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C Rod Brind'Amour, LW Ray Whitney
THESE ARE the new-look Hurricanes. Gone are Rod Brind'Amour, now retired after 21 years, and Ray Whitney, lost to free agency. They were grizzled veterans with scars that traced their faces like lines on a road map. Today's Carolina team, in contrast, is a collection of wide-eyed, apple-cheeked moppets. Only four Hurricanes players are in their 30s, which means there will be plenty of opportunities for Carolina's young guns to prove themselves. Jeff Skinner, the team's top draft pick and a 50-goal scorer with the Kitchener Rangers last season, may see time. Fresh-faced Brandon Sutter, 21, enters his third season off of a 21-goal effort in 2009--10, giving the team depth at center behind bellwether Eric Staal, who scored 29 goals. (He scored only eight in the Hurricanes' 47 losses.)
The defensemen are sound, including Joni Pitkanen, Tim Gleason and Joe Corvo. Goalie Cam Ward, a former Conn Smythe Trophy winner, carried Carolina to the conference finals two years ago, but he missed 13 games last season after an errant skate blade lacerated his right leg in November, then missed another 19 with a back injury three months later. He finished under .500 for the first time in his career. If Ward is not past his struggles, this could be a long season for the Hurricanes.
Peter DeBoer (3rd season)
32-37-13 (14th in East)