Blue Is The Colour Of The Cane Draft

Carolina Hurricanes – Blue Is The Colour Of The Cane Draft

The Carolina Hurricanes have never missed the playoffs in three consecutive seasons. In the 2001-02 season they lost in the Stanley Cup finals to the Detroit Red Wings. They missed the playoffs for the next two seasons. Right after the lockout, they won the Stanley Cup in the 2005-06 season. Once again they missed the playoffs for the next two seasons. In 2008-09, they made another deep run only losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Conference finals. And once again, they missed the playoffs for the next two seasons finishing ninth and two points out of a playoff spot last season. Are you as confused as the fans of the Hurricanes have been? Why the constant up and downs? Is it parity or is it just luck?

That’s leaves us the summer of 2011 and the Hurricanes are primed for another successful season and a long run deep into the playoffs. The organization is hoping that the changes they are undergoing kick starts the team and fortifies the Hurricanes as the ultimate do or die team. What response does every general manager and player always give when asked what team do you not want to play in the playoffs: the Carolina Hurricanes.

Paul Maurice returns as head coach but Hall of Fame player Ron Francis has given up his spot as on the Hurricanes’ bench as assistant coach to focus on his role as director of hockey operations. Tom Rowe has also been added to their pro scouting staff. The brass has also added former captain Rod Brind’Amour and former NHL head coach Dave Lewis to their coaching staff.

Lewis will be an assistant coach and work with the team’s defencemen while Brind’Amour will carry the titles of assistant coach and development coach. Brind’Amour, the captain of Carolina’s only Stanley Cup championship team in 2006, ended his two decade playing career last summer while Lewis coached the Detroit Red Wings from 2002-04 and the Boston Bruins in the 2006-07 season.

Last week the team signed veteran defenceman Jay Harrison and prospect Justin Shugg to contracts. Harrison signed for two years at $1.4 million while Shugg signed a three year entry level deal.

Last season, Harrison scored three goals and added seven assists for ten points in 72 games. The stay-at-home blue liner finished the year with a plus 5 rating.

Shugg, who was drafted in the fourth round last summer, set career highs with 41 goals and 46 assists for 87 points with the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors. He appeared in his third straight Memorial Cup, losing out in the final to the Saint John Sea Dogs. His first two appearances came with the Windsor Spitfires, winning the title in both years.

We and the entire NHL knows exactly what Jeff Skinner did last season in his rookie campaign. Yes, it would be asking a lot for any rookie this year to make that same impact but there will be some opportunities and roster spots available.

Eight regulars are free agents and with over 28 million in cap space, even before the announced increase, the Hurricanes have lots of room for maneuver. That room might also lead to a major over haul in the team with the likes of Erik Cole, Cory Stillman, and Chad Larose, just to name three, are UFAs.

Zac Dalpe, Zach Boychuk and Drayson Bowman, who have all had a taste of the NHL action while Riley Nash and Chris Terry might also factor in at some point. Dalpe, a centre, had 57 points in 61 games and Boychuk a left winger had 65 points in 60 games for Charlotte in the AHL. The Hurricanes’ organization is stacked with young, fast and highly skilled players and its Tony MacDonald’s job to continue to stockpile talent. Macdonald is the Director of Hurricanes amateur scouting.

“We probably interviewed 60 or more, and that doesn’t include the players that our scouting staff have met with previously. I would say that we have touched base with a total of 75-80 players over the course of the season.”

Carolina has the 12th overall selection in this years’ NHL entry draft. What kind of player can the Hurricanes’ faithful be expecting to get at the pick? If past results indicate anything, they can expect to pick up a very fine player: a defenceman. Over the past ten years some outstanding blue liners have been selected.

In 2010, Cam Fowler slid down to twelve where the Anaheim Ducks were happy to select the six foot one blue liner. Fowler came right into the lineup and scored 40 points in 76 games.

In 2009, the New York Islanders selected Calvin De Haan. Injuries have slowed the defencemen down a bit, but when you can generate a point a game in junior, there’s always a hope for you at the next level.

In 2008, Tyler Myers went to the Buffalo Sabres. All you need to know is that the Calder Cup sits on his mantle.

Montreal selected Ryan McDonagh in 2007 and it took a trade to the Rangers for McDonagh to finally make his mark but it seems he will be in the league for years to come.

And finally in 2005, the Rangers took Mark Staal who not only has lived up to the family name but has made a place for himself in the big apple. That year the Hurricanes selected another defenceman with the third overall pick: Jack Johnson. The Jack Johnson story is another discussion.

So as you can tell by my last few paragraphs. The Carolina Hurricanes will select a blue liner at twelve and coincidently this draft is defenceman heavy. If the Hurricanes get any of Nathan Beaulieu, Duncan Siemens, Jonas Brodin or Oscar Klefbom they will be satisfied. If Ryan Murphy or Dougie Hamilton fall to them at twelve they will be ecstatic.

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Shahab Khan the Schoolboy