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Friday August 12, 2011 7:16 am

Carolina Hurricanes tweak roster hoping to get back to playoffs




Posted by Adrien Griffin Categories: Athletes, NHL

Eric StaalThe Carolina Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup in 2006. Since then, it’s been almost exclusive misery for the fans and team in Raleigh. The Hurricanes have failed to make the playoffs in four of the past five seasons. In that fifth season, they finished sixth and won two seven-game series before bowing out of the Conference Final in four games. This season, Carolina hopes that a few roster tweaks will mean the difference between a playoff berth and early tee times on the golf courses.

 

Eric Cole was one of Carolina’s top offensive producers in 2010-11, scoring 26 goals and adding 26 helpers. However, he became a free agent and Carolina lost the bidding war to Montreal, who signed Cole to a four-year, $18 million contract. Defensemen Joe Corvo and Bryan Rodney are also gone. Corvo was traded to the Boston Bruins in return for a fourth-round pick in next summer’s NHL Entry Draft.

The Hurricanes have replaced those vacancies with forwards Tim Brent, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Anthony Stewart and defenseman Tomas Kaberle. Kaberle was an interesting sign. After a rather poor year split between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston, the announcement that Carolina signed him to a three-year, $12.75 million deal shocked some people, thinking the ‘Canes overpaid. The team will look to Kaberle to solidify the special teams. Meanwhile, Stewart had 15 goals and 24 assists with the Atlanta Thrashers last season, Brent had eight goals and 12 assists with Toronto, and Ponikarovsky had five goals and 10 assists with Los Angeles.

While missing the playoffs in four out of five years sounds bad, the Hurricanes have actually finished with an average of 89.6 points in those seasons, while it’s taken an average of 92 points to get into the playoffs. It appears things might not be as off-track as they seem. And with the reigning NHL Rookie of the Year in Jeff Skinner ready for his sophomore season and team captain Eric Staal on the roster, 2011-12 might see the Hurricanes return to the Stanley Cup-contending form they had half a decade ago.

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