Look up "fan favorite" in the dictionary and chances are you'll come across a picture of Chad LaRose. The 28-year-old forward cracked the Hurricanes’ lineup for good in 2006-07, fueled by the mix of effort, intensity and spunk that earned him a role the season before on Carolina's romp to its first Stanley Cup. Since then he's honed his scoring ability, potting a career-high 19 goals and 31 points last season, while still bringing the agitator skills and all-out effort that first earned him a spot in the NHL.
That growth earned him a new two-year deal with Carolina this past offseason.
|2009 - Chad LaRose||56||11||17||28||-2||24||0||1||0||0||138||8.0|
LaRose is the perfect example of home-grown talent. He was undrafted after three seasons with the Plymouth Whalers — the OHL team owned by Hurricanes CEO Peter Karmanos Jr. — but a found a home in the Carolina system, working his way up the ladder from the ECHL to the AHL and, finally, the NHL.
The Good: Once LaRose overcame a series of injuries that both slowed him and kept him out of the lineup, he returned to the impact player that is so important to Carolina's success. In the season's last 25 games, LaRose had nine goals and 12 assists and was a plus-13 as a veteran presence in a lineup chocked full of prospects and call-ups. His abilities as a penalty killer are appreciated in Raleigh, but relatively unnoticed throughout the league. He's unselfish, a great locker room/glue guy and hasn't let success go to his head. He continues to play as if every shift will determine whether or not he'll be an NHLer tomorrow. His 120 hits ranked third among Carolina forwards.
The Bad: For the second time in three seasons LaRose was limited to fewer than 60 games, but he did show guts by playing through early season injuries even though they clearly hampered his play. His 19 goals in 2008-09 will likely go down as a career-high because he does not have the ability to contribute on the power play — zero goals in more than 133 career power play minutes — and his ability to finish chances is hit or miss. He blocked just 14 shots this season, very few for a player that is often out on the penalty kill.
The Money: LaRose earned $1.5 million in 2009-10 in the first year of a new two-year contract. He'll earn $1.9 million next season then can again become an unrestricted free agent. His current contract is identical to that of teammate Jussi Jokinen.