After the NHL Draft, free agency and other offseason moves, NHL.com is examining where each team stands in preparation for the 2020-21 regular season, which is targeted to start Jan. 1. Today, the Carolina Hurricanes:
The Carolina Hurricanes have been focused on establishing continuity in their lineup during the offseason while also hoping to add a complementary piece or two.
After qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2000-01 and 2001-02, the Hurricanes want to continue to grow with the core they’ve been building. So although disappointed in losing to the Boston Bruins in five games in the Eastern Conference First Round last season after being swept by the Bruins in the 2019 Eastern Conference Final, they didn’t want to overreact.
“We made quite a few changes last year, and one thing you want to be careful of is always chasing something that might not be there,” general manager Don Waddell said.
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Carolina has limited its offseason additions so far to agreeing to a three-year contract with unrestricted free agent forward Jesper Fast on Oct. 10 and agreeing to a one-year, two-way contract with depth defenseman Joakim Ryan on Oct. 12. But the roster turnover continued with the retirement of forward Justin Williams on Oct. 8 and the departure of defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk, who signed a one-year contract with the Washington Capitals on Oct. 10.
That leaves the Hurricanes with seven players who played more than 10 games with them in 2017-18: forwards Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen, Jordan Staal and Brock McGinn, and defensemen Jaccob Slavin, Brett Pesce and Haydn Fleury. With those holdovers, the emergence of young forwards Andrei Svechnikov, Martin Necas and Warren Foegele, and trades for forward Vincent Trocheck and defensemen Dougie Hamilton and Brady Skjei, the Hurricanes believe they have a core in place that’s ready to take the next step (Foegele and Fleury are restricted free agents).
That doesn’t mean Carolina won’t make another move before the season begins, but Waddell made it clear he’ll continue to be selective.
“As a GM you’re always looking to improve your team if something makes sense, what you have to give up from a value standpoint,” Waddell said. “The other thing is we don’t have a lot of [NHL salary] cap space either, so we have to be mindful. If something fits in all those parameters, then we have to take a look at it.”
Here is what the Hurricanes look like today:
Jesper Fast, F: The 28-year-old scored 29 points (12 goals, 17 assists) in 69 games last season with the New York Rangers. He played one game for the Rangers during the Stanley Cup Qualifiers against the Hurricanes after sustaining a concussion in Game 1. The Hurricanes like Fast’s character and his ability to contribute in any spot in the lineup. He was voted winner of the Rangers’ Players’ Player Award, for being their best team player, by his teammates the past five seasons. … Joakim Ryan, D: The 27-year-old scored five points (one goal, four assists) in 35 games with the Los Angeles Kings last season and has played 141 NHL games during three seasons for the Kings and San Jose Sharks.
Justin Williams, F: Retired after winning the Stanley Cup three times in 19 NHL seasons, including in 2006 with Carolina.He pondered retirement at the start of last season before signing a one-year contract Jan. 7 and scoring 11 points (eight goals, three assists) in 20 regular-season games and one goal in seven postseason games. … Trevor van Riemsdyk, D: Scored eight points (one goal, seven assists) in 49 regular-season games and had one assist in two postseason games. … Joel Edmundson, D: Scored 20 points (seven goals, 13 assists) in 68 regular-season games and scored one goal in four postseason games. He was traded to the Montreal Canadiens for a fifth-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft on Sept. 12 and agreed to terms on a four-year contract with them Sept. 17. … Sami Vatanen, D: Had a lower-body injury and wasn’t healthy in time to play any regular-season games after being acquired in a trade from the New Jersey Devils on Feb. 24, but had three assists in seven postseason games. He is an unrestricted free agent.
On the cusp
Morgan Geekie, F: After scoring 42 points (22 goals, 20 assists) in 55 games with Charlotte of the American Hockey League, the 22-year-old made an immediate impact with four points (three goals, one assist) in his first two NHL games before last season was paused March 12. Geekie played in all eight of Carolina’s postseason games and had one assist. … Jake Bean, D: The 22-year-old led Charlotte with 48 points (10 goals, 38 assists) in 59 games but did not to play in the NHL last season after playing two games with the Hurricanes in 2018-19.
What they still need
Better goaltending. The Hurricanes have been open about seeking an upgrade in net but are staying with Petr Mrazek and James Reimer as their two goalies for now, with each entering the final season of his contract. Mrazek was 21-16-2 with a 2.69 goals-against average, a .905 save percentage and three shutouts in 40 games (38 starts) last season. Reimer was 14-6-2 with a 2.66 GAA, a .914 save percentage and three shutouts in 25 games (24 starts).
Aho was among the biggest postseason standouts with a Hurricanes-leading 12 points (three goals, nine assists) in eight games after scoring 66 points (38 goals, 28 assists) in 68 regular-season games. He has solidified himself as a top-15 fantasy forward and forms one of the best stacking options with Svechnikov, who scored seven points (four goals, three assists) in six postseason games after a top-25 finish in standard fantasy leagues. Each forward is worth targeting in the second or third round of a 12-team draft with even more appeal in keeper leagues. — Rob Reese
Andrei Svechnikov — Sebastian Aho — Teuvo Teravainen
Nino Niederreiter — Vincent Trocheck — Martin Necas
Brock McGinn — Jordan Staal — Jesper Fast
Warren Foegele — Morgan Geekie — Ryan Dzingel
Jacob Slavin — Dougie Hamilton
Jake Gardiner — Brett Pesce
Brady Skjei — Haydn Fleury