Luke DeCock

Peters re-signed, but Canes still have unfinished business – DeCock

The Canes head coach Bill Peters and the players enjoy themselves during an NHL game played between the Carolina Hurricanes and the Buffalo Sabres a PNC Arena in Raleigh on Jan. 8, 2015. The Canes beat the Sabres.
The Canes head coach Bill Peters and the players enjoy themselves during an NHL game played between the Carolina Hurricanes and the Buffalo Sabres a PNC Arena in Raleigh on Jan. 8, 2015. The Canes beat the Sabres. cseward@newsobserver.com

This is when the quiet part of the NHL offseason becomes the really quiet part of the offseason, when most of the business of hockey is finished and the unfinished business is put aside until fall.

The Carolina Hurricanes took care of one considerable piece of unfinished business Wednesday, signing coach Bill Peters to a two-year contract extension that will keep him with the team through the end of the 2018-19 season, but there’s still plenty left to do before training camp in September.

Locking up Peters was a no-brainer, with the Hurricanes clearly headed in the right direction, even if they have yet to turn their statistical advantage into a standings advantage, and Peters looking forward to coaching what should be a more-skilled, still-improving team next season.

“We haven’t made the playoffs, but Bill’s goal is similar to ours,” general manager Ron Francis said. “We think we’re right there. We want to get in the playoffs and we want to have success around here and we think he can be a big part of that moving forward.”

It probably should have happened a long time ago, and it would have made just as much sense to lock Peters down for an even longer period, but the uncertainty surrounding Peter Karmanos’ ownership of the team makes entering into long-term commitments difficult.

We think we’re right there. We want to get in the playoffs and we want to have success around here and we think he can be a big part of that moving forward.

Canes general manager Ron Francis on coach Bill Peters

Peters (65-72-27) now has an extension but Francis does not, for example, although that’s expected to be sorted out before the season, and while there’s a new deal for the head coach, the assistant coaches will head into the final years of their contracts.

Still, having some degree of security with Peters – who was highly sought two years ago when the Hurricanes outmaneuvered the Pittsburgh Penguins among others to land him – is better than going into this season with his contract hanging over everyone, especially if pieces fall into place and the Hurricanes break through.

Re-signing Peters, 51, completes the last piece of pressing offseason business, with all of the player contracts handled, but there’s still quite a bit more to do.

Last season’s goalie tandem remains in place, and while the Hurricanes are prepared to go into the season that way, they’re open to a change if something becomes available. They also would like to add one or two veteran depth defensemen to fill out the blue line and as potential expansion-draft protection and have their antennae up should a cap-strapped team be forced to move a useful forward, with the Detroit Red Wings and New York Rangers the most likely candidates.

“We’ve got some young guys that will fight for it in both positions,” Francis, 53, said. “You never know what will happen. We did the (Joakim) Nordstrom deal in Traverse City (Mich.) last year (at rookie camp). It was the week before camp. There’s always the possibility of something changing moving forward, but if it doesn’t, we’re comfortable right now going into the season.”

Even without new additions, Peters expects to tweak the team’s style to be even more aggressive, with more pressure on the puck and more bodies attacking the net, to take advantage of what he sees as a general, overall increase in team speed.

Some of that will be done in his absence, since Peters will miss the first two weeks of training camp as an assistant coach for Team Canada in the World Cup. The foundation is there, though, having been successfully established by Peters, which made his contract extension a fait accompli.

His work here has been commendable so far. Peters knows as well as anyone, if he wants another contract extension, talking about progress won’t be enough. That’s the real unfinished business for the Hurricanes.

Luke DeCock: 919-829-8947, ldecock@newsobserver.com, @LukeDeCock

Showing improvement

The Hurricanes record since Bill Peters took over as coach.

 

Season

W

L

OTL

PTS

2014-15

30

41

11

71

2015-16

35

31

16

86

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