banner
Adam Gold

Canes changes will have to come from within

Posted March 2
Updated March 3

Kirk Muller Pic Post-Montreal

The numbers are bleak. However, the reality and the rebuild might be worse.

With 22 games left to play, the Carolina Hurricanes are not only seven points out of a playoff spot, but they're in 13th place in the Eastern Conference. That means there are five teams to leapfrog over the final six weeks of the season. Under normal circumstances, the task would be daunting, but it's the secondary numbers that tell the true story.

When the Canes went to bed January 31st, they were sleeping on a 3-1 win over the St Louis Blues -- one of the best, and toughest teams in the Western Conference -- and in prime position. Carolina was third in the Metropolitan Division, winners of five of their last six and looking at three more home games before players scattered for the Olympic break. It looked as though, finally, Kirk Muller had his team playing his brand of aggressive, attacking hockey. It was almost a shame that the team had to sit on the euphoria of that win over St. Louie, maybe their most complete game of the year when you consider the opponent as well as the performance.

Three nights later central division, cellar-dwelling Winnipeg came to town and beat the Canes 2-1 on a goal with just over a minute remaining. And even though Carolina would bounce back a few days later with an easy win over Florida, the damage was done. Dominated and lethargic in a 4-1 loss to the Canadiens, the Canes ended the pre-Olympic schedule with a thud, dropping two of three, and falling three points out of the final playoff spot.

Unfortunately, it was more of the same after the closing ceremonies.

Carolina played well Tuesday night in Buffalo, but nonetheless dropped the opener of a five game road trip. Thursday in Dallas they weren't ready to play and paid the price, losing 4-1. Then Saturday afternoon they fell 3-1 in Los Angeles. Four goals in three post-Sochi games, and a total of five in their fourth consecutive loss. The offense that looked more than adequate since a New Year's Eve comeback win over Montreal had suddenly gone dry. From December 31 through the end of January, Carolina scored 52 goals, roughly 3 1/2 per game -- and that's with being shut out three times -- in going 11-4 over that stretch.

Those were the days.

The Canes offensive woes are evident throughout the line up. They're 22nd in the NHL in scoring, and a lot of that is due to a power play so impotent, no yellow pill could get it going. Carolina is 29th in the league with the man advantage having scored just 28 power play goals all season -- or, a little more than half as much as Pittsburgh's 50. In today's NHL, you have to get something out of your special teams and the Canes just don't.

Carolina is only slightly better at killing penalties, ranking 21st, which isn't a whole lot to text home about. But, we could lament the scoring woes all night long and it wouldn't really begin to tell the story of the future of this team. Because the truth of the matter is that if this franchise is going to get back into the playoffs, this is the group of players that is going to bring it there.

Carolina does not have a player coming up in the system that resembles a top-six forward or a top-line defenseman. Elias Lindholm, this year's fifth round pick, has proven that he wasn't really ready to play with the men in the NHL. I'm not doubting his future, most of the people who know better than I, think he's a very good player who may eventually be a second line center. Ryan Murphy, the 12th pick in the 2011 draft has had a tough first full year in the league and, in-fact, has been sent to the minors.

Those are the two best prospects in the Hurricanes system. After that, there are a few solid blue liners, but no one thought to be a player you could slot into the top four. No high-scoring wingers, no physical defensemen and no goalie-of-the-future.

This is the team you have unless team president Jim Rutherford can figure something out on the trade market. But, what does Carolina have to offer that would bring back a significant return? No one is trading for ANY of the Canes' high-dollar players. Cam Ward, even when healthy, wasn't playing well enough for a team in need to roll the dice on a $6 million price tag for two more years. Alex Semin and his 5-year albatross of a contract? Even if he was producing like a $7 million annual player, who among the few teams with that kind of salary cap room is going to take that chance. What about Jordan Staal? 27 points in 59 games doesn't exactly put him in Lee Majors territory.

So what does this team have to sell? Ron Hainsey? I'd just as soon sign him to an extension than send him somewhere for a 4th round pick. He's a good player, shouldn't be too expensive, and as I pointed out earlier, there isn't exactly anyone coming to push him out of the line up. Jiri Tlusty? Tuomo Ruutu? Patrick Dwyer? You might find suitors for one of them -- though the $10 million owed to Ruutu over the next two seasons could be an obstacle -- but what would you possibly get in return?

