In a rare busy week for the Carolina Hurricanes late in the sweltering North Carolina summer, a couple big announcements came that will be at the forefront during the 2022-23 season (and beyond). The team has settled on a replacement for their now-departed assistant leader at the American Hockey League (AHL) level, Ryan Warsofsky, who is now an assistant with the San Jose Sharks. Elsewhere, the organization has a top prospect that won’t be seen stateside as soon as hoped, and some sweater news that has been met with a mixed reaction throughout the league.
All that and more will be covered in this week’s News & Rumors. Additionally, although the signing of Paul Statsny is notably absent here, a more detailed piece will be coming on the Hurricanes’ savvy late-summer addition — be sure to check back soon!
Hurricanes to Introduce New Threads, Feature Fan-Favorite in 2022-23
In a move that probably wasn’t particularly surprising after the team donned them in all their home games during the 2022 postseason, it was made official by the Hurricanes that the team will now ditch their red home jerseys for 2022-23. In their place as the primary sweaters on home ice at PNC Arena will be the black former-alternates, for at least the next season. This was mostly met with positive feedback amongst Hurricanes fans, although some other league-wide onlookers voiced their displeasure because of their apparent lack of appeal on TV (or generally from a distance).
Red and black isn’t a particularly uncommon theme for jerseys in hockey — or any pro sport, for that matter — but it’s about time for a new take on a very similar theme the team has carried for several years now. While this doesn’t bring a new jersey into the fray, it does open the possibility to take an alternate in a new direction, even if it sports those familiar colors.
The team is also rumored to have a new design in the works for Whalers Night, as well as the customary special jersey design for the upcoming outdoor game at Carter-Finley Stadium Stadium Series against the Washington Capitals. Owner Tom Dundon has spoken before about keeping jerseys fresh and designing new ones more frequently than past iterations of the team did, and it will be exciting to see what new designs the team unveils this season.
Nikishin Re-Signs in the KHL
In less exciting news for Hurricanes fans, a disappointing story broke for the team on Friday. Top defensive prospect Alexander Nikishin has extended his contract with SKA of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). The deal will keep the bruising, 6-foot-4 defenseman in his native Russia until the end of the 2024-25 season at least.
Nikishin is a big, mobile, and physical defenseman who is a tantalizing mixture of a modern defenseman with a booming shot, and a throwback defender that reigned supreme in the 1990s. He is capable of both leading a dangerous rush and plastering an oncoming forward through the end boards. With the fragile relations between the United States and Russia, both hockey-wise and politically, this was always a worry, but this isn’t the end of the world, especially considering how many contracts the Hurricanes have expiring over the next few seasons (all of the defensemen currently on the roster will need new deals by then). This could work out for the team, as he continues developing in a tough league the next few years. If he isn’t NHL-ready now, he certainly will be then, and could easily step into a top-four role immediately in 2025.
Hurricanes Hire Brock Sheahan as AHL Bench Boss
An underrated role the Hurricanes were tasked with filling was their head coach at the AHL level, and they’ve tabbed their man as the offseason winds down: former Chicago Steel head coach Brock Sheahan. The new hire had a phenomenal stint in the United States Hockey League (USHL), serving as the Steel head coach for nearly three years and compiling a record of 108-30-12-3 in the process. Per my good friend (and podcast co-host) Matthew Somma, during that short stint he still coached a whopping 20 NHL draft picks.
Luckily for Sheahan (cousin of 10-year NHL veteran Riley Sheahan), he won’t have to go far to coach his new team, the Chicago Wolves. It’s going to make for an interesting dynamic at that level, with a team full of fresh faces coming off a Calder Cup win. It was already going to be a youth movement down on the farm, with much of their leadership core of AHL veterans signing elsewhere over the summer, and rising prospects such as Noel Gunler, Vasili Ponomarev, and Jamieson Rees expected to take on bigger roles for the team. Now, their new, 38-year-old head coach is going to be learning on the fly with them.
The hire of Warsofsky was once seen as a tough gig, having to replace another excellent AHL head coach in Mike Vellucci, but the likely future NHL head coach did nothing but improve the team from the Charlotte Checkers days to his Wolves championship-winning exploits. As an organization, when it comes to evaluating talent at the minor-league level, the Hurricanes have proven one of the best, whether that be players or coaches. When taking his track record with the Steel into consideration, it’d be unsurprising to see a similar level of success for Sheahan.