This season should be different than most in Canes Country, mainly because of all the new players. Kirk Muller has a lot of new toys to play with. The fresh faces should not only energize the team but also the fanbase because Carolina gained a lot and only lost a little. The newbies and my thoughts on them are below:
Joe Corvo : Not a flashy addition, but one I like nevertheless. He isn't so much a new addition as he is a returner, but still it is nice to have a tough and gritty vet on the blue line. I think playing in Boston will help him. I have a feeling being in the same room as Zedeno Chara will make you a better hockey player or at least a tougher man. Corvo bring experience and toughness to the back end. Sometime the least noticeable moves are the ones that make all the difference.
Marc-Andre Gragnani : Also not flashy as this young fella is defensemen who seems to have never heard of defense. He spent the majority of his short career in Buffalo and is a powerplay QB as well as a d-man who likes to be on the rush, he has been known to be a very good passer. Goals win games so who hates this addition? Some do, probably because the slick skater might not block many shots or make many hits, but if he can turn himself into a Cane instead of a 4 teams in 2 years player we will all be thrilled.
He of course scored this weak goal on Cam Ward a few years ago to win in OT. By no means am I showing this as "check out his awesome skill" but hey at least he is on youtube. Let's hope he adds point shots and wacky bounces to his arsenal and get us 25-35 more points from the blue line.
J Staal : This is probably the biggest addition to the team because of the skill level, name, and relationship to Eric, which I am sure I do not need to explain. I have read things about them joining on the top line to make our top 3 really strong with one brother moving to wing. I am fine with anything Muller does, but wouldn't it be awesome to have out 3 centers be Staal, Skinner, Staal. I understand we brought Jordan here to escape the 3rd line and I am sure the other two won't go there, but that would provide us with incredible depth down the middle. Other than his ability to score and be a difference maker I love Jordan for special teams. Great move. Next off-season will we see a push to add the third Staal, wouldn't that be awesome.
Alexander Semin : The sports car addition of the off-season. Semin is a scorer and quite frankly could have his best year yet. He has been plagued by a bad reputation in Washington, mainly based on his laziness. I am not saying he did not earn the rep, but did you see him in the playoffs last year, he was fantastic. He was blocking shots, hustling at all times, and putting the puck around and in the net. It was almost like he knew he was playing for his next contract or maybe playing hard because he wanted too. If Carolina gets that Semin 50, 60, or hopefully 82 times this season....watch out. I have no idea what the lines are going to look like for this team, but I am sure fans will be flocking to the pro shops for a Semin jersey and hockey sandals, especially if he plays on the top line with Jordan Staal and Eric Staal. What is the over/under on his goals this season?
The objective of every off season is to get better, something the Carolina Hurricans certainly did.