The Carolina Hurricanes have but two viable assets that might bring something valuable in return. The first is Anton Khudobin. Even though Khudobin is the best goaltender in a Carolina sweater right how, and gives this team the better chance to win on any given night, Cam Ward is going to be the goalie next year. Unless Cam is more Rick DiPietro than Martin Brodeur, Ward will be the number one net minder for the franchise until he proves that he can't. But Khudobin, with his $800,000 dollar price tag and no commitment for next year, that's easily a tradable commodity for something of value.

The other asset would hurt, at least with a certain segment of the fan demographic. Jeff Skinner hasn't come close to returning to the player he was as a rookie, though he flashed signs that it was coming about a month ago. But, if you could turn Skinner into a couple of upper echelon prospects, you'd have to consider the move.

Other than those players, I fail to see a move of significance for the Canes. Trading anything else wouldn't bring enough in return. And, it would seem, well, let's just say unlikely that there's another team to bail Carolina out of payroll jail like the Dodgers did for the Red Sox two years ago. Make no mistake, Carolina is in a bad way with their roster when it comes to salaries, with nearly $50 million committed next year to just 12 players.

Well, there's always the draft. Yeah, about that…..

The Hurricanes have just two players from the last six drafts that have made a significant impact on this -- or any other -- franchise; Skinner and Justin Faulk.

On the bright side, there isn't any reason why this team, with these players, no matter how over valued they might be, can't be a productive team that makes the playoffs and is dangerous once they're in the field. All they really need is a healthy dose of nasty to their line up. Or they could change head coaches again.

I'm not advocating for firing Kirk Muller, I think he's a good coach. But, this team sure doesn't play with the consistency, and tenacity necessary to do what's needed to earn one of those eight playoff spots. Maybe he's not the right guy after all. Too bad Paul Maurice has a gig right now.

It's been a long time since the Carolina Hurricanes were in a playoffs. While it's possible that changes could be in the offing, the more I look at it the more I believe that this is the team, for better or worse. They'll either dig their way out of this hole, or we'll dance to the same music a year from now.

12 Comments

This blogpost is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • NoDumpingThePuck Mar 4, 10:38 p.m.

    Unfortunately, Karmanos is never going to just fire Rutherford. He is loyal to JR, and I don't... View More

    — Posted by collegetown44

    Unfortunately I agree, but JR can be a man and do the deed himself. If he really cares about this franchise, he will step down and mentor a young GM as an owner.

  • thereo Mar 4, 10:28 p.m.

    The problem with the Canes comes mainly in two parts.
    First: JR can't seem to assess talent in the drafts very well. We have no depth in the Checkers team which falls upon JR. Other teams draft young talent that needs work but can be brought along. Nash, Bowman, Boychuck? Really?
    Second, Eric Staal has got to go. He is the cancer of this team, and is not deserving of the C on his sweater. Laziness, bad attitude, bad penalties, etc. When he was out with his injury, the team started winning and playing with life. As soon as he returned, the team fell backwards, again.
    Things are the main two things but there are plenty more that we could bring up.

  • wlcat609 Mar 4, 8:26 p.m.

    The good news for the Canes as they continue this slide - right now they'd have the sixth pick in the draft. Having said that relatively few of the draftees of the past have appeared in a Cane's uniform in the regular season.

    And if you really want to be realistic, the Canes really don't have much to trade as this point - think about it!

  • collegetown44 Mar 4, 10:10 a.m.

    Unfortunately, Karmanos is never going to just fire Rutherford. He is loyal to JR, and I don't see that happening in the near future. It is similar to what the Panthers owner and former GM Hurney had, basically these local owners like things personal and not business.

  • thomasew52 Mar 3, 6:50 a.m.

    Too many $s invested in the wrong people, now, can't get rid of them. Bad situation.

  • GunnyGoesArrrgh Mar 2, 5:56 p.m.

    I don't see the Canes digging - or skating - their way out of the hole they've dug themselves into, unfortunately.

    Muller may not be the right coach, but I don't know who could turn this team around.

