A very productive first month of the New Year has been the story for the Carolina Hurricanes. However, with their performance has been well above par with a robust 7-2-1 record, it puts them in a confusing situation.
As they begin to find some consistency and success, any hockey fan knows the worst teams get the top draft choices. The Hurricanes are en route to digging themselves out of the hole they found themselves in at the beginning of the season, but it puts them back in the consistent pool of a mediocre draft choice. Since 2000, the franchise has only had four draft picks that are in the top five. It’s not to say that the Hurricanes can’t manage players and success outside the top five draft picks, but they’re not Detroit and haven’t shown much ability to harvest players in the farm system.
Despite the fact the Carolina Hurricanes have shown impressive improvement throughout the course of January, it doesn’t overshadow their unpleasant performance at the starting line. Sure, Bill Peters is in his first year of coaching, but reoccurring issues that tend to repeat themselves each season makes it tough to put any blame on the head coach himself. Year after year the Hurricanes have failed to make a good impression from the beginning of the season, and this time around could be the breaking point. Jordan Staal’s presence certainly helped depth in the lineup and make the top line lethal, but why should one player’s presence cause a shift in function?
What makes this year tough is, as they start their ascent closer to the top, their chances at the McEichel sweepstakes start to dive and the Hurricanes could use a game-changer like Jack Eichel or Connor McDavid, players who will likely go number one and two in this years draft..
The simple fact of the matter is that’s just not going to happen. Since Bill Peters has stepped behind the bench, the morale in the locker room has risen. With that in mind Peters is not the type of coach to say "Let’s go out there and suck tonight in hopes that we’ll have Eichel or McDavid in here come September."
It’s time to weigh in other options. Some may disagree or agree, but that’s just how it goes.
Trade Jeff Skinner.
Yes, trade him. It’s nothing against Skinner personally, but he just doesn’t fit well here and I’m not sure he’s happy here. He exploded his rookie season capturing the Calder Trophy as the Rookie of the Year under the Hurricanes’ watch. Not only did that give credibility to the organization, but it also showed the type of player Skinner can be. Not to mention he’s the youngest to play in an All-Star Game since Steve Yzerman. Ronny Franchise could easily get one or two round draft picks out of him. The ideal route would be to get a more physical winger or second line center for about the same age and price. Could we get Brandon Sutter back for him?
Do everything to keep Andrej Sekera.
Yes, he’s an unrestricted free agent. Yes, he deserves good money and if it weren’t for Rutherford’s questionable contract agreements he would be an easy one to keep, but I’m not sure that’s the case. He has an A on his sweater for a reason and he could be a very valuable part of the regroup/rebuild process. We were able to get rid of Jamie McBain for this guy, we have to find some way to keep him after getting him after for such a steal. His chemistry with Justin Faulk has made the top line more sound and the duo keeps Cam Ward and Anton Khudobin at ease.
Make a decision about Alexander Semin.
It’s clear he’s tested Peters’ patience and has not lived up to the expectations nor the salary he was handed by Rutherford. He was past his prime at the time he was given the contract and it should have been at most a 3-year deal. I’m no GM but it’s safe to say he was overvalued and cost the organization money they could have used elsewhere. The options they have include him leaving for Russia, sending him to the minors to free up minimal cap space, or get him back to being a 40-point producer.
From the looks of it, the Carolina Hurricanes appear to have the ability to pull themselves together for the 2015-2016 season. Several players will be in the final year of the contracts, which could lead to stepping up their game in order to receive contract extensions or a new one from another team.