Change is something that a lot of sports fans are always uncomfortable with at first because no one really knows what will happen after the said change occurs. This is why the reactions to the Jordan Staal trade involving Brandon Sutter & Brian Dumoulin were very mixed among Carolina fans when it happened. Obviously getting J. Staal is a huge boost to Carolina's forward corps, but many Hurricanes fans were not sure of what kind of player he would be and whether or not he fit the team's system. He could end up being a perfect fit, develop chemistry with his linemates and be as good as advertised or he could not work out at all. He has still yet to play one game with the Hurricanes so we don't know how good he will be.
With Brandon Sutter, on the other hand, most Carolina fans knew what we had in him, which was a solid checking line center with decent two-way upside. He was a perfect fit for the team's third line and most fans were comfortable with him centering that unit. Now that he is in Pittsburgh, no one is really sure of who will center the third line now and take over Sutter's role. Not many are sure where J. Staal fits on the team now either and thus, there are a lot of unanswered questions with the Hurricanes this year. While some may be excited about the new-look Hurricanes, there just as many who are skeptical because there is a lot that is up in the air right now.
The immediate future may look a bit dubious right now in terms of what the team's forward corps will look like, but one thing to remember about this trade is that Jordan Staal is a better overall player than Sutter. We may not know where Staal is going to play, but he makes this team's top-six stronger than it was over the last couple of years and that should immediately have fans excited. The Hurricanes can always find another checking center but they won't find another player like Jordan Staal for awhile, which is why the trade was made. There are still questions regarding who will take over the third line center role and even more uncertainty concerning who will take over Sutter's defensive responsibility but still, replacing him shouldn't be too hard if you look in the past and see who the Hurricanes used in these roles during prior seasons.
Sutter had only been with the team for four seasons and he spent three of them as the team's "shutdown center," so the team has been able to get by without him before. Looking into the past often provides answers for the future, so what we're going to do after the jump is look at Carolina's tough-minute forwards over the last five seasons, see how effective they were and discuss whether or not they can use a similar strategy this year.