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Rock me like a hurricane year in review


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PRESEASON OUTLOOK Great young core, many if not most felt the Hurricanes would contend in the Metro even after the goalie swap and losing Dougie Hamilton. Full disclosure I expected them to slip back into the pack this year. I was wrong.


FINAL RECORD 54-20-8 120 points first place in the Metro. Lost to the Rangers in 7 games in second round.


HIGH POINT OF THE YEAR Lots of them beginning with the beginning, they opened with a 9 game streak outscoring their opponents 37-15 Seven other times throughout the year they won four in a row or more through the season including the tail end as they wrapped up the Division title convincingly with a six game streak at the end of the year. I guess the other high point was winning the first two in the second round against the Rangers, you have, i believe, an 86 percent chance of winning your series when up 2-0 so the conference finals  looked nearly a lock.


LOW POINT OF THE YEAR They only had one four game losing streak, in March they lost four to playoff teams but it was not a big deal, surrounded by a couple of winning streaks. Truth is the low point was losing six in a row on the road in the playoffs, failing mierably all postseason long on the power play then losing game 7 to the Rags 6-2 for their first home ice loss in the postseason.

 Really the low point might be losing Freddy Andersen on tax day in a loss to the Avalanche, I like Raanta, quite a lot as one of the games best backups but I believe if Andersen were playing the Canes would be still as well.


WHAT WENT RIGHT Andersen/Raanta proved to be not just the equal of Reimer/Mrazek/Nedeljkovic but better by a lot, both had long stretches of brilliance through the year. Sebastian Aho led the team in everything, goals, assists, points, faceoffs, just a brilliant year for a brilliant young player. Svechnikov had 30 goals, Terravainen was damn solid, Trocheck had a solid year as one of the leagues best and undervalued 2C's in the game. Niederreitter punched in 24 goals Jarvis as a kid got better and better as the year went on. Tony DeAngelo came back from the dead to more than replace Hamiltons production all by himself. Sjkei had a fine year on the back end, Slavin should be in the conversation as one of the leagues best defensivie d-men and he added 42 points. Pesce and Cole were an outstanding bottom pair with Pesce sometimes bumping up to play with DeAngelo to allow him to roam. Fast had a fine year as far as secondary scoring. Domi was a surprisingly strong add at the deadline for next to nothing. They were stingy giving up the least amount of shots per game while ranking third in faceoff percentage. They owned the leagues best penalty kill as well.


WHAT WENT WRONG the signing of KotKaniemi probably killed the Canes year in hindsight. First, he wasnt very good, second the picks they gave up will haunt for years, third the money they frontloaded for this year could have and should have been spent better at the deadline. Lets face it, if they had Copp instead of Kotkaniemi they woulda won. This move was terrible at the time and worse as the year went on. Not to say he might not develop but it IMHO cost them dearly this year and going forward. Andersen could not have gone down at a worse time. The power play could not have had the juice shut off at a worse time. Staal showed signs of decline and aging. Ethan bear did very little. Stepan as a 4c was invisible. 


FREE AGENTS AND DRAFT PICKS They dont have a first this year, they traded their third but have the Hawks third so they actually moved up 20 spots in the third. Free agents of note, quite a lot of the depth pieces led by the irreplaceable Trocheck, heart and soul guy Niederreitter, Domi, Stepan, Cole and Brendan Smith. Necas is an RFA coming out of his rookie deal and will want paid, next year both goalies and Staal are gone so the window is now, they must make a decision on who to part with among players all of whom they would like back.


TOP PROSPECTS Jack Drury will replace one of the free agent forwards, he can score and needs to work on his 200 foot game but these are the guys who will teach him. Dominik Bokk will ride the NHL/AHL shuttle as a bottom forward who has promise. Ryan Suzuki seems like his name has been out there forever but he is only 21 and wants his shot with the forwards too. I am not a fan of Joey Keane but the Canes are and he might replace Brendan Smith as the 7D. Ptotr Kochetkov and Jack Lafontaine are okay prospects in net, nothing more but with two injury prone vets in front of them the two of them may battle for the 3G spot. I am not sure if Ville Koivunen is coming stateside this year but if so the kid is pure offense and reminds some of a young Aho. At worse he is probably the equal of Necas down the road. So yes, lots of free agents but kids ready to plug and play if needed.


STRANGE STAT OF THE YEAR Special teams were the key all year, they were good, just good, 5 on 5 but their power play was top ten at 20.7 percent their penalty kill was best in the league at a ridiculously good 89.7 percent. Until the playoffs when the pwer play percentage was cut nearly  in half to 11.0 and the penalty kill fell to 74 percent It is fair to say that special teams carried them all year and failed them in the postseason when they needed it the most. 


  They had a few odd splits too, Terravainen had 17 goals at home but was invisible with 5 on the road. linemates Jarvis and Fast had only 10 goals at home between them but 21 on the road. Aho was much better in the dot at home than away. 


OFFSEASON OUTLOOK The free agents need addressed and they must decide which kids are ready to step up. Honestly they will likely retain Nino and lose Vinnie which is a big loss and will be hard to replace. Cole needs resinged as all the ready now kids are forwards. Domi was well received and a good fit on a team in need of grit in the bottom six, he would do well to consider taking a bit less to stay with a team that suits his game. I think they are as likely as anyone to contend next year as if you look at it, Necas still should grow, Svechnikov while very good was down a bit, KotKaniemi will be better, so if those players up their game to match expectations the team could actually be better which is scary.


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