The St. Louis Blues have had an interesting relationship with the franchise that currently resides in Carolina. The Blues are looking to keep up their winning ways against the Canes in 2016-17.
The St. Louis Blues have had an odd history with the Carolina Hurricanes in recent times. They’ve swapped some pretty big names over the years.
Kelly Chase played a handful of seasons in Hartford (where the franchise originated from). The Blues traded uber-popular Brendan Shanahan to the Whalers.
Fortunately, the relationship was not completely one sided. The Blues did get Hall of Fame defenseman, Chris Pronger out of it.
Switching the focus more to the present, it has not been a good stretch for the franchise. They have not won 40 games since 2010-11. They have not made the playoffs since 2008-09, when they made it to the conference finals.
It’s been feast or famine since the team ended up in Raleigh in 1997. They’ve only been in the playoffs five times, but made the conference finals three times, Cup Finals twice and won once.
The current squad does not appear to be set up to make it that far. They finished 10 points out of the last playoff spot in 2015-16.
The Hurricanes made some pretty decent additions, but failed to address a major issue. They could be improved, but are still likely to miss out come the season’s end.
The Hurricanes had to take on the ridiculous salary of Bryan Bickell in an offseason trade. His addition alone would be a detraction, but it was necessary to get the other piece.
Carolina picked up Teuvo Teravainen in the deal and they were happy with it. Both sides got what they wanted.
Chicago cleared out cap space by dumping the grossly overpaid Bickell. Carolina ate the money in order land Teravainen, who will only be in his second true full season.
Bickell can be a fine depth player. He’s made for the third line and gives decent production if that’s all you expect of him.
Teravainen has shown a decent scoring touch in his brief NHL career. It will be up to him to build on that and not fall into that failed prospect category.
Teravainen has the talent to be very good. How he plays in Carolina will depend on what they ask of him.
Right now, he’s not a top line player by himself. He can play there if coupled with other good players, but he has not found his game yet to be a star.
The Hurricanes also signed Lee Stempniak. At 33, his career is on the downturn, but he still produces enough to warrant a deal.
He had 51 points last season between New Jersey and Boston. Stempniak isn’t likely to be a 20 goal scorer, but he still chips away and has the skill to contribute on the offensive end.
Gerbe has been decent in terms of production over his career. In 2013-14, he tied his career high with 31 points.
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He has been inconsistent in terms of games played and defensive production. He has been a minus-player four straight years and only played 70 or more games twice.
Gerbe only saw the ice in 47 games last year. He only put in three goals and 7 points.
He latched on with the New York Rangers in the offseason. He’ll be able to take out his frustrations on Carolina more often, but the Hurricanes will have bigger worries.
Carolina is hoping they have addressed some of their scoring issues. They were one of only three teams in the Eastern Conference to not score 200 goals.
That remains to be seen since their main additions are role players and youngsters. The biggest issue will still be goaltending.
The Hurricanes finished 29th in the league in even-strength save percentage. After failing to land a replacement – Marc-Andre Fleury, Ben Bishop and Brian Elliott were all named – the ‘Canes puzzlingly gave Cam Ward an extension.
Barring any trades, the Hurricanes will be going with Ward and Eddie Lack again. Not exactly the combo to strike fear into opponents.
Similar to other Eastern Conference teams, they don’t seem to have made enough changed to make much of a push. They will likely be improved, but they are relying an many intangibles to change.
Carolina might have made enough improvements to sneak into the eighth spot, but they’ll need a big year from Ward.
There’s a rare large gap between the matchups between the Blues and the Hurricanes.
The Hurricanes will play in St. Louis on Thursday, January 5. They will be hoping to catch the Blues on a hangover since that is the first game for the Blues following the Winter Classic.
The return affair will happen on Saturday, April 8. There won’t be any time for beach visits though as the Blues return home to play Colorado the next night.
The Blues hold a decided advantage in this series. They are 43-28-5 against the Hurricanes/Whalers.
The two squads split their games last year. The Blues won on the road 5-2, but lost at home 4-1.
The Blues will be looking to sweep the two game set for the first time since 2014-15.