With 27 goals allowed (2.7 per game), the Carolina Hurricanes are in decent shape. There are, however, some concerns. Defensive stalwart Jaccob Slavin hasn’t been his usual self following the team’s COVID pause. While there’s little doubt he’ll rebound, it’s always odd to see him make a bad play. It happens so rarely that this season has had moments that jump out at you.
Overall, the Hurricanes’ blueline has looked good but not great. Hamilton and Pesce have looked good overall; Jake Gardiner has looked much more comfortable, though his offense still isn’t where it was expected to be when he signed as a free agent in 2019.
Brady Skjei continues to blend in, though he frustrates me more than any other defenseman on the team. The talent is there, no question, but the consistency isn’t. I’m not writing him off—not even close—but I would like to see him smooth out his overall game. He has the tools to be a very good player, especially on this team’s second pairing.
Haydn Fleury is maturing into an ornery presence on the back-end and I love to see it. Not everybody feels this way apparently, as it seems that some Sumatran curse hovers over him when it comes to offense. He’ll break through, probably with a game-winner.
Jake Bean saw action in 3 games and didn’t look out of place, though his future with the team—and its blueline depth—is murky. The only contract coming off the books after the season is Hamilton’s and Waddell will likely do everything in his power to re-sign him. I can’t see much in the way of a trade unless Fleury or Bean himself are moved. Slavin and Pesce make tantalizing targets for other teams but I don’t see them getting moved. Gardiner and Skjei could go, though their contracts make that a tough proposition.
Looking at the penalty kill, things have been okay but far from perfect. Sitting in the middle of the league with an 80.56% kill rate, there’s room for improvement. Despite my initial thoughts, the Hurricanes have had the 10th-fewest power plays against (36). Still, there have been times where they allow too much space and let the opposition get a little too comfortable