Hurricanes have chance to change direction of franchise
Posted June 25
Updated June 26
Carolina Hurricanes general manager Ron Francis has had a busy week.
The Hurricanes have named Bill Peters the next head coach of the organization, which will in turn affect the type of system the team will play.
With the NHL draft starting Friday and the free agent signing period coming up July 1st, the players that will be on the ice for the former Detroit assistant coach is starting to take shape.
Francis inked two players, who made their Hurricanes debuts last season, to new deals Tuesday.
Unlike last season, defenseman Ron Hainsey did not have to wait until training camp to sign a contract. The steady blue liner appeared in all 82 games for the team and paired well with Brett Bellemore. He was set to be an unrestricted free agent this summer. Hainsey is not a thumper, he is a smart player that moves the puck well and is a solid veteran presence in the locker room, all things the organization needs.
Nathan Gerbe jumped onto the ice and tied or set career highs in goals and points with Carolina last year. The forward found a role with the Hurricanes and provided the hustle the fan base here loves to see from its players. As a restricted free agent Gerbe did not have a lot of options come July 1st, but the organization saw the value in his play and didn’t let him find out if anyone else was interested in his skill set.
The team also signed Chris Terry to a two-way deal. Terry has shown that he can be called up from AHL affiliate Charlotte and fill a role when needed and organizational depth is a must in today’s NHL.
All these signings are safe for the organization, they know what they are getting and these are players that are dependable. But they do not change a team that has missed the playoffs the last five seasons. None of them provide an upgrade in the size department either, which has been talked about as a focal point this off-season in building the team.
Plus, Francis still has decisions to make on restricted free agents Jiri Tlusty, Andrei Loktionov, Drayson Bowman and unrestricted free agents Brett Bellemore and Manny Malhotra. Also, the question of Joni Pitkanen still stands, on whether he can play and if so should he wear a Hurricanes jersey – if he is healthy and cleared does the team take a chance on him? These signings won’t give the Hurricanes much room to sign game changing free agents, especially after what seemed to be a decision by owner Peter Karmanos to stop spending to the cap.
With the seventh overall pick in the draft Carolina should bring in another young player that could make the roster this year. This will be an important pick for the franchise, another piece to add to Jeff Skinner, Justin Faulk and Elias Lindholm which all are a huge part of the organization’s future.
While the attention this weekend might fall on if Carolina can draft another player like Jeff Skinner with the seventh pick like they did in 2010, the bigger question is will Francis make a bold move to change the direction of the franchise?
Rumors have flown around that captain Eric Staal may be dealt and just about every team from Toronto to Anaheim has been mentioned as a destination. Is there a market for Cam Ward? Will the new GM pull the trigger on a deal that will move the foundation of the Hurricanes from those players to the younger group? That answer could come as soon as Friday night.
So far the team looks like the personnel will resemble last season’s squad, and while there might be some good parts at the PNC Arena, they have yet to fit into the playoff puzzle. The next three weeks will show a lot about how that picture will come together.