The NHL has greenlit a new divisional alignment for the upcoming 2021 season, putting the Columbus Blue Jackets in a Central Division with some new - and old - friends. In this series, we'll familiarize (or in some cases, refamiliarize) ourselves with the Central Division foes. Today, we're taking a look at the Carolina Hurricanes.
All-Time Regular Season Record vs. CAR: 41 GP, 21-17-3 (W-L-OTL)
All-Time Playoff Record vs. CAR: No postseason history.
Last Season vs. CAR: 3-0-0
Last Season Skinny
A year after being eliminated by the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Final, the Hurricanes were eliminated in the first round (after advancing in the Qualifying Round) by the... Boston Bruins.
The Hurricanes are led by a young cast of stars that include Sebastian Aho, Andrei Svechnikov, Dougie Hamilton, and Jaccob Slavin. Despite going 38-25-5, the Hurricanes had trouble defeating the Blue Jackets in 2019-20, dropping all three games by one goal.
It was a relatively quiet offseason for Carolina. Long-time captain Justin Williams retired, giving Jordan Staal the 'C'. Depth defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk left via free agency. And defenseman Sami Vatanen, who was acquired in a trade last season, remains unsigned and doesn't appear to be in the Hurricanes' future plans.
- Jesper Fast (Free agent, formerly with NYR)
- C Justin Williams (retirement)
- Trevor van Riemsdyk (Signed with WAS)
The Hurricanes should be in the mix atop the Central Division. They boast arguably the top defensive corps in the NHL, as Hamilton-Slavin rivals the Seth Jones-Zach Werenski top pair. After that, Brett Pesce, Jake Gardiner, Brady Skjei, and Haydn Fleury round out a solid top-six.
Offensively, the Hurricanes have some serious firepower. Their top line of Aho, Svechnikov, and Teuvo Teravainen is excellent, but their depth is what separates this team. Vincent Trocheck, Nino Niederreiter, Fast, Staal, Warren Foegele, Ryan Dzingel, and Martin Necas figure to provide enough offense to compensate for their average goaltending. Due respect to Petr Mrazek and James Reimer, the only thing potentially holding this team back from being a Stanley Cup favorite is the play between the pipes.
Like the Blue Jackets, the Hurricanes play a stifling brand of hockey that is predicated on a suffocating neutral zone forecheck. Unlike the Blue Jackets, the Hurricanes didn't struggle to score goals in 2019-20. This forward-thinking organization should once again be in the hunt for a playoff spot and could be in store for another deep playoff run.