The Carolina Hurricanes have been one of the main teams mentioned over the past week when it comes to 2023 NHL Trade Deadline rumors and discussions. This is in large part due to the season-ending Achilles injury Max Pacioretty suffered on Jan. 19. Pacioretty joined the Hurricanes in the offseason while in the midst of recovering from an Achilles tear suffered last season. He appeared in five games for Carolina scoring three goals in his limited action before the injury. The Hurricanes haven’t missed a beat since the loss of the 34-year-old forward, winning five straight including a dominant 4-1 win over the Boston Bruins on Jan. 29 in a matchup of the top two teams in the NHL.
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I believe the Hurricanes’ performance since losing Pacioretty has proved that their current roster is strong enough to be the last team standing in 2023. General manager Don Waddell has to weigh the pros and cons of moving pieces to add a strong offensive piece at the trade deadline. Let’s take a look at a few reasons why the Hurricanes should strongly consider keeping their current roster intact.
Top Team Without Pacioretty
Despite the boost Pacioretty appeared to give the Hurricanes when he finally got into the lineup, it’s no secret that they have been a top contender this season without him. They gained control of the Metropolitan Division before he made his first appearance for the team in early January, and they’re in the midst of a five-game winning streak that began the night he went down with the injury. I believe altering the roster that has produced these kinds of results could be a potentially massive mistake by the Hurricanes’ front office.
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If the Hurricanes were in the middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference and appeared to need a serious burst to make a run at contention, I believe a move would be in order. However, they currently sit atop the Metropolitan Division and have the second-best record in the NHL.
Forward Depth is Strong
Thankfully for the Hurricanes, they have one of the deepest forward groups in the NHL that allows them to continue rolling when a member of their top-six goes down with an injury. Sebastian Aho, Martin Necas, and Andrei Svechnikov lead the talented group of forwards that are currently calling Raleigh home. The third line, which consists of Jordan Martinook, Jordan Staal, and Jesper Fast, is arguably the Canes’ most complete line. You would be hard-pressed to find a better trio across the league with similar production.
Jesperi Kotkaniemi continues to underperform at the 2C position for Carolina. In a perfect world, they could swap him for a productive centerman that another team is looking to move; however, he has lost some value over the past couple of years and most teams would probably be looking for additional pieces to make that trade work.
Bruins Are Human
While it’s probably not best to decide on personnel moves based on the short-term success or lack of success of other contending teams, seeing the Bruins come back down to earth as of late has to be a relief to other contenders around the league. It’s also no secret that the Hurricanes have had the Bruins’ number in recent memory, sweeping the three-game series last regular season before defeating them in seven games in the first round of the playoffs. This dominance continued on Jan. 29 with the Hurricanes’ 4-1 victory over a reeling Bruins squad.
I’m sure this result helped establish even more confidence within head coach Rod Brind’Amour’s group as they attempt to make a run for the first seed currently held by the Bruins. They are nine points behind with the All-Star Break on the horizon, so it would take a valiant effort from the Hurricanes to chase them down. We saw last season how big home-ice advantage is, with Carolina failing to win a road game in the playoffs.
Regardless of what Don Waddell and company decide to do, I believe this team will be a contender down the stretch. It will be interesting to see how the situation develops as the trade deadline continues to move closer.