Offseason Roundup: Carolina Hurricanes

Sept 12, 9:02 AM

Over the next month, theScore's NHL editors will review all the offseason moves for each team around the league.

Towards the end of last season, some foresaw sweeping changes to a Hurricanes roster that was on the cusp of missing out on the playoffs for a fifth straight year. In the end, however, the makeup of a squad that finished 24th overall in the NHL remained largely intact, while significant adjustments were made behind the bench and in the front office.

Offseason Roundup

The largest waved created by the Hurricanes was the hiring of former Detroit Red Wings assistant Bill Peters as the club's new bench boss. The 48-year-old spent the majority of the past three seasons working with the Red Wings' defensemen and penalty-killers, and he quickly vowed to bring Detroit's winning culture along with him to Raleigh.

Peters also cited some things he wanted to address immediately, including the team's home record and power play; not a bad place to start, considering the Hurricanes posted a 25th ranked home record of 18-17-6, and a 28th ranked power-play that converted at a success rate of 14.6 percent.

He later added he had big plans for the likes of Eric Staal and Jeff Skinner, saying he wants to push the former to the 40-goal mark, and help the captain get back on track after a down 2013-14, wherein he recorded one power-play goal.

Later in the summer, Carolina hired veteran hockey executive Don Waddell to serve as team president. His mandate will be to help generate revenue for the franchise, thereby avoiding the same fate as another Sun Belt team that he was previously associated with: the Thrashers-turned-Jets. In other front office news, Hall of Fame member and former Dallas Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk was hired as a professional scout and advisor to Hurricanes GM Ron Francis.

In regards to the roster that finished with 83 points and earned the seventh overall pick at the 2014 Draft, the Hurricanes took a more decidedly do-it-yourself approach as opposed to looking elsewhere for help.

First, the club selected Haydn Fleury with the seventh overall pick at the Draft. The 18-year-old defenseman is projected to continue to grow his game with the WHL's Red Deer Rebels and therefore won't have an immediate impact in Carolina.

Goaltender Cam Ward wasn't traded after reportedly being deemed "expendable" by management; after a summer of strong workouts, he'll duke it out with Anton Khudobin for the starting gig on opening night. Interestingly, Khudobin suggested Ward may be past his prime back in April, setting up a potentially awkward reunion at training camp.

Alexander Semin underwent surgery to repair an issue in his wrist that fated back to last September and hampered his production all season long. The 30-year-old forward was limited to 65 games this past season, but managed to register 22 goals, 20 assists, and a 55.28 Corsi rating at even strength. If fully healthy, he should help the team's offensive attack.

Forwards Jiri Tlusty and Nathan Gerbe, as well as defenseman Ron Hainsey, put pen to paper on new contracts with the team, while the rest of the rather underwhelming "key" additions and subtractions can be seen below.

Key Additions

F Jay McClement
D Tim Gleason

Key Departures

F Andrei Loktionov
F Manny Malhotra
G Justin Peters

2014-15 Outlook

The Hurricanes have the benefit of playing in the relatively weak Metropolitan Division, but based on Francis' static approach to a roster that finished 10 points of a playoff spot last season, it's hard to imagine much in the way of improvement, even if Skinner takes the next step and E. Staal and Ward return to form.

On top of that, divisional foes such as the New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders and Washington Capitals took steps to improve, meaning the Hurricanes could very well bottom out and, be in the mix for another high draft pick next June. Considering the 2015 Draft features Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel, that might not be a bad thing.

And if things go too far south, those long-talked about sweeping changes may become a reality prior to the trade deadline.

Feature photo courtesy of USA TODAY Sports/Geoff Burke