The Hurricanes have had their best start in franchise history, running off five straight wins to start the season.
At the end of the first month of play, the Hurricanes sit at 8-3-1, good for 17 pts and 2nd in the Metropolitan division. After an active offseason, there were many questions that needed answering and through 12 games, we have those answers, for better or worse. From new faces to old woes, let’s talk about some of the stories from an October to remember.
New Jerks making an Impact
For the first time in recent memory, the Hurricanes actually made a splash in the offseason. Carolina went beyond the Sebastian Aho offer sheet situation, bringing in some new faces in an attempt to solve their problems. At the end of last season, the Hurricanes had a cap hit of $63M, lowest in the league and $16M under the ceiling. After a busy offseason, the Canes have an $80M cap hit and are $1.3M under the ceiling. That may be the biggest indication that Dundon doesn’t run things like the old guard in Raleigh, and his investment is paying off on the ice, at least so far.
Erik Haula has been on a tear, showing no ill effects from his knee injury and showing promise of repeating the highs of his 2018 season. Ryan Dzingel is fifth on the team in points and has won 62% of his face-offs. Jake Gardiner has provided a strong defensive presence and Joel Edmundson has brought a physicality to the team that has been missing for a long time. So far, every move made over the offseason has made the team better.
Goaltending is Solid
Probably the biggest question going into the offseason was how the situation in net was going to shake out. Both goalies from last year were due to get paid, but unfortunately one could. The decision was made to stick with Petr Mrazek and Curtis McElhinney walked, eventually signing with Tampa. In comes the veteran James Reimer who ended up winning the backup role. How would Mrazek fare now that he was to be trusted as the true “No. 1”? So far the answer is superbly as he has posted strong starts in eight games for a 6-1-1 record and a 2.44 GAA. Reimer has also stepped up when needed, going 2-2-0 in four starts with a 2.67 GAA. This is a situation that will be interesting to follow as the season continues.
It is no secret that the power play was not the Canes strength last year. There is even an argument for it costing them the Conference Finals. in 2019, the Canes scored on 44 of their 247 power plays, a mere 18%. Over the offseason, The Hurricanes acquired Haula, who in his last full season had notched 12 power-play goals along with 17 at full strength. This acquisition has proved fruitful as Haula is currently fourth on the team in points and is leading the power-play unit with three goals on the man-advantage. The team as a whole has improved to a 23% success rate on the power play, scoring nine goals in 39 opportunities.
Dougie Leading the way
Dougie Hamilton appears to have found his niche here in Raleigh. The man who was moved all around the league and deemed a “locker room cancer” has become a fan favorite in Canes country and his play this year will surely cement that. Currently leading the team in both points and Ice-time, Dougie has been doing it all this year. He is also third on the team in blocked shots and is tied for the lead in +/-. If he continues at this pace, we may be looking at a career year for everybody’s favorite museum lover.
Svech is still really good at Hockey
Finally, this is your monthly reminder that Andrei Svechnikov is a really good at hockey. If you need proof here is what he did last game:
If scoring the first “Michigan” goal in NHL history wasn’t enough, he’s also second on the team with 12 pts on the season and has scored on 14% of his 35 shots on goal this season. He continues to use a special combination of speed, size, and skill that Carolina hasn’t seen in years. So far rumors of a sophomore slump have not come to fruition. the future is bright for this young star and it is going to be a joy to watch here in Raleigh.