Oct 2, 2009
Stephane Yelle – signed one-year deal worth $550K
Tom Kostopoulos – signed three-year deal worth $2.75 million
Ryan Bayda, Patrick Eaves
The Canes finished the year sixth in the league in shots per game and yet only 16th in goals per contest. If Carolina does a better job this year of creating traffic in front of opposing net-minders, a higher percentage of the team’s shots will find the back of the net.
Unlike the team’s defensive combinations, the forward lines of the Carolina Hurricanes remain mostly intact from the end of the 2008-09 season – and that’s a good thing.
While the Canes finished the 2008-09 season in the middle of the pack in terms of goals per game (16th out of 30 teams at 2.88 goals per game), the offensive production reached a different level after Paul Maurice arrived in early December.
Before Peter Laviolette’s dismissal, Eric Staal, Tuomo Ruutu, Ray Whitney and company were scoring 2.48 goals per game. With Maurice at the helm, that number climbed to 3.05, a figure that would have placed Carolina in the top 10 in the NHL.
Neither of the additions that Rutherford made in the offseason are going to make serious waves, but both of the acquired players should contribute.
As of right now, Yelle and Kostopoulos are listed as the fourth-line center and right wing, respectively, and both should contribute enough to more than make up the scoring that was lost when Bayda was allowed to walk and Eaves was traded to Boston in the offseason as part of the Aaron Ward trade.
Yelle only scored seven goals last season, but the number two is a more important indicator of his importance to the Canes, as in the two Stanley Cup rings he won as a member of the Colorado Avalanche in 1996 and 2001.
“He is a proven winner,” Rutherford said upon his arrival.
While there aren’t many new names on the roster at the forward or center positions, there are a number of newly written contracts.
Rutherford liked the foundation of his team and worked hard in the offseason to keep it together.
Erik Cole took a pay cut of more than $1 million to remain in Raleigh, which allowed the franchise to lock up several important free agents long-term. Those included Tuomo Ruutu, called one of the “cornerstones” of the franchise by General Manager Jim Rutherford, and Chad LaRose, a forward Rutherford labeled as “a key player for the franchise, … a popular player in our locker room and with our fans.”
Jussi Jokinen, one of the team’s most clutch players during its run to the Eastern Conference finals, was also given a new two-year deal.
All told, Canes fans should expect more production from a unit that, unlike last season, will have a healthy Rod Brind’Amour from the start of game one and a full offseason and training camp to become more familiar with the style and tactics of Coach Maurice.
1.) Rod Brind’Amour:
After a year in which the captain saw himself drop to the fourth line, you can bet the 39-year old wants to prove he’s not ready to hang up his skates. Brind’Amour brings so much leadership to the locker room that he almost doesn’t need to produce on the ice to bring value to the team, but if he’s playing as well as he can, the Canes can go three lines deep better than almost anyone. Without him, the Canes basically become a two-line team, and two-line teams don’t win Stanley Cups.
2.) Erik Cole:
To put it simply, Cole needs to play better than he did last season. After being re-acquired from the Oilers for the year’s final 17 games, Cole scored exactly two goals. If you’re wondering why he had to take a big pay cut, there is your reason. Eric Staal is one of the best players in the league and is a near lock to score 35-40 goals each year, but in order for him to cross the 90-point plateau that has eluded him since his second year in the league, he’s going to need some help from his linemates. Ray Whitney did his part last year; Cole did not.
3.) Tuomo Ruutu:
Ruutu earned every dollar of his new contract last year when he proved to be one of the tougher and most productive players on the ice for Carolina. Now, he needs to do it all again – and more. Jussi Jokinen had a great playoff run, but he hasn’t yet proven that he can produce those kinds of numbers over the course of an entire year. In fact, Jokinen has never had a regular season in which he scored more than 17 goals. And, with a seemingly oft-injured Matt Cullen centering the Canes’ second line, Ruutu needs to be the glue that holds that unit together.
just wanted to say I think this is just an absolutely on point and great article. Love the candor on the last section for Key Players and the gloves off approach about it.- Posted by Cragsdale