NHL.com is providing in-depth analysis for each of its 31 teams from Nov. 16-Dec. 16. Today, three important questions facing the Carolina Hurricanes.
1. Will the Hurricanes try again to upgrade their goaltending?
Petr Mrazek and James Reimer worked well as a duo last season. Mrazek was 21-16-2 with a 2.69 goals-against average, .905 save percentage and three shutouts in 40 games (38 starts), and Reimer was 14-6-2 with a 2.66 GAA, .914 save percentage and three shutouts in 25 games (24 starts). However, each can become an unrestricted free agent after this season, and questions remain about whether the Hurricanes need better goaltending to win the Stanley Cup.
This offseason, Carolina was open about exploring other options before deciding to stick with Mrazek and Reimer.
“It’s my job as the general manager to always look at what’s out there whether it’s a goalie, whether it’s a defenseman or a forward, to see if there’s an upgrade for our hockey club,” Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell said. “We think our goaltenders were a good tandem last year and down the stretch they played really well for us. … So at the end of the day, we’re very comfortable with both guys and looking forward to having that tandem go through the season.”
2. What’s the next level for Andrei Svechnikov?
Svechnikov scored 61 points (24 goals, 37 assists) in 68 games last season, up from 37 points (20 goals, 17 assists) in 82 games as a rookie in 2018-19, and the No. 2 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft appears to be just beginning to tap his offensive potential. The Hurricanes expect the 20-year-old to take another step toward becoming one of the NHL’s elite forwards this season.
“He will become a 50-goal scorer in this league at some point, whether it’s this year or next year,” Waddell said. “He took a week off or so (after last season), but I’m at the training facility every day and he’s here five days a week. He wants to be the best player he possibly can. He wants to give himself the best chance, and that’s what you like about a young guy.”
3. Will Dougie Hamilton sign a contract extension?
The Hurricanes would like to sign Hamilton to an extension before the season begins to erase any questions about the future of the defenseman, who is entering the final season of a six-year contract he signed with the Calgary Flames on June 30, 2015.
“That one, you would have doubts if you play out the season,” Waddell said. “So it makes sense to try to get something done before the start of the season.”
Hamilton has been a good fit since being acquired in a trade with the Flames on June 23, 2018. He scored 39 points (18 goals, 21 assists) in 82 games in 2018-19 and last season scored 40 points (14 goals, 26 assists) in 47 games before fracturing his left fibula against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Jan. 16.
Agreeing to an extension might be complicated with the NHL salary cap possibly remaining at $81.5 million again in 2021-22 because of the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Waddell didn’t rule out signing Hamilton to a long-term contract but noted that short-term deals were more prevalent this offseason.