Hurricanes and playoffs are not two words that are synonymous with each other in past two to three years. With a lot trades coming from left right and center, will the Carolina Hurricanes make it this year? Let take a look at the evidence.
Exhibit #1 Kristian Huselius
Huselius came from Colorado along with Shane Joseph but it cost the Canes three solid prospects in Stefan Meyer, James Sharrow and Konstantin Zakharov. All three prospects were having good seasons and could have given the Canes endorsement money. However on the other side of the coin, Huselius brings a NHL ready player that plays on the left wing which the Canes desparately needed. Huselius will be expected to score goals and plenty of them and should have no excuses with Joe Nieuwendyk feeding him the puck.
Exhibit #2 Curtis Joseph
Joseph and Niklas Hagman were exchanged for Boyd Devereaux, Jay Pandolfo, Ryan Bayda. Joseph could be the difference for the Canes this year. In previous seasons, the HFNHL has shown that if you have a good goaltender you will make the playoffs. This is assuming your defenseman is solid. Joseph is an all star and will need show it especially with his huge price tag on his head. Hagman is a speedster and very inconsistent. He will fill either a 2nd or 3rd line role depending on personnel but he will definitely create his own problems with his speed and skating. Devereaux and Bayda were not really seen in the Canes future. Losing Pandolfo may not be as bad as first thought with Hagman coming the other way. Heading into the waiver draft, it seems a tender like Potvin will be exposed or will the Canes management do the unthinkable and place Cujo on it.
Exhibit #3 Alexei Yashin
Yashin and Richardson comes in while Jaroslav Spacek, Jeff Schultz, Henrik Tallinder and Colin Fraser goes the other way. Yashin is a quality center and should be the #1 anchor. With the acquisition of Huselius, Yashin could be find himself on his line with Pavel Bure. Along with great tender, teams need a quality pivot as proven by Mario Lemieux two seasons ago for the Pens. Richardson can be seen as a throw in piece to help counter the lost of Spacek. Will Schultz, Tallinder and Fraser haunt the Canes later? With the quality they have in stock, they probably won’t.
Exhibit #4 $22,300,000
This was the total payroll gotten from these trades. This figure also added the salaries of Darius Kasparitius who was involved in a trade that include Shane Hnidy. Is this figure the price of making the playoffs? How much will the Canes increase this season’s ticket prices 100%...200%...300%? Only time will tell. To put things into perspective, Canes only gave up approximately $5,700,000. Now lets do some maths…
Verdict : 50%
With all these additions, there is no guarantee on making the playoffs. It will take time to create chemistry between the players. The pieces are there. Yashin will lead the attack and will have help from his fellow forwards. Names like Bure, Barnaby, Huselius and Nieuwendyk will be expected to share the load. This time there will depth on the roster as guys like Jarkko Ruutu, Niklas Hagman, Ronald Petrovicky will be expected to create some nuisance. However, prospects like Zherdev and Lupul might get a look in come training camp.
Defensely, loosing Spacek and Tallinder hurts. However all is not doom and gloom. Quintal, Richardson and Kasparitius will be expected to lead the blue line. One thing is for sure Kasparitius will make the fans come back with a few open ice hits. Tjarnqvist, Robidas and Melichar will provide ample support. The only thing lacking is scoring defenseman.
Goaltending is not going to be a problem. With Joseph there, their will be games the will be stolen from the other team. Rick DiPietrio will be expected to play back and get to see some action. Which means that Potvin will be squeezed out.
The other deciding factor is the schedule. If the canes get an easy schedule early, momentum could be crucial throughout the season.