Awaiting Canes’ Next Move
The Carolina Hurricanes, the young and slightly unpredictable team that few people had in the NHL playoff conversation to start the year, have gotten serious lately. They won seven of ten games going into the All-Star break, pushed themselves above the .500 mark, and are now in the thickest of a thick Eastern Conference playoff battle. But what does it mean going forward? That may all come down to general manager Ron Francis.
The Young and Old of It
As the trade deadline nears, Francis is one of those GMs left with deciding whether the “now” is more important than the future. Francis and coach Bill Peters have some good, younger players who making waves on the team. Defenseman Justin Faulk leads the team in points with 33, and winger Jeff Skinner is the team leader in goals with 18. Winger Andrej Nestrasil and center Joakim Nordstrom are also contributing to the Canes’ push. They’re part of the age 25 and under crew.
On the other hand, there’s a group of “elders” who still have some good ice time left, but have been mentioned as trade bait if the team wants to think further in the future. Among them are center Eric Staal and goalkeeper Cam Ward, two mainstays of the Hurricanes for better than a decade. Staal has 30 points this year, but isn’t as crucial to the team’s effectiveness, because of younger newcomers on the scene. Ward is coming off of a three-week absence because of a concussion, and was replaced admirably by Eddie Lack during his time away. Also mentioned in trade talk has been Kris Versteeg, the former Blackhawk, who has fit in nicely with 10 goals and 31 points while playing in a top-six role and being a key in power play situations.
Together, Canes a Good Bet
Trading off players such as these may strike fear and insecurity in the hearts of the Hurricanes faithful, because this team seems like a good combination of young and old talent that could make up a winning formula. After all, Francis remembers how he and a cadre of veterans led the Canes to a Cup in 2006.
In the next couple of weeks, if he reasons that the future is now, look for Carolina to continue its winning ways and make a drive to the playoffs. As far as betting goes, they should be well worth a look for the rest of February.
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