The Carolina Hurricanes have amassed elite defensemen over the past few years, and the group has gotten even better this offseason. With the recent additions of Brent Burns and Calvin de Haan, who signed a professional tryout (PTO) contract last week, a squad that was already competitive and one of the best defensive squads in the league, just s ‘to improve.

Departures and new faces of hurricanes

At the end of the 2021-22 season, there were a few question marks on the roster. On defense, the first move was to trade Tony DeAngelo to the Philadelphia Flyers. The Hurricanes gained a handful of draft picks and, more importantly, more cap flexibility, while Brendan Smith and Ian Cole were among those who left via unrestricted free agency.

Related: Golden Knights Trade Pacioretty, Coghlan For Hurricanes

Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell was very busy strengthening the blue line on July 13. He acquired Brent Burns (34% salary retention) from the San Jose Sharks, along with Lane Pederson, in exchange for Steven Lorentz, Eetu Mäkiniemi and a conditional third party. -Round pick. Waddell followed this by receiving Max Pacioretty and Dylan Coghlan for future consideration. However, the team has since announced that Pacioretty will be out of training until February with a torn MCL.

Hurricane Defensive Depth

The Hurricanes’ left-handed defensemen include Jaccob Slavin, Brady Skjei and Jake Gardiner, with a few depth players including William Lagesson and Maxim Lajoie.

The team has a lot more depth on the right side, and some players are comfortable on the left side as well. Burns, Brett Pesce, Ethan Bear, Coghlan, Jalen Chatfield and, of course, de Haan, who has a PTO, which is interesting. It’s possible the Hurricanes were the only team to offer him an invite, but that’s unlikely. In Chicago, he proved to be a valuable second-pair right-handed defenseman, but Carolina is already stacked at the position. Competing with Bear, Coghlan and Chatfield for a spot on the roster will bring healthy competition to training camp.

Caroline’s keys to success

This group is clearly one of the best defensive groups in the NHL, and they were acquired for great value. The top two projected pairings (Slavin-Burns, Skjei-Pesce) arrive with a sub-$20 million price tag not only for this season but also for 2023-24. I think one of the biggest keys to success will be that head coach Rod Brind’Amour will keep the teams together after finding the right chemistry.

When a team has this many NHL-caliber defensemen, we usually see a lot of movement, even injury-free. Brind’Amour has to find what works best, especially on that lower torque, and run with it.

Another key element is the right deployment. A great Slavin-Burns couple could be world class or not work at all. On paper, they balance each other very well, but what matters is when the puck hits the ice. Once the duo have a few games together, expectations will become clearer for the best pair. Burns has slowed down and can be a defensive burden at times, but with the right system I’m confident he can be effective at what he does best, moving the puck and being responsible defensively. On the other hand, Slavin is one of the best defensemen in the NHL and can back up Burns when needed. We saw that work with DeAngelo last season, and now we’ll see Burns in a similar role, but he also has a lot of experience and leadership skills.

Brent Burns with the San Jose Sharks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Overall, the Hurricanes defensive lineup will be elite regardless of pairings. The optimization will be important, but I have no doubt that Brind’Amour will know how to use them well.


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