The decade of the 2010s is now in the rearview mirror, which makes it a good time to reflect on some of the players who have recently come and gone through the Carolina Hurricanes organization. With the exception of the 2018-19 season, the 2010s were not particularly memorable, but there were plenty of players who made a positive impact during their time in Carolina.
Instead of big-name players like Eric Staal, Jeff Skinner and Justin Faulk, who are all still relevant, this list will include some of the guys whose names you may not have heard in several years.
Jussi Jokinen was famous for playing for nine different teams in his 13-year NHL career, but he also had a reputation for being a shootout savant, and was at the top of the NHL record books in its first few years with his often dazzling moves.
Only eight players have suited up for more teams than Jokinen did, but the best season of his career was with the Hurricanes, with whom he spent the most time. He tallied a career-high 30 goals and 65 points with the ‘Canes in 2009-10, his second of five seasons with the club.
After the 2017-18 season, in which he was traded four times, Jokinen left to play in Europe, and has continued his career in his home country with Karpat of the Finnish Elite League. The 38-year-old winger is still a steady contributor who brings a wealth of experience to Karpat’s youngsters – one of whom includes 19-year-old forward Tuukka Tieksola, a 2019 Hurricanes draft pick.
Alexander Semin had an interesting story arc in his NHL career, one of a dangerous marksman who exploded onto the scene in 2006-07 with the Washington Capitals but fizzled under criticisms of his effort near the end of his NHL career. Semin spent seven seasons with the Capitals, enjoying three seasons of 70-plus points – including 40 goals in 2009-10 – often playing on a deadly line with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom.
The Hurricanes signed him as a free agent to a one-year contract in July 2012, and he produced at a point-per-game pace in the lockout-shortened season. After just 30 games in a Carolina jersey, the Hurricanes signed him to a lengthy five-year extension. For the first time in his career, Semin had a long-term contract, and it didn’t take long for bad habits to form. In his third season with the Hurricanes, he tallied just six goals in 57 games, and his contract was bought out.
After a brief stint with the Montreal Canadiens in 2015-16, Semin again had his contract terminated after he tallied one goal and three assists in 15 games. He made the decision to return home to Russia where he still plays in the KHL. In the past three seasons with Podolsk Vityaz, the 37-year-old winger has collected 98 points in 144 games. The Hurricanes have felt the lingering effects of the Semin buyout, however. His $2.33-million cap penalty has punished the Hurricanes through the years, but it will finally come off the books next season.
A 13th-overall pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2006, Jiri Tlusty spent much of his career trying to solidify his position in the NHL as he battled through numerous injuries. He enjoyed a breakout season playing alongside Semin and Eric Staal in the shortened 2012-13 season with the Hurricanes, scoring 23 goals and 38 points in 48 games. Their line was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise miserable season – Carolina finished with its second-lowest points percentage of the past 16 seasons.
Tlusty signed with the New Jersey Devils in the 2015 offseason, but injuries limited him to four points in 30 games. Even when he transferred to the Karpat in Finland, he continued to be held back by health issues – most notably wrist problems – and was released after 14 games in the 2016-17 season.
On June 7, 2018, Tlusty announced his retirement from professional hockey at the age of 30. He ended his career with 89 goals and 88 assists in 446 games. He has since stayed out of the spotlight, but according to his Instagram page, he recently became a father to a new baby girl.
Known for being one of the league’s more interesting Twitter personalities, goaltender Eddie Lack lent his services to the Hurricanes for two seasons from 2015 to 2017, appearing in 53 games as a backup behind Cam Ward. He posted a combined record of 20-21-9 with the ‘Canes before being shipped off to the Calgary Flames after Carolina penned free agent goalie Scott Darling to a four-year contract.
Since being dispatched from the Hurricanes two years ago, Lack only appeared in eight more NHL games, as he dealt with multiple injuries, most notably concussions and a persistent hip problem.
In August of 2019, the 31-year-old Lack announced he’d be taking a break from hockey to continue his rehabilitation. During that time, he became a goalie coach at Arizona State University. Eventually, in March of 2020, Lack announced his retirement after an NHL career spanning 144 games.
Darling signed with the Hurricanes in May 2017, after then-general manager Ron Francis acquired him from the Chicago Blackhawks. He was coming off a strong 18-5-5 season, sporting a .924 save percentage (SV%) and 2.38 goals-against average (GAA). Unfortunately, that success didn’t translate to his first season with the Hurricanes, as he stumbled to a 13-21-7 record, posting a .888 SV% and 3.18 GAA.
On Feb. 10, 2019, Darling took a leave of absence from the team as he dealt with personal struggles. Carolina eventually traded him to the Florida Panthers in June 2019, where the Panthers bought out the remainder of his $16.6-million contract. Darling played a year overseas in Austria the following year, before returning to North American hockey in 2021. He signed a professional tryout contract (PTO) with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs, but was released after one game. He is currently a free agent.
Patrick Dwyer is the longest tenured Hurricane on this list – with 416 games over seven seasons from 2008 to 2015, he is one of the more recognizable ‘Canes of the decade, despite his minor role with the team. As a bottom-six winger, Dwyer wasn’t a huge impact player, but played his part well and made a home with the Hurricanes.
Following his departure from the NHL in 2015, he suited up for MODO of the SHL, the Charlotte Checkers in the AHL, as well as professional teams in Denmark and the UK. He retired in the summer of 2019 and took a job as an assistant coach for the Checkers, and now, the Chicago Wolves, where he lends his knowledge developing the Hurricanes’ future stars.
One of the first things you notice watching Nathan Gerbe is his 5-foot-4 frame, but his speed, grit and nifty hands makes him difficult to defend.
Now 33 years old, Gerbe has played most of the past four seasons with the Cleveland Monsters, the AHL affiliate of the Columbus Blue Jackets, serving as captain in 2018-19. In the 2020-21 season, he spent about half the season in Cleveland, and the other half playing back with the big boys in Columbus.
Gerbe has had a respectable career, scoring 58 goals and 138 assists in 396 NHL games. He played three seasons with the Hurricanes from 2013 to 2016 after he was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres organization in 2005.
Matt Cosman is a Sheridan College print journalism graduate from Oakville, Ontario. I’ve been with THW since 2019 covering the Carolina Hurricanes, one of my favorite childhood teams. When I’m not in my hockey bubble you can probably catch me jamming out on the piano or losing money at the poker tables.