    As for trades, I hope they don't put Khudobon on the block; he's one of the few players who has played consistently well. And why does it seem that players who floundered in Raleigh have success with other teams (Cole, Whitney, Jokenin, to name a few).

    There's something rotten in Raleigh, and until that changes, it's tee time instead of playoffs.

  • neal7694 Mar 2, 4:30 p.m.

    Time for JR to step aside and let someone else oversee this mess. Whoever is the PP coach needs to go as well.

  • jdpridg Mar 2, 4:24 p.m.

    Change shouldn't come from within. It should come from above. The wrong people are being held accountable. The decisions that put us in this spot didn't come from the ice or the bench. They came from the office.

  • amcrimmon Mar 2, 2:58 p.m.

    Time for Rutherford to go, he has proven to ineffective at evaluating talent.

  • melledge Mar 2, 1:11 p.m.

    Adam, if you're going to put yourself out there as a expert about hockey, at least learn how to spell Coach Muller's name. It makes the rest of your assertions look amateurish.

More...

 

 

  • The Logan Zone

    Today at 11:30 am on WRAL-TV

  • NFL: Detroit at New England

    Today at 1:00 pm on FOX50

  • NFL: Cleveland at Atlanta

    Today at 1:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NFL: Miami at Denver

    Today at 4:25 pm on WRAL-TV

  • CBB: NC State vs. South Florida

    Today at 4:00 pm on WRAL-FM

  • NFL: Washington at San Francisco

    Today at 4:15 pm on 99.9 The Fan

  • NFL: Dallas at NY Giants

    Tonight at 8:30 on 99.9 The Fan

Scoreboard
Local
Final
NCCU 21
NCA 14
 
Final
DAVID 72
UNC 90
Final
ECU 34
TULA 6
 
Final
COL 4
CAR 3
Final
DUKE 70
STAN 59
4:00pm Today
CREI
NCCU
 
4:00pm Today
NCSU
SFLA
 
6:00pm Tonight
MIA
CHA
 
Final
ORL 92
MIA 99
Final
IND 83
PHO 106
Final
NYK 91
PHI 83
Final
CLE 93
TOR 110
Final
HOU 95
DAL 92
Final
MIN 101
SAC 113
Final
SAN 99
BRK 87
Final
MIL 100
WAS 111
Final
UTA 94
NOP 106
6:00pm Tonight
MIA
CHA
 
6:00pm Tonight
MEM
LAC
 
6:00pm Tonight
BOS
POR
 
7:00pm Tonight
OKC
GSW
 
9:30pm Tonight
LAL
DEN
 
Final
UGA 55
CHSO 9
Final
UF 52
EKU 3
Final
OSU 42
IND 27
Final
OKLA 44
KU 7
Final
UAB 18
MARS 23
Final
NEB 24
MINN 28
Final
PURD 14
NW 38
 
Final
ILL 16
PSU 14
Final
MSU 45
RUTG 3
Final
UCF 53
SMU 7
 
Final
SCAR 37
SALABAMA 12
Final
WKENT 45
TXSANANTO 7
 
Final
WAKE 6
VT 3
 
Final
ODU 30
LATU 27
Final
ARST 52
WASU 31
Final
CMICH 20
WMICH 32
 
Final
COLST 58
NMU 20
Final
LALAF 16
APPST 35
Final
BST 45
EMICH 30
Final
HOU 38
TULSA 28
Final
UTAH 10
ARZ 42
Final
FSU 20
BC 17
Final
UNT 17
FIU 14
 
Final
CLEM 28
GASTATE 0
 
Final
ND 28
LOU 31
 
Final
MICH 16
MD 23
 
Final
ARK 30
MISS 0
Final
PITT 30
SYR 7
Final
ISU 31
TTU 34
 
Final
ECU 34
TULA 6
 
Final
IOWA 24
WISC 26
Final
MEM 31
SFLA 20
Final
CAL 17
STAN 38
Final
NMST 17
LAMON 30
Final
ALA 48
WCAR 14
Final
OREG 44
COL 10
Final
MTST 35
FATL 34
Final
UVA 30
MIAMI 13
Final
AUB 31
SAMF 7
Final
TENN 21
MIZZ 29
Final
BAY 49
OKST 28
Final
MSST 51
VANDY 0
Final
UCONN 0
CIN 41
Final
UCLA 38
USC 20
Final
WYO 14
BSU 63
Final
NEV 20
FRES 40
 
