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Carolina Hurricanes Top 20 At 20: Numbers 10-6

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The theme today? Height — or the lack thereof.

Carolina Hurricanes Stanley Cup Celebration Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images

The Carolina Hurricanes have not been blessed with a ton of size over the past twenty years. That’s reflected in today’s third installment of the Top 20 At 20, with three players under six feet tall making the top ten of our countdown.

What they do have is plenty of silverware. Included in our countdown today are two Stanley Cup champions, a Calder Trophy, and a double honoree as the fastest skater at the All-Star skills competition. Good things, at least where the Hurricanes are concerned, do come in small packages.


Hurricanes v Red Wings Photo by Elsa/Getty Images/NHLI

10. Sami Kapanen

Years with Canes: 1997-2003
Scoring totals: 127 Goals, 187 assists, for 314 points in 440 games
How acquired: Drafted 87th overall by Hartford Whalers in 1995

Probably the fastest player to don a Carolina Hurricanes sweater, Sami Kapanen was one of the most entertaining Hurricanes players to watch and he was an important part of the team’s success in 2001-2002. Kapanen had a career season in 2001-02 tallying 27 goals, 42 assists, for 69 points in 77 games while also adding 9 points in 23 playoff games. Kapanen also scored 20 goals in every season with the Hurricanes in which he played at least 70 games, and he was the first Hurricanes player to win an event at the NHL All-Star Skills Competition, taking the fastest skater crown in 2000 and 2002. - Matt Krombach


Edmonton Oilers v Carolina Hurricanes: Game 7 Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images

9. Erik Cole

Years with Canes: 2001-2008; 2009-2011
Scoring totals: 168 goals, 195 assists, 363 points in 557 games
How acquired: Drafted 71st overall in 1998; Re-acquired in a three-way deal that sent Justin Williams to LA and Patrick O'Sullivan to EDM - 3/4/2009

Currently fifth among Carolina Hurricanes players all-time in games played with 557, Cole was one of the team’s most electric forwards from 2005-2008, compiling 171 points in 204 games. In 2006, the big, powerful winger was in the midst of his best NHL season at just under a point-per-game pace when his neck was broken by a hit from behind into the boards by Brooks Orpik. He returned from his injury in game six of the Stanley Cup Final and helped the Hurricanes to hoist the Cup just three nights later. Cole possessed a rare combination of size and speed, and at his best had the ability to make something electric happen each time he touched the puck. The 2008 summer trade of Cole to Edmonton netted the Canes Joni Pitkanen, but his time away from Raleigh lasted less than a year as GM Jim Rutherford re-acquired him in March of 2009. Following his last game in Carolina in 2011, he went on to play four more seasons for Montreal, Dallas and Detroit. - Kevin LeBlanc


Maple Leafs v Hurricanes Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images/NHLI

8. Jeff O’Neill

Years with Canes: 1997-2004
Scoring totals: 176 goals, 183 assists, 359 points in 536 games
How acquired: Selected 5th overall by Hartford Whalers in 1994

Time and the 2006 Stanley Cup run pushed O’Neill into the memory bank soon after he left the Hurricanes (do you remember that he was traded less than a year before the Canes won the Cup?), but for many years he was the most feared scorer on the roster. An explosive scorer in junior, O’Neill started slowly in the NHL but eventually came into his own after the move to North Carolina. His strong skating and playmaking ability were accompanied by a nasty streak that would not allow opposing checkers to take liberties with him. After helping lead the Hurricanes to their first Stanley Cup final in franchise history in 2002, O’Neill notched his third straight 30-goal season in 2002-03. Injuries limited O’Neill’s offensive output in 2003-04, and following the lockout he was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs during the 2005 draft. - Cody Hagan


Edmonton Oilers v Carolina Hurricanes: Game 7 Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images

6 (tied): Ray Whitney

Years with Canes: 2005-2010
Scoring totals: 119 goals, 215 assists, 334 points in 372 games
How acquired: Signed as a free agent, 8/7/2005

A casualty of the new salary cap in the 2005 offseason, Whitney was bought out by the Detroit Red Wings and came to Carolina on a bargain-basement deal. All he did the following season was contribute to the most unlikely Stanley Cup run since the 1995 Devils, and that was just the beginning. In five seasons with the Hurricanes - from age 33 to 37 - Whitney hit career highs in goals and points, with 32 and 83 respectively in the 2006-07 season, and he averaged nearly a point per game in all but his final season with the Canes. His 372 games with Carolina were the most he played with any one team in his 22-year career, and he will always be remembered for an NSFW exclamation aired live on NBC after he won the only Stanley Cup of his career. - Brian LeBlanc


Jamie Kellner

6 (tied): Jeff Skinner

Years with Canes: 2010-present
Scoring totals: 161 goals, 143 assists, 304 points in 470 games
How acquired: Drafted 7th overall in 2010

No player in Hurricanes history has had the instant impact that Skinner did in his rookie season. In his first training camp, he made it obvious that a return trip to the Kitchener Rangers was not in order, and he went on to score 31 goals and 63 points that season, second to Eric Staal in both categories. His performance earned him an All-Star Game bid at his home rink in 2011, as well as the first Calder Trophy in franchise history. While his health suffered with three concussions in as many years, he’s been back healthy for two straight years, and after being named an alternate captain this season, he’s on pace for another 30-goal season and his fourth 50-point campaign in seven NHL seasons. He barely missed out on the top-five, but if this was a popularity contest, Skinner would likely win going away; no Hurricane save maybe Mike Commodore has endeared himself to Canes fans as much as Skinner has. - Brian LeBlanc