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2011 Training Camp Preview: Carolina Hurricanes Print
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Written by Blake Benzel   
Saturday, 20 August 2011 01:21

Jeff Skinner
A young team seems to be on the rise. After the Hurricanes made a pair of significant off-season signings, another playoff near-miss won't cut it in Carolina.

• 2010-11 record: 40-31-11; missed playoffs
Head Coach: Paul Maurice. Record with Carolina: 376-378-99-53. Career record: 452-444-99-64 (15th season).
Temperature of his seat: Room temperature
• Assistant coaches:
Rod Brind'amour, Tom Barrasso, Dave Lewis

OVERVIEWPaul Maurice

In the fourth year of Paul Maurice's second go-around, the pressure to compete and make the playoffs is slowly rising in Raleigh. It's been three years since Maurice guided a veteran ‘Canes squad to the Eastern Conference Finals, and a few months since a much younger group missed the playoffs by two points. Much the same roster returns, with the additions of rock-steady defenseman Tomas Kaberle and veteran goaltender Brian Boucher, who will play behind Cam Ward. Boucher alone should make the team much better – now it has a solid second option to give the poor kid a break every now and again. Kaberle will provide a spark to a power play that was 24th in the league (15.9 percent) and will help an offense that was 13th in the league. With Ward not having to start 70-plus games, another season of growth from their Calder Trophy-winning forward, Jeff Skinner, and a core roster that remains intact, for the most part, we could see the playoffs back in Raleigh sooner rather than later.

DID YOU KNOW?
Eric Staal needs 41 points to move past Kevin Dineen into sole possession of second place on the franchise's all-time points list – and 672 to top the list.

KEY ADDITIONS

D Tomas Kaberle (four goals, 42 assists) G Brian Boucher (18-10-4, .916, 2.42) LW Anthony Stewart (14 goals, 25 assists) LW Alexei Ponikarovsky (five goals, 15 assists)

KEY DEPARTURES

RW Erik Cole (26 goals, 26 assists) G Justin Pogge* (22-18-4, .907, 3.12)

*stats compiled in AHL 

KEY POSITION BATTLE

With the re-signing of Jussi Jokinen, two-thirds of Carolina's first line is set. The third, who will be replacing departed winger Cole, will likely be decided in camp. Ponikarovsky and Stewart were brought in to push for the job, but it will likely come down to a battle between Skinner and Tuomo Ruutu. With the pressure to make the playoffs looming, don't be surprised if a low-risk, high-reward type tryout offer is given to someone like J-P Dumont to try to push the regulars on the team for the job.

PLAYER ON THE VERGE OF A BREAKOUT SEASON

Brandon Sutter struggled in his second full season with the team, his point total dropping from 40 to 29 despite his plus/minus rising to a plus-13. Don't expect Sutter to be down again this season; he'll have more ice time, a larger role in the offense, and a chance to rack up stats on the power play with Cole gone.

PLAYER UNDER THE MOST PRESSURE

Eric Staal. With Cole gone, Staal is going to have to find chemistry with a brand new line mate and show he's still got the form that propelled him to being a 40-plus goal scorer. If that wasn't enough, the captain will be looked to for leadership and guidance during the post-season push.

PROSPECT TO WATCHZac Dalpe

Zac Dalpe. Considered by many to be Carolina's top prospect, Dalpe had a modest three goals and four points in 15 games. He'll likely see more than 15 games this season and could find himself on the power play at times as well.

On Twitter: @HockeyPrimetime and @bcbenzel

Photos by Getty Images

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Last Updated on Monday, 22 August 2011 10:27