Final
WASH 37
ORST 13
Final
HAW 37
UNLV 35
 
Final
PRIN 68
INCWORD 79
 
Final
UMASS 68
ND 81
Final
GEOR 80
RMU 66
 
Final
LAS 59
PETE 50
Final
VT 63
APP 65
 
Final
IUPUI 71
BST 69
Final
WMICH 91
DRAK 75
 
Final
RICH 80
HIGH 56
 
Final
MSST 71
UTST 63
Final
CAMP 48
COL 54
 
Final
DAVID 72
UNC 90
Final
NIOWA 66
UNF 49
 
Final
CSNO 79
SAMF 72
 
Final
YALE 61
MLOWELL 63
 
Final
NEV 50
CLEM 59
Final
PROV 80
FSU 54
 
Final
MARQ 89
NEOM 97
Final
DET 66
SALA 53
 
Final
TXSA 80
TXST 67
 
Final
CHIST 75
TRINCHRIS 52
 
Final
UMO 63
LIB 52
 
Final
BONA 59
CAN 53
 
Final
SAV 87
CLST 83
 
Final
NW 68
ELON 67
 
Final
RFLSH 57
MDES 53
 
Final
CARK 68
SEMIZ 74
 
Final
AFA 90
WSCO 60
 
Final
YOUNG 82
LONG 72
 
Final
MTST 66
SOUTH 48
 
Final
ARKLR 73
UMKC 68
Final
ABCHRIST 81
DUQ 102
 
Final
WEBER 58
LSU 72
 
Final
BUT 80
GHND 39
 
Final
CSFU 70
SJST 66
 
Final
WOFF 72
SD 68
Final
NORST 76
TXSOU 66
 
Final
COOK 42
TOWS 63
 
Final
SILL 46
YALE 53
 
Final
KNST 83
ALCOR 80
 
Final
MAN 78
BING 63
 
Final
JVST 88
MILES 71
 
Final
CSOU 79
WRST 86
 
Final
CITA 81
BOBJONES 50
 
Final
INDST 78
BRO 66
 
Final
WYO 56
COL 33
 
Final
GSOUT 97
FCCOL 41
 
Final
CCAR 76
PIEDINT 33
 
Final
LATU 63
AMER 44
 
Final
MAR 62
ARMY 76
 
Final
TENT 69
CHAT 67
Final
EKENT 115
CLERMONT 50
 
Final
SMU 77
EWASH 68
Final
NIAG 62
HART 65
 
Final
PENN 77
LAF 83
 
Final
UCSB 91
MASTERS 45
 
Final
BUCK 69
MNTER 73
 
Final
VMI 93
UNCW 110
 
Final
RIU 66
NEB 62
Final
NKENTUCKY 98
OHMWSTRN 48
 
Final
GTDNS 73
QUIN 76
 
Final
EMICH 70
UNCG 62
Final
ETST 98
UNCA 87
 
Final
TEMPL 50
UNLV 57
 
Final
STJOE 68
VERM 60
 
Final
MON 65
CCST 50
Final
KSU 78
ILLCH 60
Final
FAIR 60
SHSU 74
Final
LIP 74
TRANSYLVAN 63
 
Final
FUR 55
UCD 58
Final
WKENT 63
BEL 64
Final
NDST 74
HAMP 66
 
Final
IND 85
LAM 72
 
Final
TTU 80
MIZST 68
Final
HOU 72
MRGST 57
 
Final
NAVY 44
NE 68
Final
ALAAM 81
OAKW 61
 
Final
WILL 60
SELA 57
 
Final
TULA 89
SONO 45
 
Final
TXPA 82
A 77
 
Final
RICE 65
WMARY 69
Final
TXARL 87
HOUB 69
 
Final
MINN 69
UMBC 51
 
Final
UTEP 77
NMST 76
 
Final
GONZ 109
STTHOM 55
Final
SUTAH 75
WLVRN 85
 
Final
PBY 49
MORE 69
 
Final
DUKE 70
STAN 59
Final
WISC 78
BSU 54
Final
PORT 75
SIUE 53
9:30am Today
MAINE
VALPO
 
