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About Last Season: Coaching Staff and Front Office

It was another season near the top of the mountain for the Hurricanes, but missed opportunities prevented it from fully getting to the peak.

Carolina Hurricanes v New Jersey Devils - Game Four Photo by Josh Lavallee/NHLI via Getty Images

Carolina Hurricanes 2022-23 By the Numbers

  • Record: 52-21-9, 113 points, First place in Metropolitan Division
  • Playoff Result: Lost in Conference Final 4-0 to Florida Panthers
  • Special Teams: 19.8% PP (T-19th), 84.4% PK (2nd)
  • Advanced Stats: 59.9 CF% (1st), 55.5 GF% (7th), 57.5 xGF% (1st), 58.9 SCF% (1st)

Man, you look at those numbers, especially on the last line, and you wonder what could have been for the Carolina Hurricanes in 2022-23, don’t you?

What if Max Pacioretty doesn’t have the worst luck since Bad Luck Brian? What if Sergei Bobrovsky hadn’t decided that after bumbling around for a couple of years, this year’s playoffs were a great time to go on a heater? What if Andrei Svechnikov’s injury happened a week before the trade deadline instead of a week after? What if the Hurricanes had a functional power play?

Well, we’ll get to that last one shortly. But as we begin our season in review series today, it’s worth remembering that despite the fact the Hurricanes couldn’t quite get to the top of the mountain, this was still a season of great quality, one that ended with a third straight division title. For a club that previously had never won more than one in a row in its history, that’s not for nothing.

Front Office

  • Extensions: Ethan Bear (1 year, $2.2m), Max Lajoie (1 year, $750k), Martin Necas (2 years, $6m), Pyotr Kochetkov (4 years, $8m)
  • NHL free agent signings: Ondrej Kase (1 year, $1.5m), Paul Stastny (1 year, $1.5m), Calvin de Haan (1 year, $850k), Derek Stepan (1 year, $750k)
  • Trades: Acquired Brent Burns and Lane Pederson from the Sharks for Steven Lorentz, Eetu Makiniemi, 2023 3rd; acquired Max Pacioretty and Dylan Coghlan from the Golden Knights for nothing; traded Bear and Pederson to Vancouver for a 2023 5th; acquired Jesse Puljujarvi from the Oilers for Patrik Puistola; acquired Shayne Gostisbehere from the Coyotes for a 2026 3rd

When you look back at it, it becomes obvious that the approach of the front office this season was to tinker around the edges, find someone who can put the puck in the net, and otherwise don’t mess with too much.

In the end, it was a mixed bag for Don Waddell and company. The Martin Necas deal looked phenomenal for the first half of the season, then his production started to slip. After Andrei Svechnikov’s injury occurred Necas was cooling down significantly, then he went on the side of a milk carton during the playoffs.

The Brent Burns trade was unquestionably the high point of Waddell’s work this season. Even at 38, Burns is a rock and his pairing with Jaccob Slavin was among the very best in the entire league. They got their money’s worth out of him, for sure, and there’s very little reticence about the fact that he’s signed for two more years.

Ondrej Kase won the James Wisniewski Award for briefest tenure with the club, and Max Pacioretty couldn’t stay healthy. Neither of those can really be pinned on Waddell, and the cost of acquisition was minimal.

But the Hurricanes’ front office story this season is one of what could have been. The Canes were in on two big prizes, Matthew Tkachuk in the offseason and Timo Meier at the trade deadline. Both players would have probably cost a top-six roster player plus something else (in Tkachuk’s case, the asking price likely started at Necas, Seth Jarvis and at least one first-round pick), and the Canes came up short in the bidding.

Knowing what we know now and the fact that Necas’ trade value might be less than it was last year at this time, it’s fair to say that the front office missed an opportunity. But overall, they did what they needed to do, and what didn’t go well can largely be chalked up to circumstances outside of their control.

Coaching Staff

Here we are again, talking about Rod Brind’Amour and the Mystery of the Missing Power Play.

What went well this season? The lineup was remarkably stable, other than accounting for injuries. For the second year in a row, the combination of Jordan Staal and Jesper Fast was inseparable. Jordan Martinook had a career year, and for at least one year, put to rest any lingering caterwauling about First Line Marty. The top four defensemen were set in stone from day one, and while injuries plagued both Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta, the team managed through it well.

Couple that with a top-tier penalty kill, some truly remarkable advanced statistics, and the second-most points in franchise history, and you’d think it was a big win all the way around, with Brind’Amour continuing to push all the right buttons in his fifth season behind the bench.

But then there’s that blasted power play.

I have a theory, and it’s not worth any more than the paper this review is printed on, but I’m going to throw it out there anyway. The Hurricanes’ offensive attack is predicated on constant motion — not puck motion, necessarily, although that’s part of it, but players actually moving around the offensive zone and forcing defenders to chase them. Not only does it lead to players moving into dangerous areas, but it keeps the opposition from being able to get off the ice and allows for the Hurricanes to get reinforcements on the ice to keep the pressure on.

Between that cycle game and chances off the rush, the Hurricanes score the vast majority of their goals in one of those two scenarios. Where they don't score many goals is on set plays inside the opposing zone, where the puck moves around but the players generally don’t other than possibly trying to set up a one-timer. And guess what their power play looks like?

If Brind’Amour has one consistent blind spot, it’s his unwillingness to try new things with the man advantage. By that I don’t mean changing the personnel; I mean a whole new structure. The “power kill” works because it’s unique in the NHL and plays to the strengths of the players who execute it. What’s unique about the Hurricanes power play? What strengths does it play to? It looks like every other power play in the league, and it’s absurdly easy to scout. If you’re going to have a pedestrian power play setup, you’d better have the skill to execute it, and while the Canes aren’t lacking for talent, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl ain’t coming over the wall.

So, yeah. Fix the power play and I’d feel a lot better about the coaching staff, but if that’s the only real quibble, you’re generally in good shape.


How would you grade the Hurricanes’ front office in 2022-23?

This poll is closed

  • 21%
    A - outstanding performance
    (109 votes)
  • 61%
    B - above average performance
    (304 votes)
  • 14%
    C - average performance
    (74 votes)
  • 1%
    D - below average performance
    (6 votes)
  • 1%
    F - significantly below average performance
    (5 votes)
498 votes total Vote Now


How would you grade the Hurricanes’ coaching staff in 2022-23?

This poll is closed

  • 43%
    A - outstanding performance
    (198 votes)
  • 51%
    B - above average performance
    (235 votes)
  • 5%
    C - average performance
    (23 votes)
  • 0%
    D - below average performance
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    F - significantly below average performance
    (3 votes)
460 votes total Vote Now