The Carolina Hurricanes saw some major upheaval this offseason, with two of their prior trade deadline acquisitions, Nino Niederreiter and Vincent Trocheck, leaving in Free Agency. They also traded away a 50+ point defenseman in Tony DeAngelo to the Philadelphia Flyers and sent feel-good-story Steven Lorentz to the San Jose Sharks.
But to fill out those empty spaces, the Canes acquired two former all-stars in Brent Burns and Max Pacioretty as well as defenseman Dylan Coghlan, forward Lane Pederson and once coveted winger, Ondrej Kase.
Burns, Kase and (eventually) Pacioretty can be expected to routinely draw into the lineup, but it’s yet to be seen what the designation for Cohglan and Pederson will be since the Hurricanes have a well stocked system.
But let’s take a closer look at all five of the new acquisitions.
Max Pacioretty (33, LW)
- 19 goals and 37 points in 39 games
- PP: 4 goals and 12 points
- Average TOI: 14:41 EV; 2:42 PP
- Masterton Trophy (2011-12)
- Career Playoffs: 25 goals and 49 points in 74 games
The one thing about Max Pacioretty is that he is a shooter.
He shoots from anywhere and everywhere and more likely than not, the puck finds its way into the net.
Pacioretty has a quick release and can score from any area of the ice, but he finds his way into the slot routinely and has a nose for the front of the net.
The one-time Montreal Canadiens captain (lol at Carolina and Montreal having another connected player), is a six time 30-goal scorer, last hitting that mark in the 2019-20 season.
But to be fair, if 2020-21 was a full season or if Pacioretty was healthy for this previous season, he would more than likely have eight 30-goal seasons.
And along with a being a consistent scorer, Pacioretty is still a good passer, forechecks hard and most importantly, brings a threatening presence on the power play.
It’s everything the Hurricanes have wanted in a top-six winger.
And then it was announced that he had to have surgery on his achilles tendon and would miss a sizable chunk of the season.
What was once a sure-fire pencil in for a top line winger, Pacioretty’s achilles surgery leaves a question mark on the supposed impact the winger will have.
The one question mark with Pacioretty was his injury history and it seems like for at least the first half of the season, it has proved to be a legitimate concern.
Pacioretty is slated to return in February barring any setbacks and when he does finally make his way onto the ice, it will create a very interesting situation in the top-six with Carolina having a good mix of talented forwards.
There should be no rush for Pacioretty to get back into the lineup and if he can stay healthy throughout the playoff run, his experience there should prove vital.
Projection: Top-Six Winger; PP1
Brent Burns (37, RD)
- 10 goals and 54 points in 82 games
- PP: 4 goals and 18 points
- Average TOI: 20:46 EV; 2:39 PP; 2:43 PK
- 3x All Star (2015-16; 2016-17; 2018-19)
- Norris Trophy (2016-17)
- Career Playoffs: 20 goals and 62 points in 94 games
The Canes needed a number one, offensive defenseman and so they went out and traded for Brent Burns, someone who has been “That Guy” for a large chunk of his career.
Burns is a premier passer, being able to set up quick breakouts and high-danger chances with ease and he is no slouch moving around with the puck on his stick either.
Since 2015-16, no defenseman has recorded more goals and points than Burns over that span and even if you want to look more recently, over the last three seasons, Burns is tied for 10th in total points by defensemen and just last season was 12th in total points among defensemen.
The fact that he has managed to remain as one of the top producers in the NHL even on a team that hasn’t sniffed a playoff position since the 2018-19 season is impressive.
On a bad San Jose Sharks team last season, Burns put up 54 points, which is still more than any other Hurricanes defenseman has ever put up in a single season. Imagine what he can do with a deeper, more talented roster.
Running the power play should be a breeze for him and should allow the Hurricanes to hopefully try and right the issues that they’ve had with the man-advantage due to Burns’ elite vision.
As Father Time ticks on, the odds of bodies breaking down increases, but Burns seems like the perfect candidate to defy those odds as the 6’5” defenseman hasn’t missed a game due to injury since the 2013-14 season.
A fitness nut in his own words, Burns has been a minute cruncher for years now and is still pushing the limits even at his age. Playing in virtually every scenario, Burns can be put in any situation and find his way to success.