11:30am Today
GMAS
COC
 
12:00pm Today
FSU
UMASS
 
12:00pm Today
SHSU
WOFF
 
12:00pm Today
UNCG
YOUNG
 
12:30pm Today
CMICH
ARKPB
 
1:00pm Today
ILLCH
SILL
 
1:30pm Today
MORE
AMER
 
1:30pm Today
CORN
DREX
 
2:00pm Today
CCST
COOK
 
2:00pm Today
ARKLR
CSNO
 
2:00pm Today
LEH
CLMB
 
2:00pm Today
USB
MERMAR
 
2:00pm Today
FAIR
SD
 
2:00pm Today
NMU
TEXAM
 
2:00pm Today
STLU
TAMCC
 
2:30pm Today
EMICH
LONG
 
2:30pm Today
ND
PROV
 
3:00pm Today
RAD
CATAWBA
 
3:00pm Today
DEN
COPST
 
3:00pm Today
UAB
JST
 
3:00pm Today
WICHS
NWM
 
3:00pm Today
OKLA
NWST
 
3:30pm Today
PSU
USC
 
3:30pm Today
KSU
YALE
 
4:00pm Today
CREI
NCCU
 
4:00pm Today
NCSU
SFLA
 
4:00pm Today
UCR
STKAT
 
4:05pm Today
HC
NICHOLSCOL
 
4:30pm Today
BC
DAY
 
4:30pm Today
MON
TOWS
 
4:30pm Today
SAMF
UMKC
 
4:30pm Today
HOF
WAGN
 
5:00pm Tonight
CIN
EILL
 
5:00pm Tonight
UGA
FATL
 
5:00pm Tonight
BRAD
NCAT
 
5:00pm Tonight
LATU
PBY
 
5:00pm Tonight
RUTG
Terriers
 
5:30pm Tonight
NAVY
BING
 
6:00pm Tonight
SHU
GWEBB
 
6:00pm Tonight
UNT
IONA
 
6:00pm Tonight
KENT
MNTST
 
6:00pm Tonight
FORD
MLOWELL
 
6:00pm Tonight
UCF
USCU
 
6:30pm Tonight
SCAR
AKR
 
6:30pm Tonight
WVU
UCONN
 
7:00pm Tonight
CALST
DEL
 
7:00pm Tonight
HOW
HOOD
 
7:00pm Tonight
OSU
SHU
 
7:00pm Tonight
VANDY
TENST
 
8:00pm Tonight
NE
MAN
 
8:00pm Tonight
COLST
MERC
 
8:00pm Tonight
MISS
NARZ
 
8:00pm Tonight
WASH
PAC
 
8:00pm Tonight
LMU
SDCHR
 
9:00pm Tonight
CHAR
MIAMI
 
9:00pm Tonight
ILLST
ODU
 
9:00pm Tonight
GAELS
UCI
 
10:00pm Tonight
UCLA
LBSU
 
10:30pm Tonight
SEAT
MONT
 
Final
OTT 2
STL 3
Final
WAS 1
BUF 2
Final
PHI 4
CLB 2
Final
TOR 4
DET 1
 
Final
TAM 2
MIN 1
Final
BOS 0
MON 2
 
Final
NYI 4
PIT 1
 
Final
NAS 3
FLA 2
Final
DAL 5
LOS 4
Final
COL 4
CAR 3
Final
EDM 1
CHI 7
Final
CAL 5
NJD 4
Final
SJS 3
ARI 4
4:30pm Today
WIN
STL
 
7:00pm Tonight
NYR
MON
 
8:00pm Tonight
ANA
ARI
 
9:30pm Tonight
VAN
CHI
 
1:00pm Today
HOU
CIN
1:00pm Today
ATL
CLE
1:00pm Today
NEP
DET
1:00pm Today
MIN
GBP
1:00pm Today
IND
JAC
1:00pm Today
CHI
TAM
1:00pm Today
PHI
TEN
4:05pm Today
SEA
ARI
4:05pm Today
SDC
STL
4:25pm Today
DEN
MIA
4:25pm Today
SFX
WAS
8:30pm Tonight
NYG
DAL
Final
NCCU 21
NCA 14