When people ask me why the Hurricanes have struggled so much this year, I usually point to one of two things. The first is special teams, which kind of speaks for itself at this point, and the other is depth. Jim Rutherford spent a lot of money on the team's core and it's left the team paper thin in terms of forward depth. Their third and fourth lines are composed of players either on entry level contracts or guys who are making around the league minimum. Every GM has to find bargains, but the Hurricanes were scraping the bottom to fill out their depth. To make things worse, the team's top-six forwards have gone through injuries and scoring droughts all year, which has really exposed how bad this team's depth is and Kirk Muller's line juggling has also added to this. When Patrick Dwyer & Nathan Gerbe are second liners in your system, then that kind of shows how deep your team is.
The popular argument against the Hurricanes is that their core has underperformed and they have in terms of goal scoring. However, if you look at how each player is performing in terms of puck-possession and controlling territorial play, they haven't been the biggest concern on the Hurricanes this year. Timothy Bonnar of Arctic Ice Hockey made a similar argument about the Jets a few months ago and the same thing can be applied to the Hurricanes.
The Hurricanes look olike a pretty solid team when Eric Staal & Alex Semin are on the ice and it doesn't matter which defense pairing is behind him. The same can also be said for Jordan Staal's line, although they tend to struggle when they're used with the third defense pair. After that, you have players like Gerbe, Tlusty & Nash who have had mostly positive results while others like Ruutu, Bowman & Lindholm have been more mixed. Put them in front of the team's top-four and they are fine but after that they'll have problems. The same can be said for Drayson Bowman, who has been crushed when paired with anyone outside of the Canes top-four and the team's two regular fourth liners (Malhotra & Dvorak) have been underwater no matter who they are used with. Remember, those two were on the Canes "third line" for part of the year due to injuries and depth problems.
So going by this, the team's forward depth looks a little better than normal but their fourth line has been a wreck and most of the players outside of the Staals, Semin & Skinner have berought mixed results. Although, none of this is really surprising and the rest of the league is probably similar. This is something Tyler Dellow, the developer of the chart, states in his response to Bonnar's article. You would expect most team's to look pretty good with their top-six and best defensemen out there while struggling to stay afloat territorially with their fourth line & third defense pairing on the ice. So, is the Hurricanes depth really that bad compared to the rest of the league or are they a pretty standard case?no comments