I wrote a bit more about Memorial Day in yesterday’s Sunday Canes Chronicle article.
I would like to reiterate my closing for those who were away from CandC yesterday.
Thank you to all who have made the ultimate sacrifice protecting our country and freedom across the world. Thank you also to the many families who have felt the hardship of losing a loved one to this cause. And finally, thank you to all of the great men and women who have served in our armed forces past and present.
If you have not been following along, I have written articles highlighting Carolina Hurricanes’ impacts after each round of the 2017 NHL Playoffs.
The first round article on April 23 looked at draft pick impacts and the field of other young up and coming teams and also offered a summary look at players who might be available because of first round exits. I followed that up a day later with a deeper dive into the Montreal Canadiens’ wreckage and what the Hurricanes might be able to find in it.
The second round article on May 11 looked at a decent volume of players who could become available via trade based on second round exits.
With the conference finals wrapping up with Pittsburgh’s win on Thursday, here is a look at the latest round of Hurricanes’ angles on the playoffs.
Hurricanes’ ties are winning
With the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Finals set, there is a decidedly Hurricanes flavor in the management ranks. Peter Laviolette will lead his third team to the Stanley Cup Finals, and Jim Rutherford will be the general manager of his fourth Finals entrant and will look to capture his third Stanley Cup. In addition, Ron Hainsey has quickly climbed the ranking of playoff appearances starting at zero and now assured at least 23 games exiting the 2016-17 season even if the Finals are a sweep.
Getting into the playoffs gives you a chance
I think one of the most positive things from the playoffs is the reminder that once a team gets into the playoffs anything can happen. May offers an annual reminder that a playoff berth represents a reasonable chance to do magical things. The Nashville Predators have accomplished truly magical things already with more possibly in store despite starting from the bottom spot of the 16 playoff teams. The Ottawa Senators who also had a great run despite bowing out on Thursday also had a tremendous run from an also ran starting point in an Eastern Conference playoff bracket full of elite teams built to win now.
Hurricanes fans with a long history and great memory will remember that the hockey magic in Raleigh began in similar fashion from a humble starting point. The 2002 Hurricanes team that was slated to face the defending Stanley Cup Champion New Jersey Devils in the first round of the playoffs was nearly unanimously predicted to make a quick exit to its more experienced and theoretically better opponent. But when Kevin Weekes made what is in my opinion the greatest save in Hurricanes history, and Josef Vasicek followed it up with an over-time winner in game 5 of that first round series, the course of Hurricanes hockey history was changed forever. That game served as a launching pad to the Stanley Cup Finals that included Niclas Wallin’s overtime heroics, Jeff O’Neill’s black eye game, the Miracle at Molson, Francis’ overtime game-winner in Detroit, the three-overtime thriller in the first Stanley Cup Finals inaugural game in Raleigh and so much more. And somewhat like in Nashville right now, that is when NHL hockey at its maximum intensity and excitement arrived in Raleigh. The 2009 run ended a bit sooner but was similarly a tremendous testimony for ‘anything can happen’ in the NHL playoffs.
The reminder serves notice that if the 2017-18 Carolina Hurricanes can squeak into the playoffs by the narrowest of margins, the potential for absolute magic could very well sit immediately behind that accomplishment.
The Anaheim Ducks join the teams who will potentially deal to shake things up
The Anaheim Ducks join a group with an aging veteran core that is built to win the Cup now but just has not been able to get over the hump in recent years. Ryan Getzlaf, Cory Perry and Ryan Kesler are all 32 years old and committed for a few more years at roughly one-third of the Ducks’ salary cap maximum.
It is important to note that the Ducks have an interesting mix of a deep system with rising good young players such that ‘stay the course’ seems possible. But with the expansion draft looming and another disappointing playoffs short of a Finals appearance, the Ducks will to some degree join the ranks of other playoff exits. The list of veteran-based/win now teams who could go the ‘shake something up’ route now includes the Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers and Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference and the Chicago Blackhawks, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild and possibly St. Louis Blues and Anaheim Ducks in the Western Conference. All of these teams could become trade targets for Ron Francis as he looks to add a difference-maker or two to the Hurricanes’ lineup.
The Ducks are interesting because they also have expansion draft challenges that I touched on really briefly in yesterday’s Daily Cup of Joe article on that topic.
What say you Caniacs?
Which of the playoff disappointments has the greatest chance of yielding a trade opening for Ron Francis?
Are we all officially Nashville fans at this point with the only silver lining of a Penguins win being the Ron Hainsey story?