30 Teams In 30 Days: Carolina Hurricanes

Jamie Bell, Staff

9/10/2010 11:06:41 AM

Join TSN in a 30 teams in 30 days tour of the NHL in preparation for the upcoming season. Teams will be unveiled in reverse order of the pre-season Power Rankings, and the Carolina Hurricanes are up next. Get the lowdown on their off-season and the issues they face this season. Use the Your Call feature to give us your take on the Hurricanes!

Carolina Hurricanes
35-37-10 (11th in East, missed the playoffs)
General Manager: Jim Rutherford (13th Season)
Head Coach: Paul Maurice (3rd Season)

What they did in the off-season:

One Staal was apparently not enough for the Canes as they acquired the youngest of the clan - Jared from the Coyotes. The team also drafted Jeff Skinner seventh overall and completed a pair of draft day deals to bring in former first-round picks Bobby Sanguinetti and Riley Nash from the Rangers and Oilers, respectively. Anton Babchuk returned from a one-year sojourn in the KHL while Joe Corvo, who the Canes dealt at the trade deadline, returned as a free agent. 

Perhaps the most significant moves of the off-season were the retirement of long-time captain Rod Brind'Amour and the departure of veteran winger Ray Whitney - signifying that the youth movement is in full swing in Carolina.

Biggest issue facing the team:

Carolina submarined their season with a disastrous first two months that saw them go 5-17-5.  While significant, long term injuries to the likes of Eric Staal and Cam Ward played their role, it seemed unfathomable that this was the same team that reached the Eastern Conference Final the year before.

The departure of several veterans means that this could be a very young and potentially (mentally) fragile team that might not know how to pull themselves out of an early season slump.

The Hurricanes also have to hope that Ward returns to his former Conn Smythe Trophy-winning form, as he never really seemed to establish a comfort level in net after battling leg and upper-body injuries that cost him 31 games. A healthy and focused Ward would go a long way in returning the Hurricanes to the post-season.

Player to watch:

As difficult as it is to feel sorry for a multi-millionaire professional athlete, it is easy to feel some sympathy for poor Erik Cole.  After rising to prominence as the 'C' in the Canes' BBC Line during their 2002 Stanley Cup run that came up just short, every possible calamity seems to have be-fallen the power forward. 

During the subsequent years, Cole has broken his leg, hyper extended his elbow, pulled his hamstring, injured his arm, foot and hip multiple times, broke vertebrae in his back suffered an additional cervical injury and missed 31 games this past season with what was believed to be a concussion. The fact that he has yet to contract the black plague is a minor miracle. Cole is in the final year of his contract that will see him earn $3 million this season.  Offensive numbers are almost secondary at this point, we would just like to see him stay healthy as he can be a very valuable offensive weapon thanks to his hulking frame and willingness to put his body in harm's way.  If he is able to remain out of the infirmary and find himself on a line with Eric Staal then a career year is not outside the realm of possibility.  The first step is staying healthy, something Cole has never been able to do.

For additional analysis, be sure to read Scott Cullen's fantasy take.