First, to be clear, I am on board with the general direction of the team. The transition to youth will pay off even if it not immediately. And more significantly, I think the sheer volume of changeover including at least a few from the top half was necessary even if somewhat painful in terms of trying to get a reset on attitude.
So my aim is not to say that all is bad or that the team is headed in the wrong direction.
But that said, if I assess the summer, there are a handful of significant decisions that I would second guess.
1) The goaltending
The goaltending for 2018-19 is a dice role at best. Taking two goalies who ranked nowhere near league average in 2017-18 and hoping for significantly better could work. The position in general is fickle, and it is not at all uncommon for bad goalies to rebound and good goalies to swoon. But that said, if your starting point is two goalies who rate outside the top 30 in the league the previous year, you are playing long odds with your dice roll.
With three more years committed to Scott Darling at $4.15 million salary cap hit, there was no easy solution to the predicament, but I would have done more/tried harder to improve at the position. The current scenario is eerily reminiscent of the summer of 2016 when the Hurricanes exited the season with goaltending that was nowhere near good enough but decided to give it another try. Not surprisingly, goaltending was not good enough again the following season with the same players back.
Again, there was no magic elixir for this difficult situation, but I would have either thrown a bit more money and/or trade assets at the second slot that Mrazek occupies or I would have thrown money at buying out Scott Darling to free up another slot.
But the Hurricanes won the lottery balls in the spring, so just maybe the team wins the dice role at the goalie position for 2018-19 to build a positive new trend.
2) The coaching staff
I am on board with Rod Brind’Amour as the head coach. There is risk there, but I like the idea of following Peters with a coach whose strength should theoretically be motivating and getting the most out of players. But whereas the team did shake things up in terms of the roster, the same is not really true of the coaching staff. The team did add Dean Chynoweth from outside the organization, but with Brind’Amour in his first season as a head coach at any level, I would have preferred to have at least one coaching slot allocated to a gray beard of sorts with some head coaching experience at the NHL level. I voted for the same last summer, and think Bill Peters would have benefited from some help from an assistant who had been through the ups and downs of a long NHL season in the head coaching role.
But again, I think the single greatest thing the team needs to do is find the jolt that changes the culture and attitude, and Brind’Amour could be exactly the right coach to accomplish that.
3) One more veteran scorer
Though I was not happy with the return, I was okay with trading Jeff Skinner. I will not reshash the why here again. But I do think the team is a bit short on offensive fire power. Maybe more significantly, I think Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen will need a high-end third line mate to push much higher than they did in 2017-18. While I fully acknowledge that a player like Valentin Zykov or Andrei Svechnikov could become exactly that, I would have preferred that the team add one more proven scorer to round out that scoring line. Part of the need is scoring ability, but the other part that might be harder for someone like Zykov or Svechnikov in their rookie seasons is the every-game consistency to match up against the NHL’s elite shift in and shift out without lulls.
While the first two items are likely finalized for the start of the 2018-19 season, this one is still open. The possibility of Justin Faulk being traded for forward help is still out there.
What say you Canes fans?
1) Do you agree or disagree with the three things that I am second guessing this offseason?
2) Is there anything else that you would second guess from this offseason?
3) On a more positive note, what is the single move that you like the best from this offseason considering the volume of player, coaching and management changes?