Peters’ Golden Young Guns

Bill Peters, head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes, coached Team Canada to the gold medal in the recently concluded IIHF World Championship. Having returned from his trip to the Czech Republic and Russia, Peters met with the media on Wednesday, sporting gold and talking candidly about the future of his young Hurricanes squad. Peters said, “If you’re going to go that far, you might as well bring something home.”

On the overall experience of coaching Team Canada, Peters said, “We had a great experience over there. They put together a good young team It was a good experience all around.” It was good to see Peters celebrating the win.

‘Canes Future on World Stage

Peters said Noah Hanifin played well on the world stage (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)
Peters said Noah Hanifin played well on the world stage (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Peters was not the only piece of the ‘Canes future that was on the world stage. Coach had good things to say about Hurricanes and Team USA defenseman Noah Hanifin, saying he played with pace, looked really good on the ice and appeared very poised and confident.

Also, Hurricanes prospect Sebastian Aho received praise for his play. Peters said, “You’re definitely aware of him when he’s on the ice. I’d be shocked if he comes in and can’t make our hockey team. I don’t think there’s pressure on him; I think we’ll bring him in and if he makes our team — which we’d like to see happen — we’ll use him properly and surround him with good people and all the support he needs.”

Peters had particular praise for the Edmonton Oilers’ top overall draft pick last year, Connor McDavid. Peters said, “He’s a generational player. I thought he was solid, beyond good. He’s going to be special when it’s all said and done.”

Asked about the Hurricanes who were bypassed for the upcoming World Cup, notably Jordan Staal and Justin Faulk, Peters said,

“They’ll be driven if they felt snubbed. I’m sure they’ll use it as motivation.”

Peters will be reunited with his former Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock as an assistant to for Team Canada in the World Cup.

Peters Likes What he Sees

The Hurricanes are still going to be extremely young next season. The “young guns” as I glossed them a couple of years ago almost made the playoffs this year. Having a group that is buying into his system has Peters looking forward to the upcoming season. He told the gathered media,

“I’m excited about next year just due to the fact that we have a lot of things going in the right direction. I like our young guys we incorporated in our lineup last year. Just to me, everything’s going in the right direction.  Now it’s all about surrounding those guys with some quality acquisitions this summer and getting off to a good start.”

Peters noted the large number of picks the ‘Canes have in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft, and how it will be up to the general manager to “work his magic.” Peters said, “We’ve got really good assets. Whether we keep all those picks and draft players, I’m comfortable with that. Whether we package them up and move up in the draft that’s good, too. Or, trade them for players, whatever’s going to make us better.”

Aho is definitely on of those assets that should make an immediate impact on the team’s offensive production.

Many have observed that Carolina seriously needs offensive firepower to be competitive for a spot in the playoffs. Peters is no exception, saying, “We need some forwards. We need to score. We’ve played these low-scoring games, but we don’t want to be a low-scoring team. We want to play a puck possession style of hockey that’s exciting and rewarding for our fans who support us.”

Asked about what he’s noticed from the teams left in the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Pittsburgh Penguins and San Jose Sharks, Peters said that they are quick and big and that his ‘Canes need to get quicker. There is no question that quickness and size are two areas that Carolina will have to make progress in if they want to taste the playoffs. ‘Canes fans are hoping that Francis will work some magic and bring in players that fit that description.

On “Wardo”

Peters has no issue with goalie Cam Ward staying a Hurricane. Peters said, “I have confidence in ‘Wardo’ for sure. You look at his numbers from Dec. 10 on and they’re really, really good. (They’re) in the top probably five to seven in the National Hockey League in goals-against and save percentage.  Where we got ourselves in trouble and where ‘Wardo’ got himself in trouble individually statistically is the start. You’re always digging out from a poor start. You can’t have that again.”

Peters added that he feels that Ward wants to stay in Raleigh with the Hurricanes. Some fans think it’s time for Ward to move on, as it was also time for Eric Staal to move on when he was traded to the New York Rangers. The question I ask is whether or not Ward still has what it takes to get to and through a playoff run. If the ‘Canes can put together more offense and continue to grow on defense, then Ward may be the right choice.

Peters has a track record of winning. His success with Team Canada illustrates that he is the real deal.