FRESH TALENT ON THE ICE
Perhaps most importantly, the on-ice product has been tinkered with, as well. The Hurricanes defied the odds in the NHL Draft Lottery to leapfrog their way from 11th to second in the first-round draft order. With the second overall pick in Dallas, the ’Canes selected Russian winger Andrei Svechnikov, a dynamic offensive force and a charming human being.
“I think he’s probably one of the most complete players we’ve seen in a few years,” says Tony MacDonald, the head of amateur scouting for the Hurricanes. “He’s a guy who is capable of being an impact player for the franchise for a lot of years.”
“I’m a big character person. You can watch him and say, ‘Oh, he’s a good player.’ But there’s more to it,” Brind’Amour says. “He’s a young kid, but he’s composed, mature and he looks you in the eye. Every interaction I’ve had with him has been positive. I think he’s going to be a great player. You don’t want to put too much pressure on him, but I think this is a guy who is going to have a great career.”
On the second day of the draft, the Hurricanes made a headline-stealing, five-player trade with Calgary, acquiring defenseman Dougie Hamilton, forward Micheal Ferland and defensive prospect Adam Fox in exchange for forward Elias Lindholm and defenseman Noah Hanifin.
Although the ’Canes parted ways with two players who were fifth overall picks in their respective draft years, they acquired a premier offensive defenseman, a rugged forward coming off a career year and a highly touted Harvard prospect.
“We wanted to acquire the best players we could,” Waddell says. “The message is we want to be better, we want to compete and we want to win.”
SO FAR, SO GOOD
That message was furthered in early July when the Hurricanes inked free agent defenseman Calvin de Haan to a four-year contract, bolstering what’s already one of the league’s best defensive corps.
“I get to play with one of the best, young blue lines in the NHL,” de Haan said. “I feel like I can step in and help this team win. I’m aware that the Hurricanes haven’t made the playoffs in the last nine years and, to be honest, I really want to be part of the solution here.”
From a retooled front office to a fresh perspective behind the bench to a shake- up in the roster on the ice, the Hurricanes are a much different team now than they were just a few short months ago. It’s all building to Opening Night at PNC Arena on Thursday, Oct. 4.
Take warning: the Hurricanes are going to be fast, they’re going to be skilled, they’re going to be tough—and they’re going to be good.