Wes Goldstein from CBSSports.com previewed the Southeast Division on Tuesday and predicted that the division might just tighten up a bit. Thanks to "aggressive" new management in Atlanta, Tampa Bay, and Sunrise, Florida, he sees each of those teams trending up while so far the Washington Capitals and Carolina Hurricanes are heading "sideways".
At this point, one really can't argue with him too much as Rick Dudley has brought in several new faces to play for the Thrashers, Dale Tallon had a terrific draft class in Los Angeles for the Panthers, and Steve Yzerman apparently gets credit for being a great manager simply because he was a tremendous Red Wing captain.
While Goldstein does credit Jim Rutherford for possibly being "the league's most under-appreciated uber-GM", he went on to say that Carolina's big free agent signing was Joe Corvo and the franchise is moving "sideways."
Washington has yet to make any significant free agent moves themselves, but the offseason is still young and everyone knows they will beef up the lineup sooner or later. They still have some room with their cap.
This is probably just the first of numerous projections that the Hurricanes will not be improved from last season. It should give the team extra motivation, if nothing else.