By Allan Muir
September 29, 2013
Marc-Andre Fleury
Gene J. Puskar/AP

New York Rangers

Alain Vigneault
christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images

Washington Capitals

Braden Holtby
Fred Kloury/Icon SMI

Philadelphia Flyers

Claude Giroux
Len Redkoles/Getty Images

New York Islanders

John Tavares
Paul Bereswill/AP

Columbus Blue Jackets

Sergei Bobrovsky
Jason Mowry/Icon SMI

New Jersey Devils

Cory Schneider
Rich Graessl/Icon SMI

Carolina Hurricanes

Jeff Skinner
Gene J. Puskar/AP

Outlook: It's been four years since the 'Canes last earned a playoff berth and there are few reasons to believe that streak won't stretch to five. Sure, they've had to deal with a wrath-of-God plague of injuries along the way, but that isn't what doomed them. The reality is, this has been one poorly constructed team. And while GM Jim Rutherford has made a couple of sharp adds over the summer to begin to address that problem, the lineup still has a patchwork feel to it that suggests expansion team more than postseason contender. The first line is solid, but the second is a huge concern with health problems (Jeff Skinner, Tuomo Ruutu) and disapponting production (Jordan Staal) to overcome. Scoring isn't their main concern, though. That 29th-ranked defense is. The focus then will be on a blueline that will sport at least three new faces after a season-ending injury to Joni Pitkanen. The ability of that group to impact the league's worst special teams unit will determine whether Carolina makes a show of it or quickly sinks to the bottom of the conference.

You May Like