Recent history has seen a number of players fairly high on the Hurricanes depth chart mostly fall after leaving the team. Players like Jiri Tlusty, Jay Harrison, Nathan Gerbe and others had played their way up to the middle of the Hurricanes lineup but then found themselves out of the NHL a couple years after leaving Raleigh.
But more recently, Eric Staal rebounded strongly in Minnesota, and Riley Nash (now in Columbus) carved out a nice role in Boston.
The 2018-19 season will be an interesting one in the sense that it will offer a number of opportunities to see how potentially higher-end players perform with a change of scenery and out of a Hurricanes uniform.
After many years as the #1 goalie for the Hurricanes and many years of sub-par statistics, Ward will play his first NHL in another uniform when steps onto the ice for the Chicago Blackhawks. Now 34 years old and in the twilight of his career, the 2018-19 season will not say much about Ward’s prime years, but it will still be interesting to see if he bounces up like Staal did.
In a Hurricanes uniform, Jeff Skinner fared well in terms of scoring but never really put things together on the defensive side of the puck. He scored but never really hit an elite level in terms of total point production. Was that because of his line mates and the team? Or was that simply an accurate measure of Skinner as a player. Playing in a contract year and possibly alongside Jack Eichel, I think Skinner represents the most intriguing transfer out. For me, I do not see either end of the spectrum as being out of play. Is Jeff Skinner capable of elite scoring and improved defensive play, and just needing a line mate like Eichel to get there? Or if Jeff Skinner just destined to be up and down defensively with good but not elite point production?
There is a good case to be made that Lindholm’s development was stunted by the Hurricanes rushing him to the NHL level. After working his way up to be a good middle six type forward, does he still have a higher gear offensively? Or is he just maxed out as a good but not great complementary player? Especially if he plays his way up to a line with Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau, Lindholm will have a prime opportunity to show if he can do more.
Somewhat similar to Lindholm, Noah Hanifin is a player with an incredibly high ceiling and draft pedigree. But also like Lindholm, Hanifin has yet to establish himself as a top 4 defenseman. Is Hanifin a player who is ready to put it all together and rise to a higher level? Or is he just what he has shown thus far and therefore destined to leave teams wanting more?
Cinderella story Derek Ryan played his way up to regular status for the 2017-18 season. The positive on Ryan is that he provided reasonably good depth scoring. The downside is that he did not do more than that, nor did he ever really mesh with Jeff Skinner. Like Hanifin and Lindholm, Ryan followed Bill Peters to Calgary. Does Ryan have a higher gear production-wise?
What say you Canes fans?
1) Which of these players is likely to most benefit from a change of scenery, play better than he did in a Hurricanes uniform and make the Hurricanes regret their departure?
2) Which of these players will perform either similarly or worse with their departure?