RALEIGH, N.C. – This season for the Carolina Hurricanes is a continuation of successes the previous two seasons. In 2019, the Canes made a somewhat surprising run to the Eastern Conference Finals, then make the playoffs last season, falling to the Boston Bruins for a second straight year.
The one constant with the Hurricanes is how General Manager Don Waddell and Coach Rod Brind’Amour have built a well-oiled, cohesive unit on the ice. This team continues developing its skills shift after shift and game by game. It is no wonder Caniacs are Cup-hopeful this Summer.
Not only are the Canes’ fans touting their team and appreciating its talents, the NHL front office is also taking notice. Each week, the league awards “Three Stars of the Week,” while a “Rookie of the Month” is also announced every month. These awards recognize top players from around the league, and there is no surprise two Canes are on the list.
A “Marty” Party
On Monday, March 29, the NHL announced its “Three Stars of the Week.” Carolina’s own Martin “Marty” Necas was named 2nd star, while Adam Fox of the New York Rangers and Juuse Saros of the Nashville Predators were named first and third stars.
Last week, Necas tallied seven points in three games with four goals and three assists. In two games vs the Columbus Blue Jackets, Martin had two goals and an assist while recording a career-high four points (2g, 2a), including the game-winner against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Ned is no April Fool
On April 1, and not an April Fool’s, rookie netminder Alex Nedeljkovic was named “Rookie of the Month” for March. With a 6-1-1 record, Alex posted an impressive 1.85 goals-against average and an even more impressive .934 save percentage.
As Nedeljkovic has stepped up during the absence of an injured Petr Mrazek, Waddell is going to have a lot to think about with a three-goalie rotation.
This is a great segue to our next topic…
Latest Hurricanes News
- NHL Revamped Rosters for 2021-22: Metropolitan Division Pt. 1
- Carolina Hurricanes: Top 10 Prospects
- Andrei Svechnikov Signs New Eight-Year Contract With Hurricanes
- NHL Notebook: Bolts Take 2-0 Series Lead; Dundon Approved; Nugent-Hopkins Signs
- Stanley Cup Playoffs: Second Round Schedule
First, let’s highlight what the Hurricanes have accomplished up to this point.
- 51 points in 35 games played (.729 win percentage)
- Currently 3rd in a tightly contested Central division.
- 1st overall on the Power Play at 29.6%
- 7th overall with an 82.9% Penalty Kill
- 10th in goals-for with 113 goals scored
- 9th in goals-allowed with 88 goals allowed
All of these are promising numbers for a strong playoff run.
In addition to these accolades, the Canes now have a solid three-goalie rotation with Mrazek, James Reimer and Nedeljkovic. Let’s not forget that Jake Bean, Necas, and Warren Foegele are progressing well. Dougie Hamilton, Sebastian Aho, Andrei Svechnikov, and Vincent Trocheck are all more than capable of putting the team on their shoulders when needed.
If Carolina were to trade for someone, the first question is, “what do they need?”
- Defenseman? The current trend would suggest not.
- Offense? Again, there are plenty of weapons to match any team in the division or the final four.
- Goaltending? If anything, their cup runneth over…pun intended.
This brings me to something I brought up on Twitter a couple of weeks ago: who finds themselves with a new team on-or-before April 12, Mrazek or Reimer?
As Mrazek’s return looks imminent, a three-goalie rotation will result in an odd-man-out situation. Who is left without a crease when the music stop, Mrazek or Reimer?
It is doubtful the Hurricanes send Nedeljkovic packing as he appears to be their netminder of the future, though his one-way contract with the club expires after this season. Reimer has been the primary starter for most of the season during Mrazek’s absence. Do you disrupt that chemistry by sending him away? The last option would be to shop Mrazek’s worth on the trade market.
If a goalie were to find themselves on a new team, that frontrunner would be the Colorado Avalanche. As Philip Grubauer continues his Vezina-like season, the backup position has been null and void. Carolina could acquire multiple draft picks for either of their veteran goalies, thus adding to the pool of solid prospects in the Hurricanes system.
According to http://www.capfriendly.com, Mrazek is a $3.25M cap hit, while Reimer’s AAV is 3.4M. At the deadline, the Avalanche’s projected cap space is $3.34M, making it possible to take on either goalie as a backup for a run at the Stanley Cup.
Aside from getting something in return for Reimer or Mrazek, it seems the Hurricanes should stand pat this season, pushing forward with the group they’ve so meticulously pieced together.
As we are now 9 days away from the trade deadline, it will be exciting to watch the push to the playoffs and see what players come and go once the dust has settled on April 13.