, who will be looking to redeem themselves with a new team. The defense should be just as strong, if not even stronger, than last year.
The thing that set Carolina apart from other teams last season, is the depth of the team. While some teams are based around a couple superstars, like Edmonton or Colorado, the Hurricanes have countless players that can be the star each game. Players like Aho and Svechnikov are major assets, but the team doesn’t have to rely on them to win games. Each line is well-balanced and they all will be just as dangerous. This will be the same this year, especially with the amount of experience the team will have. Last year the Canes were one of the youngest in the league, but this season the team is older and more experienced.
The team has also had to wait for a few players to develop more. Younger players like Necas and Kotkaniemi need to step up their game this year and become leaders. They both got experience last year and they could be the difference between an early playoff exit and coming back to a parade.
The competition this year in the metro division will likely not be quite as tense as it was last year. The Rangers and Penguins will both be very good, but the rest of the division seems weak. This should mean the Canes will get into the playoffs fairly easily, with most of the toughest competition coming from the other divisions.
Looking back on all the great Canes teams of the past, it is looking like this will be the team with the best chances of success we’ve seen in a while.