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Have the Carolina Hurricanes Finally Solved Their Post-Season Problems?

Credit: Karl B. DeBlaker/AP


The Carolina Hurricanes have been one of the most dominant teams across the entire NHL for the regular season, but despite that annual success, they tend to fall victim to the same issue every year: playoff inconsistency. However, with the moves they made before this year’s trade deadline, they could be well on their way to winning their second Stanley Cup in franchise history. 


The Hurricanes have reached the playoffs for the last five NHL seasons on the back of elite defensive play and offensive dominance from their star players like Sebastian Aho, Seth Jarvis, and Martin Necas. They are easily one of the most consistent teams in the league which is evident from their 226-107 win/loss record over the past five seasons. 


However, whenever they reach the playoffs and face a team that’s as good if not better than them, they suddenly seem to crumble under the pressure and lose that regular season spark they have. In the past five years, they’ve lost in the first round once, the second round twice, and have been swept 4-0 in the Conference Finals twice. 


Hurricanes fans have been begging for something to change, as it was evident that come playoff time the same formula each year failed to produce any spectacular moments. However, to the Hurricanes fans’ delight, this year the organization has finally brought in some big-time players who are sure to inject some much-needed energy into this current Hurricanes squad


The NHL’s annual trade deadline fell on March 8 this year, which was all-around quite a lacklustre event in terms of big names being moved. Despite this, for the Hurricanes, the moves they made during this trade deadline could be just what they needed to make that final push for the Stanley Cup.


The Hurricanes acquired Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jake Guentzel, alongside Washington Capitals centre Evgeny Kuznetsov, two former Stanley Cup champions who know what it takes to be a winner. Not only are they outstanding talents, but they could just be exactly what Carolina needed.


Jake Guentzel

Credit: Frank Gunn/TheCanadianPress


The biggest and most impactful move the Hurricanes made in this year’s NHL trade deadline was acquiring Jake Guentzel, an elite, goal-scoring forward who can not only put the puck in the net but can also dish it to his teammates and set them up for goal-scoring opportunities. 


Guentzel was drafted with the 77th overall pick of the 2013 NHL entry draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins. He had a 10-year stint down in Pittsburgh, before being shipped off to Carolina during this year’s trade deadline in exchange for Michael Bunting, Vasily Ponomarev, Ville Koivunen, the rights to forward Cruz Lucius, a conditional first-round pick in the 2024 NHL draft, and a conditional fifth-round pick in the 2024 NHL draft.


In Pittsburgh, Guentzel was a serial winner, especially when it came to the post-season. Guentzel posted an impressive 34 goals and 24 assists in 58 playoff games while maintaining a plus/minus of +4. He also played a massive role in the Penguins’ 2017 Stanley Cup victory, which gave him the highest honour in hocket just four years into his NHL career. 


Not only will Guentzel add elite goal-scoring and playmaking abilities to Carolina’s offense, but he’ll most importantly add a level of playoff experience which is what Carolina severely Lacks. 


The Canes didn’t stop with Guentzel however, as they also acquired the crafty centre Evgeny Kuznetsov, an intelligent player with a great hockey mind who can also net the puck and make something special out of nothing.


Kuznetsov is a Russian-born player, who signed an entry-level contract with the Washington Capitals in 2014 after putting up some impressive numbers with Traktor Chelyabinsk of the Kontinental Hockey League in Russia. He too stuck out a 10-year stint with his team, before being moved to Carolina this season.


Kuznetsov was one of the Capitals’ star players, essentially acting as Alex Ovechkin’s right-hand man, especially when it came to the playoffs. In a total of 87 playoff games with Washington, Kuznetsov racked up 29 goals and 38 assists while maintaining a plus/minus of +2. 


He too won a Stanley Cup with his former team in 2017, leading the charge for the Capitals in their quest for their first ever Stanley Cup in franchise history. In that 2017 post-season, Kuznetsov led the league in both points and assists while putting on an absolute hockey masterclass. 


While he may be aging in terms of a hockey player, he brings a level of experience along with one of the greatest hockey minds the game has ever seen to Carolina. Two things that will be crucial for the Hurricanes if they want to kick this post-season curse finally.


Carolina Hurricanes

Credit: Grant Halverson/Getty Images


There’s no doubt in hockey fans’ minds that the Carolina Hurricanes have been one of the best teams in the league for the past five years. However, this year, especially with their new additions, they are shaping up to be one of the most dangerous teams come playoff time.


In their current standing, they sit second in the Metropolitan division and eighth across the entire league with 90 total points. With only 14 games remaining on their schedule, they are essentially guaranteed a playoff spot and will look to make a deep run at the Stanley Cup this year. 


With their new signings, the Hurricanes have a chance to win it all this year. While some absolute powerhouses are roaming around this year like the Boston Bruins, the Florida Panthers, and the Colorado Avalanche, there’s no reason the believe that this new Hurricanes squad will lack the ability to compete.



Edited By: Ayantika Ghosh




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