Obviously the offense is the key, but Burns isn’t as bad defensively as he’s seemed. He’s actually seen an improvement in his defensive impacts the last few seasons and that’s all while having to anchor a pairing entirely by himself (his most common defensive partners last season were Mario Ferraro and Jaycob Megna).
Last season, Burns played the majority of his minutes (36.9%) against “Elite” competition and still came away with a 48.8 GF% despite no support around him, according to PuckIQ.com.
On the Hurricanes, Burns won’t be having to play 27 or so minutes a night and with Jaccob Slavin by his side, he won’t have to worry as much about being defensively responsible, allowing him to focus more on the offensive side of his game.
There really shouldn’t be much of a dropoff in talent with Burns sliding into that top pairing spot and to be honest, the results should be better.
Projection: Top Pair; PP1/PK
Ondrej Kase (26, RW)
- 14 goals and 27 points in 50 games
- PP: 4 goals and 8 points
- Average TOI: 11:51 EV; 0:53 PP; 1:16 PK
- Career Playoffs: 2 goals and 9 points in 31 games
The multiple-time, soon-to-be future Hurricane, now turned actual Hurricane, is coming into a loaded forward group, even with Pacioretty out for a while.
While he might have taken up Carolina’s offer for the chance to play increased minutes, the state of the Canes’ top-six leaves little wiggle room for maneuvering on into it. But that’s not to say that he couldn’t work his way on up though.
Kase has all the talent in the world and has been a highly touted player in his career. He scores goals and even recently started being a successful penalty killer on a Dean Chynoweth led PK, so what’s not to like in terms of seeing him added to this Hurricanes squad?
The only real concern with Kase is his brutal concussion history has put a serious concern on his potential impact and further career.
He’s never played a full season and missed nearly the entire 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons due to concussion concerns.
He was having a strong comeback season last year with the Toronto Maple Leafs until he once again caught a high-hit straight to the head.
Matt Duchene catches Ondrej Kase with an elbow to the head pic.twitter.com/uVhR8OsZI6— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 20, 2022
There is a more detailed story on Kase’s struggles with concussions chronicled in an Athletic article for those that may be interested ($).
Despite that, Kase seems ready to give it another go and at least starting out, odds are that he will wind up on the third line with Jordan Staal an Jesper Fast and, health provided, he should be able to provide some scoring support on that line.
If he does well, a promotion up may come along.
Projection: Third Line Winger; PP2/PK
Dylan Coghlan (24, RD)
- 3 goals and 13 points in 59 games
- PP: 2 goals and 4 points
- Average TOI: 12:53 EV; 1:02 PP; 0:17 PK
- Scored a hat-trick in his first career NHL game
The sweetener to the Max Pacioretty deal (still funny to think of that), Coghlan is young, right-handed defenseman with offensive upside.
He got time on Vegas’ second power play unit last season when half the team went down due to injuries, and he held himself fairly well on a sheltered third-pair role once the team started to regain its normal squad.
Dylan Coghlan, he who scored a hat trick in his NHL debut, looks like an average bottom-pair defenseman. Could be the Brendan Smith replacement. pic.twitter.com/zooMg9pQnH— Corey Sznajder (@ShutdownLine) July 13, 2022
Coghlan is a shot happy type of defenseman and could do well in a Carolina system that emphasizes cycling and running the offense from the blueline and he still has time to develop his skills behind a stalwart and deep blueline.
The issue however, is that the Hurricanes have a plethora of third-pairing defensemen with Ethan Bear, Jake Gardiner and Jalen Chatfield also vying for the last spots. It will be interesting to see who steals the spotlight for opening night.
Projection: 6th/7th Defenseman
- 0 goals and 2 points in 29 games
- Average TOI: 9:52 EV; 0:35 PP; 0:04 PK
An AHL talent / borderline callup, Pederson was packaged along with Brent Burns in the trade to Carolina, more than likely to balance out the contracts going each way.
But he’s a hardworking player who worked his way into the NHL as an undrafted player and that’s something that means a lot to coaches. He’ll bring AHL depth and if the need rises, he can be a fourth line, hit and grind type player to patch in for a game or two.
It’s unlikely that he will get a chance with the Hurricanes, but who knows. Maybe he will have an amazing year and see himself in the big show again.
And at the end at the end of the day let’s be honest, he’s a much, much better hockey player than me or you likely are.