Hurricanes News & Rumors: Jerseys, Injuries, & Trade Targets

After an impressive 3-2 overtime win against the Dallas Stars, the Carolina Hurricanes just keep on trucking ahead. Things have gotten rocky at times in recent weeks for the Hurricanes, between slumps, injuries, and tough matchups, but the team continues finding ways to bank points and grind out wins.

In today’s News & Rumors, we’ll talk about some of those injuries, as well as the long-awaited reveal of the special sweaters for the upcoming Stadium Series game. Lastly, we’ll touch on some of the recent trade rumors and why you shouldn’t hold your breath for a deal to happen until (much) closer to the March 3 trade deadline.

Injuries Beginning to Pile Up

While everyone’s attention was understandably on Max Pacioretty’s second Achilles rupture in the waning moments of the Hurricanes’ 5-2 win over the Minnesota Wild, it was easy to overlook the absence of No. 1 defenseman Jaccob Slavin in the closing moments of the game. The alternate captain was not on the ice for nearly the last half of that third period, and few people seemed to notice until he was not in his usual spot giving fist bumps to each player by the tunnel entrance at the end of the game.

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The good news is head coach Rod Brind’Amour’s recent comments seem to allude the injury is relatively minor. Per Luke DeCock of the News & Observer, Brind’Amour said regarding Slavin: “I don’t think he felt 100 percent after the game. So we gave him a little time today” (from ‘Hurricanes’ Pacioretty injury: Torn Achilles, out for season,’ The News & Observer, Jan. 21, 2023). Slavin was held out in the Stars and New York Islanders games, but considering the Brind’Amour later said “a little nicked up,” it doesn’t seem that the Hurricanes’ star blueliner will be out much longer.

Unfortunately, in the team’s win over the Stars, the Hurricanes lost yet another important piece to the puzzle when starting goaltender Frederik Andersen went down. The veteran netminder had been great since returning from a two-month absence, but for about the fourth time this year, the Hurricanes are left wondering what’s going to happen moving forward at the position.

On the bright side, general manager Don Waddell reportedly said Andersen is “fine” after the game (from ‘Hurricanes goalie Andersen left Stars game with injury. GM said Thursday, ‘he’s fine,’ The News & Observer, Jan. 26, 2023), so hopefully his removal was just precautionary. It was also a chance for Antti Raanta, who hadn’t seen action in over two weeks, to get some playing time. He saved all 15 shots he faced and got the win.

If Andersen does miss time, rookie Pyotr Kochetkov is obviously a quick call away and will make a return from his brief vacation with the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League (AHL). He won his first two appearances on the farm before allowing five goals in their loss to the Tucson Roadrunners on Wednesday evening. Take any loss for that team with a grain of salt, though; the Wolves, and their defense especially, have struggled mightily this season.

Related: 3 Under-the-Radar Hurricanes Who’ve Been Having an Impact

This does bring interesting discussions to the table as the trade deadline draws nearer. Andersen has fallen a bit short in the reliability department since the end of last season, but in-season goalie trades are rare. The team will have to determine if he can be counted on down the stretch, although the current answer to that doesn’t seem clear. Still, Kochetkov and Raanta have both shown their capability, so the Hurricanes will likely roll with what they have if Andersen does miss more time. The big question ahead of the deadline remains if they make a move to replace Pacioretty.

Horvat Likely Off the Table?

In a recent edition of Insider Trading, TSN’s Pierre Lebrun reported that the Hurricanes had shown interest in pending unrestricted free agent Bo Horvat, but that a deal between the two sides was beginning to look unlikely for now. The Canucks’ desire to acquire a young, controlled center has been part of the rumors from their end for a while now, and, apparently, their determination to receive Martin Necas in the return was a deal breaker.

Trading their top scorer would obviously be a lateral move, so it makes sense for the Hurricanes to walk away from that deal. Incidentally, with the deadline still weeks away, the Canucks can afford to over-extend a bit in hopes they get a bite for above-market value. They have no reason to trade Horvat right this second, so they may as well hold out and see if some team — of which there are supposedly many interested — will up the ante first.

Paul Stastny Carolina Hurricanes
Paul Stastny, Carolina Hurricanes (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

A second-line center still seems like the top priority for the Hurricanes, nonetheless. Paul Stastny’s recent struggles spilling over and affecting winger Andrei Svechnikov and, to a lesser degree, Necas, is a growing concern. This roster doesn’t have many holes, but that’s the one that definitely needs to be figured out between now and the deadline — whether the solution is internal (Jesperi Kotkaniemi, maybe?) or a trade target like Dylan Larkin.

Beyond that, the only other real potential target is likely a depth defenseman, a player that can rotate in and out as a 6th/7th defender. They need a more suitable player to replace Dylan Coghlan, who has struggled mightily since being acquired (and yes, I’m the one who wrote this; can’t win ’em all). Odds are the market is just too pricy right now, and the Hurricanes have proved time and time again they won’t exceed assistant general manager Eric Tulsky and company’s valuations. Plus, they keep winning despite all the injuries, so the urgency to make a move is minimal right now.

Hurricanes Stadium Series Jersey Revealed

Lastly, with just about three weeks before the puck will drop Stadium Series showdown, the NHL finally revealed the 2023 Stadium Series sweaters for the Hurricanes and Washington Capitals. The two sweaters will be seen on Feb. 18 at North Carolina State Wolfpack’s Carter-Finley Stadium, just across the parking lot from the ‘Canes usual home base, PNC Arena.

The initial leaks (and even the photo of the sweater by itself) were quite underwhelming, but when seen in the video above with the full uniform, the look is actually pretty slick. The Wolfpack have proven that the red and black can pop under those stadium lights, and the large details on the helmet with the numbers and Hurricanes logo on each opposite side are a unique touch. Otherwise, it’s a pretty basic red and black design, but the color variations of the logo itself give it a somewhat photonegative look, which provides a little spice and differentiates itself from the usual black sweaters the team wears.

Many Hurricanes fans and national media were critical of what some deemed a “boring and basic” design, but, hey, it could be worse. I’m not an art or jersey critic by any means, but I’ll give it a 7/10 for now, subject to change when we actually see them in action. We’re less than a month away from that, and exciting times sit directly ahead with that game, the All-Star festivities, and the trade deadline all on the horizon. Buckle up, because the home stretch will come and go quicker than we realize — just like it always does.

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