Losing Cam Ward for the season ultimately cost the Hurricanes their season. This General Manager had a pretty good year, but his decision not to acquire a replacement must be considered a failure of management. Dan Ellis and Geoff Peters, combined with a mediocre at best defense proved to be too much for their top forward lines to overcome. Had Cam Ward stayed healthy for the entire season, then the Hurricanes story would have been far different in 2013. They had a roster that should have been good enough to win with a Ben Bishop or Nikolai Khabibulin type replacement. This was a god season for this team until the bottom fell completely out in the final 1/4 of the schedule.
Their 1st line of E.Staal, Semin, and Tlusty was terrific, the 2nd line was average at best, and they received very little production from their 3rd and 4th lines. Next year Jordan Staal gets even more expensive, and Alex Semin has a new 5 year $35M contract. They will have to find scoring depth on a tight budget, considering how much money they are sinking into their top 2 lines. Jeff Skinner had 25 points in 42 games and was a -21. This was not a strong season for a kid about to get a $4M raise. The salary cap pinch will rock them like a Hurricane next season, especially when filling out their blueline (where they clearly need help).
Preseason Rank: 15th
Midseason Rank: 11th
Final Rank: 27th
GM Grade: C-
1st Star: Eric Staal
2nd Star: Alex Semin
3rd Star: Jiri Tlusty
UFAs: Chad Larose, Tim Brent, Joe Corvo, Marc Bergeron, Bob Sanguinetti, Dan Ellis
RFAs: Jared Staal
Best Contract: Jay Harrison 3 more years at $1.5M
Worst Contract: Jeff Skinner 6 more years at $5.75M
What I said about them in preseason: Add
Jordan Staal and Alex Semin to a young line-up that is only going to improve
with experience, and you should have a playoff team in Carolina. Cam Ward has
proven he take a team to a Stanley Cup, the biggest question is who quickly
will their young defense reach their potential?
All should return to normal when Cam Ward returns healthy, and we should see this young roster start to realize its potential in the near future. They have some big contract extensions coming onto the books next fall, and still lack the proper horses on defense required for a being a true contender. Marc Staal is still 2 years away from free agency. It will be a struggle to field their roster under cap, assuming they are even allowed to spend to the maximum. There are no important contracts to get finished, as the extensions have already been handed out, and they weren't cheap. Granted, they did not have any serious horses on the blueline when they won the Stanley Cup in 2006. Maybe they can make due with what they've got.