The Carolina Hurricanes made two moves ahead of Friday’s trade deadline, but were still relatively quiet compared to other teams around the East.
The Hurricanes did add Jesse Puljujarvi from the Edmonton Oilers, along with Shayne Gostisbehere from the Arizona Coyotes. At the same time, the New Jersey Devils got Timo Meier, both Patrick Kane and Vladimir Tarasenko went to the New York Rangers, while the Boston Bruins added Dmitry Orlov and Tyler Bertuzzi, and the Toronto Maple Leafs brought in Ryan O’Reilly and Jake McCabe. As a result, Carolina’s moves pale in comparison to other teams in the conference.
That said, it’s pretty difficult to look at the way the Hurricanes have been playing and say they need to make any changes. They’ve gone 31-6-4 over their last 41 games. Just this weekend, they rolled to a 6-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Friday, then gave up a total of four shots through the first two periods of a dominant 6-0 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning today. All signs point to the fact the Hurricanes are already true contenders.
Of their two additions, Shayne Gostisbehere also already has a goal in each of his two games with the Hurricanes. We knew the team may look for an upgrade over Calvin de Haan on the left side of their bottom pairing, and Gostisbehere is going to provide a lot of offense in a sheltered role.
The addition of Puljujarvi came as a bit more of a surprise, given he doesn’t fill a clear need. He hasn’t played yet for the Hurricanes as a result of visa issues, but it’s still a low-risk, high-reward move.
Looking at Carolina’s forward group though, they still arguably lack one or even two legitimate top-six forwards. Their clear area of need was a second-line center, given they really haven’t had a true 2C since Vincent Trocheck left. You could also say that after Max Pacioretty’s injury, they could’ve used a top-six winger as well. While Jesperi Kotkaniemi has been much better over the last couple months (and had a huge impact in today’s win) and Seth Jarvis has an extremely bright future, it’s debatable as to whether either forward is an ideal fit in the top-six for a contending team.
You never want to make a move without purpose and Don Waddell’s strategy of not throwing away assets for rentals will help the team in the long run. That said, we’ve seen the team can struggle to finish at times and have sometimes heavily relied on a few top forwards for the bulk of their offense.
The Hurricanes clearly believe in their group as is, and given their recent success, it’s hard to argue against that. If this team gets deep into the playoffs and has a shot at a Stanley Cup, then fair enough.
At the same time, we can still point to an area where the Hurricanes could've aimed to get better. Pacioretty would've been great on the wing, but then went down with an injury. We knew the Hurricanes were also one of the teams interested in adding Timo Meier, but obviously didn't get it done. They're going to be facing some very good teams in an attempt to make it out of the East and if they suffer another premature playoff exit, we may be looking back with a bit more skepticism, wondering why Carolina didn’t do what it would take to improve in their top-six.
The Hurricanes are one of the top teams in the NHL and look poised to make some noise in the playoffs. Despite how well this team has been playing though, you have to wonder whether not pulling the trigger on a bigger move right now was the right call.