“I really don’t think we’re that far away from being a Stanley Cup winner again. It’s not like we don’t have any star players or a good supporting cast. We have a great goalie. We have good forwards. We’ve strengthened our defense.”
If you think that quote came from a member of the Detroit Red Wings, think again. It was actually Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos Jr. in regards to how he thinks his team will favor in the upcoming 2011-12 season.
While it’s hard to picture Carolina as a Cup contender, the team did make several moves during the offseason to retool their lineup. Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford went out and inked defenseman Tomas Kaberle to a three-year, $12.75 million contract. The ‘Canes may have overpaid the veteran defenseman, but after helping the Bruins capture the Stanley Cup last season, Kaberle brings another veteran presence into the locker room. Rutherford was also able to nab forwards Alexei Ponikarovsky, Anthony Stewart and Tim Brent. He also added 34-year-old goaltender Brian Boucher to back up All-Star Cam Ward.
However, the Hurricanes also took a couple of substantial blows to their roster. They lost a bidding war for forward Erik Cole, who signed a four-year, $18 million deal with the Montreal Canadiens, and offensive blueliner Joe Corvo was dealt to the Bruins in exchange for a fourth-round pick in the 2012 Entry Draft. The loss of Cole and his 26 goals will hurt the ‘Canes on the offensive end, so Stewart, Calder Trophy winner Jeff Skinner and Jussi Jokinen will have to help out in that department.
Karmanos may have been correct in his assessment of his team, but truth of the matter is so many other teams in the Eastern Conference did more to bolster their lineups than the ‘Canes did this offseason. Even with the changes, along with arguably one of the greatest captains in the game in Eric Staal, does Carolina have enough to get back into the playoffs this season?