3 things to do to win: Carolina Hurricanes

1. Get a goalie: (shocking, right?) Honestly, this feels way more complicated than any other problem, because of Darling's contract and a new owner who's already shown that money saving at any level is important to him. Dundon does not seem like a guy to buyout a bad contract for any reason. And buying out Darling probably isn't the right answer either - he could find his game and he has had NHL success, although as a backup. But Darling is the only NHL level goalie on contract now and he was statistically one of the worst, if not THE worst, goalie in the NHL last season. There is no way possible that the Hurricanes can enter the 2018-19 season with Darling as the starter.

Cam Ward was actually pretty good, and saved the team from Darling's horrendous play. Clearly, Ward is better suited for a backup role. If overused, his play deteriorates. Ward is an excellent backup. But if Darling stays with the team and if Darling is clearly not the #1 goalie, I don't see how Ward is back (Darling could be sent to AHL, but I'm doubtful Dundon pays for 3 goalies). I don't think our goalie prospects (Ned) are ready for #1 spot in NHL.

So the Hurricanes need to find a #1 goalie - but because of Darling's contract, probably cannot commit to a huge new contract over many years. There aren't many trade options (Washington?) or clear cut UFA options (Hutton?). Honestly, no team is giving up their best goalie, so we're probably getting an aging star or brutal contract in a trade. Hutton had a really good year, but that could be complete anomaly to otherwise average career. I don't know what Canes will do, but need to do something.

I just want to emphasize again how utterly terrible Darling was in net. He lost games for the team repeatedly. He looked lost in the crease, couldn't simply hold a puck on the ice, and flailed around as if he'd never played the position.

2. Get a scoring center: Hurricanes are incredibly weak down the middle (again, I'm blowing you away with this insight). Who was the Canes most dangerous scoring threat at center in 17-18?

  • Staal: love you man, you make everyone around you better, but scoring is not your thing.
  • Rask: Injuries, effort, Peters? I'm not sure what's wrong with him.
  • Kruger: lol
  • Ryan: 1 goal scored per 25 board battles lost.

So Ryan was almost without question the best offensive threat at the center position, and he's a 3rd-4th line wing/center on 95% of NHL teams. What does that say about the Canes? Find me a team that was worse than Canes offensively at C last season. Rask's weakness really had a ripple effect through the lineup and how the Canes were slotted.

You may say Aho was the best C.... and maybe he's the answer, but his time at C was limited and not sure that's his true position. Even if it is, Canes STILL need more scoring down the middle, it can't all be on Aho. They will not get John Tavares, so the most likely scenario is a trade, and we'll have to give up a LOT. But we should. I've thought a trade for RNH with Edmonton makes a lot of sense for both teams, but he's sort of the bare minimum upgrade that the team needs.

3. Get a veteran D: I think the blue line is screaming for a Justin Williams type leader. Justin Faulk is clearly not that guy, and it's puzzling that BP made him a co-captain. Slavin and Pesce are a joy to watch most nights, but clearly are lead-by-example types. Canes should find a team with cap trouble that wants to get younger and cheaper on D and make a trade.

What do they need to do to make these 3 moves?
All of this is easier said than done. I don't think the answer is in the free agent market. They almost certainly have to give up talent. (They aren't trading Rask and Darling and getting a big return). Clearly, Faulk and Skinner are the talk of trades, but those two won't be enough, especially since Skinner only has 1 year on his contract. We probably have to give more - guys we don't want to see go.

Here's who I think they can't trade:
Aho. #2 pick. Slavin. Williams.

This team should have complete focus only on these 3 moves. Everything else is pointless.