Carolina Hurricanes preview

Overview: I have to be honest here. I’ve never understood the big attraction to Cam Ward.

It seems as if every time I’m in a hockey pool where goalies are drafted, Ward goes very high. His numbers aren’t the greatest. I know he won a Cup and a Conn Smythe award because of it, but the league’s history books are littered with players that play well for a couple of months, and then go back to average.

But Ward is always seen as a top-five pick in these pools. And I don’t get it.

I think he’s a decent goalie, but if the Carolina Hurricanes want to be seen as a serious playoff team, they need to go with someone different in nets.

Best offseason move: Continuing with their youth movement. The Hurricanes are set for the future, and made a couple of shrewd moves this summer to help that along. First, they traded a couple of picks for Bobby Sanguinetti, an offensive defenceman, and a former first-round draft pick. He actually set a record in the AHL skills competition for fastest skater. They also gave up a fifth round pick for Jared Staal. So far, Staal’s older brothers have had pretty good careers. Eric and Jordan have won Stanley Cups, and Marc just signed a big contract with the Rangers. So if there’s ever a prospect you want to take a chance on, it’s Jared Staal.

Worst offseason move: Letting Ray Whitney walk. Maybe they didn’t really want to sign him, but with Rod Brind’Amour retiring, the Canes just lost a lot of leadership, a lot grit and strong defensive and offensive players. Going with the youth movement is great, but you still need those intangibles that only experienced players can bring.

Dark horse trophy candidate: Joni Pitkanen for the Norris.

Pool pick: Brandon Sutter. In his first full season last year, Sutter had 21 goals and 40 points. He should get better as he matures, and I could see him getting about 60 points this year. Who to stay away from: Jussi Jokinen. Jokinen has teased poolies for years, having good seasons (55 points as a rookie in 05-06), followed by years of bad seasons (27 points two years ago). Last year, he had 30 goals and 65 points, but don’t expect that continue. He’ll probably finish with about 40 points.

Sporcle quiz: Can you name the Carolina Hurricanes leaders in different categories?

Best hall of fame choice: Eric Staal. The young 25-year-old is already a member of the exclusive Triple Gold Club (winning gold at the Olympics, World Championships and a Stanley Cup. He’s scored 40 or more goals twice, had hit 100 points, is already the team’s all-time leader in playoff points and is captain of the Hurricanes. Even when he has a horrible start (like last year), his still manages to finish with 70 points. He’s a good threat for 500 goals, 1000 points and a hall of fame bid.

Blog to follow: Cardiac Cane

My Prediction: Fourth in the Northeast, 11th in the conference

Famous celebrity from that city: Liz Vassey

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