The Carolina Hurricanes have their work cut out for them, but general manager Don Waddell is more than ready to make moves.
Waddell confirmed some of his club’s issues on NHL Network Sirius XM radio Wednesday and one concern seemed to bounce to the top of the list: goaltending.
The Hurricanes haven’t made the playoffs since 2009 and went 36-35-11 this season, good for sixth in the Metropolitan Division. That put them well out of the post-season. Again.
The club shuffled the deck as a result, with Rod Brind’Amour named the new head coach and Waddell confirmed as general manager.
Carolina’s goaltending left a lot to be desired this season, with Scott Darling not exactly thriving in his first full year as starter. The ‘Canes picked him up in April of 2017 in exchange for a third-round draft pick and promptly inked him to a four-year deal worth $16.6 million.
That deal was one of those Ron Francis numbers, which may help explain why he’s not the GM in Raleigh anymore.
Darling was pretty much a bust, going 13-21-7 with a 3.18 goals against average and a .888 save percentage. Those aren’t palatable numbers for a starting netminder in today’s NHL, especially given his price tag. There was also some talk about his conditioning when he arrived at training camp, which is never a good sign.
Cam Ward, by the way, will be an unrestricted free agent.
The Hurricanes may not be ready to give up on Darling just yet, but Waddell is in the market to get him some help and that could mean putting some serious change on the block. That’s pushed names like Justin Faulk and Jeff Skinner to the front of the line.
“[Skinner and Faulk] are guys certainly that people have called about,” said Waddell. “I talked to almost every general manager, that we’re looking to make some changes, so certainly when other teams are calling, they usually want to call about your better players. So, we’re in discussions with not only those players, but multiple players.”
The return on Skinner and/or Faulk could be significant and that means the Hurricanes could have an answer to their goaltending woes in the near future.
The Hurricanes will be busy leading up to the draft, with Waddell and Co. ready to prove that Tom Dundon’s faith in the organization is not misplaced. They’ve got an uphill climb ahead of them, but Carolina does have some unique pieces to offer if the market is right.