No sleep till Brooklyn?
For the Carolina Hurricanes, the song of choice may be Pearl Jam’s “Future Days.”
“I’m excited about where we’re at as far as that goes,” coach Bill Peters said prior to the Hurricanes’ 2-1 shootout loss to the New York Islanders on Tuesday night at the Barclays Center. “But that (question) goes to the management group and (general manager) Ron Francis. I have 100 percent total trust in what he’s going to do this summer.
“We’ll talk all the time,” Peters said. “We know what we need to do. We have holes, we want to fill our holes. We think we’ve addressed some of the stuff (with what) we’ve done in the draft. We’re real excited about some of our young D-men who aren’t here right now in the (Trevor) Carricks, (Hayden) Fleurys, (Roland) McKeowns of the world; excited about (Sebastian) Aho, a real good Finnish player that we think may come over and make our team. … Real good reports on the (Aleksi) Saarela kid we got from the Rangers (in the Eric Staal trade), and we’re happy with the quality and the quantity of (the) picks we have in the next two drafts.”
With Tuesday’s loss, the Hurricanes fell to 33-28-16 and remained five points behind Philadelphia for the second and final Eastern Conference wild-card berth. The Hurricanes, who have five regular-season games remaining, haven’t qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs since the 2008-09 season, and according to predictive website SportsClubStats.com, Carolina entered play Tuesday with a 0.2 percent chance to reach the postseasonthis season.
Still, there are reasons to be optimistic about the franchise’s future. The Hurricanes have 11 picks in this June’s draft – and another 10 in the 2017 draft – along with potentially $35.7 million in salary cap room. Industry website generalfanager.com estimates the Hurricanes have 13 players signed to $38.264 million worth of NHL contracts for nextseason, and it has been reported NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told the league’s Board of Governors the salary cap will max out at $74 million.
While the Hurricanes likely won’t spend in the same manner as their Metropolitan Division rivals, the New York Rangers or Pittsburgh Penguins, Carolina has a prospect pool that The Hockey News recently ranked fourth best in the league.
And Peters was emphatic that the experience the Hurricanes are gaining in playoff-type games as this season winds down will benefit the franchise in the long run.
“They’re playoff games, and there’s good intensity to them. Everyone we’re playing is battling to either get in, stay in or have home ice. And it’s a great evaluation process for our guys,” Peters said.
“The young guys have been really good about it all. You can see the hardest thing is guys coming off of injury. Guys who have missed a lot of time and they try and come back into the league at this stage, it’s hard. Because they left the league and the league wasn’t going at this intensity and this pace. All of a sudden they come back and their timing is a little bit off, and all of a sudden they’re (saying), ‘Whoa, this league’s moving again.’”
Moving would not be the adjective used to describe the fourth and final game between the Hurricanes and Islanders this season. New York outshot the Hurricanes, 31-27, and neither team scored until Derek Ryan opened the scoring with 1 minute, 29 seconds left in the second period with his second NHL goal in four games this season with Carolina.
The sequence began with the Hurricanes’ Nathan Gerbe deflecting Josh Bailey’s inexplicable cross ice pass in the offensive zone. Ryan carried the loose puck to the left faceoff circle before wiring a quick shot that beat Thomas Greiss on the short side. Greiss stopped 26 of 27 shots.
New York tied the score at 1-1with 7:52 left in regulation on Anders Lee’s power play goal.
The teams remained tied until the shootout, in which Kyle Okposo scored the lone goal. Ryan hit the post, and Greiss made a poke check on Jaccob Slavin before stuffing Joakim Nordstrom.
Cam Ward made 30 saves, as the Hurricanes ended the season 2-0-2 against the Islanders..
“It’s always frustrating when you lose,” said Ryan, who was called up from AHL affiliate Charlotte on Tuesday morning. He centered a line with Gerbe and Patrick Brown. “We got in trouble in the third. Credit to them: They kept going.”