Philip Botti The Hockey Writers
3 Objectives for the ‘Canes after the Trade Deadline
The ‘Canes traded away four players and signed fourth line center Jay McClement to a contract extension days before the last minutes of this seasons trade deadline. The moves found homes for players with expiring contracts and Carolina received picks, prospects, and a veteran defenseman in return. The team is different, but not at its core. There is still a group of veteran players, and young prospective NHLers that management can build around to put a winning team on the ice for fans in Raleigh. Here are three goals for the ‘Canes to focus on after the trade deadline and for the rest of the season.
1. Let the core players build chemistry
Jordan Staal and Eric Staal are the core of the franchise and the team will build around them. The ‘Canes have a lot of contract years and money invested into these two players. A drop in their point production this season does not change that they are the future core of the ‘Canes. In the last ten games, the Staal brother’s line has led the team by combining for 6-points at even strength. The team is 5-5 in their last 10-games. Now is time to surround the Staal brothers with talent that will help them succeed. The ‘Canes need to spend the rest of the season finding a third partner that fits well on that top line.
Jeff Skinner has started to ramp up his game, and shows life in the goal scoring department. Skinner has 16-goals on the season and has scored 6-goals in February. The ‘Canes have decent money invested in him, and would be wise to work on finding the right combinations of players that brings out his sky-high potential. Even though Skinner is still relatively young, he has a lot more experience than the other young players on the team. They will need to check their talent and decide if there is a player that is a good fit to build chemistry with Jeff Skinner.
All-Star defenseman Justin Faulk has proven he is the team’s future at the blue-line. Now it is time to let him grow and improve the young stock of defenseman around the former Olympian. The ‘Canes received prospect Roland McKeown in the trade that sent Andrej Sekera to the Kings, and have a good crop of young defenseman that can grow as pillars next to Faulk. The ‘Canes need to find a suitable partner for Faulk, and need to spend the rest of the season assessing if they have that player on their roster.
2. Continue to bring along young talent
The Hurricanes have talented players on their roster that still have a chance to grow into great players in the NHL. Elias Lindholm is playing in his second NHL season. Last season he totaled 21-points in 58-games. This year he has been a constant in the ‘Canes lineup and has put up 27-points in 61-games. His point totals are close but he grows as a player with every shift. He is still very young, and has time to grow into a strong player for the ‘Canes as they add more talent around him and the veterans.
Other young forwards are showing that they can fit in and help make this team better. Andrej Nestrasil could turn into a great talent for the ‘Canes. He plays hard, and is seemingly fitting well into Bill Peters system. He has 5-points in a three game stretch which includes points against strong playoff teams.
Ryan Murphy was proving that he could play major minutes for the ‘Canes before his injury this year. The AHL All-Star fits into a blue-line that lost most of its veteran grit at the trade deadline. Ryan Murphy was recently activated off the IR, so it will interesting to see how management uses him the rest of the season. Waiting to make an impact on defense is first round pick Haydn Fleury. Fleury will come to training camp next year and management will have to evaluate his growth as a player. Fleury is still very raw and most likely not ready for the NHL but the talent pool is strong with the ‘Canes prospects. With possibly two first-round picks in a very deep draft (the pick the ‘Canes received from LA is protected if the Kings don’t make the playoffs) the team will need to add to that talent pool. More talented prospects flowing through the ‘Canes will give this team a powerful identity and help build it to the place fans deserve.
#Canes have activated defenseman Ryan Murphy from IR. Details: http://t.co/G8cI148U33
— Michael Smith (@MSmithCanes) March 6, 2015
3. Keep playing hard for the fans in Raleigh
No matter what happens the rest of the season, fans know the ‘Canes aren’t going to make the playoffs. The team has not quit on the ice and continues to put on competitive games for fans. They need to continue that throughout the rest of the season to bring excitement to the fan base. The ‘Canes will look like a different team next season through free agency and the draft. The ‘Canes record maybe different if they had a healthy roster this season, and next season will prove what kind of talent that they have.
Jonathan Gardner of the Hockey Writers recently wrote about how Bill Peters has been consistently changing up the teams lineup and how he is running out of time this season to find a lineup he likes. With the lineup hopefully having more talent injected into it next season, fans will have consistent lines to look forward to. Carolina management is in a perfect position to make this team better. They have a high draft pick which most likely will land them at least a top-3 pick in this years draft. They have some money to go out and sign a capable number two defenseman, and have prospects that are ready to explode into the NHL. Fans in Raleigh deserve to have a playoff team to root for, and the rest of the season needs to help show ‘Canes fans that there is hope for the future of the team.
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