The Carolina Hurricanes came into the lockout shortened season after signing free agent Alexander Semin and trading their 8th pick in the 2012 draft, along with two players, for Jordan Staal. The offense was looking cocked and ready to go, and with veteran goalie Cam Ward in net, Carolina looked like a force to be reckoned with on paper.
However, the Hurricanes were unable to live up to their potential and expectations and finished the season sitting in 13th in the Eastern Conference with a sub-par record of 19-25-4. The offense hummed around the league average for goals, but the defense had a tough time helping Cam Ward out in net and ended up with the second most goals against in the league behind Florida. Carolina’s goal differential ended the season at a monstrous -32.
Carolina has issues right now, and it starts at the blue line. The Carolina Hurricanes defense hits only 14.6 million dollars on their cap, the second lowest in the Eastern Conference. Cam Ward’s cap hit of 6.3 million is larger than any defenseman on the team. So now I bring up the same issue that was on the daily poll a few days ago. Should teams pay for an elite goalie? Or should teams pay for an elite defender? Who would you rather have, Cam Ward or Zdeno Chara?
Carolina ended their season in disappointment but as it does every year, the off-season brings hope for change. If the Hurricanes could target and sign a solid defenseman it may change their fortune more than any offensive force like they were able to reel in last season.
Carolina has a good amount of free agents to take care of this season including defensemen Joe Corvo, Brett Bellemore, Marc-Andre Bergeron, Bobby Sanguinetti, among other young prospects. The Hurricanes need to solidify their defense and begin to look to the future in younger players.
Carefully choosing who to re-sign is key to the franchises success, and they need to clean up the third and fourth lines in the offensive end. Carolina has enough skill up front on the first two lines, but the depth isn’t their, and neither is the defense. It’s a work in progress, but it goes without saying that Cam Ward must be better for the Canes in the future. He’s the man they look to, and he’s the man they’re paying the big bucks.