Carolina Hurricanes Family Reunion?

Is it time for a Carolina Hurricanes family reunion?  The team is starting to look strikingly familiar to teams we have seen in the past.  Most recently, the ‘Canes announced that forward and former Hurricane, Chad LaRose had been invited to training camp.

LaRose took last year off, cleared his head, and is now ready to “be a contributor.”  LaRose and Tim Gleason, were a part of the team over the past few years with Eric Staal, Cam Ward, and Jiri Tlusty to name a few.  Coach Peters seems to like Larose, is calling him “Rosie,” and thinks highly of his game.

One of the characteristics of the Hurricanes that has baffled fans over the past few years is the tendency to stay attached to current and former players.  I’m not saying this is good or bad, but it is interesting if not befuddling.  ‘Canes fans often wonder aloud why the team does not go after a player with “star power” to bolster their chances of making the playoffs.  The most likely answer is a lack of affordable and available free agents from which to select to try to bring to Carolina.  In all likelihood, it really boils down to money, as owner Peter Karmanos has not been one to give management blank checks with which to try to lure top talent.

The Hurricanes Have Trimmed Their Roster

As the regular season approaches, the ‘Canes announced over the weekend that they have trimmed their training camp roster down to 36, including LaRose.  (See the updated roster here).  Included in the trimming was winger Jared Staal, who at 6’4″ and 210 lbs fits the larger size look that this team is trending toward.  But, the younger Staal has just not been able to break into the NHL and while requiring waivers, will likely once again be looking to hone his skills in Charlotte.

Notable inclusions on the roster at this stage of the preseason include Haydn Fleury, Zach Boychuk (who I really like), Victor Rask, and 2007 5th round pick Chris Terry.

At 25, Terry should be coming of age, and notched 28 goals and 41 assists last season with Charlotte. He has 1 goal in 13 games over the last 2 seasons in appearances with the Hurricanes which shows that he can find the net.  Can he find it at the next level?  Will he be given a shot?  We will know this week as Coach Peters has said that by the ‘Canes’ next home preseason game on Friday, October 3rd, he wants to have a lineup closely resembling the lineup for opening night.

Missing from the family reunion are Manny Malhotra, Justin Peters – who I thought did very well when thrust in between the pipes during injuries to Cam Ward and Anton Khudobin – Tuomo Ruutu and Drayson Bowman.  My personal favorite missing member of the family is Jussi Jokinen, traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2013.  He could not excel in Kirk Muller’s system, got traded and went out last season and had 21 goals.  (Remember his hat-trick versus the ‘Canes his first time on the ice as a Penguin?)  I wonder if he would like to return to the table in Raleigh?  Oh wait, he’s a Florida Panther now.  Is that closer to Raleigh than Pittsburgh?  If we’re bringing guys back…

When the trimming is done, will the team look more a Carolina Hurricanes Family Reunion, or a team looking to the future?

Will Chad LaRose be on the roster?  Will Tim Gleason crack the top four or be fighting for a spot with guys like Ryan Murphy and John-Michael Liles?  Who will take Jordan Staal’s place at center?  Will Victor Rask make the cut or will Brad Malone step in with his experience to fill the void?  With the regular season opening night only 12 days away, there are still a myriad of questions that coach Peters has to answer.

Tomorrow night versus the St. Louis Blues we are likely to see a more NHL laden group, with Eric Staal slated to play after having sat out the first 3 preseason games as a precaution.  Alexander Semin should see the ice, also.  In addition, Haydn Fleury is still being looked at, along with Rask and a few other of the younger players.

(James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports)
(James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports)

Of interest will be who is in-goal, technically it is Cam Ward’s turn.  All eyes will be on him as he fights for the position of “stud” as Coach Peters has described what will be his starting goalie.  All in all, when the trimming is done, the team will probably have the earmarks of a Carolina Hurricanes Family Reunion, with a few young cousins we’re just getting to know.  Should be an interesting year.