The Carolina Hurricanes finished the 2011-2012 regular season in 12th place in the Eastern Conference with an overall record of 33-33-16 (82 points); this disappointing finish to the season from a team used to playing hockey after the end of the regular season prompted the front office to make some major changes in the ensuing offseason. The team was specifically looking to add a top-line forward to provide an immediate impact on the offensive side of the puck and help to ignite an offense that was ranked 27th overall in offensive production (out of 30 NHL teams) at the end of the 2011-2012 season.
The Hurricanes' began their offseason by orchestrating a blockbuster trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins for prolific center Jordan Staal. Staal scored 25 goals and added 25 assists in 62 games as the Pittsburgh Penguins' third-line center during the 2011-2012 season, and would give the Hurricanes two all-star caliber centers (Eric and Jordan Staal) to quarterback the top two scoring lines. The team traded center Brandon Sutter, defensive prospect Brian Dumoulin and the eighth pick in the 2012 NHL Summer Entry Draft to the Pittsburgh Penguins for center Jordan Staal; the Hurricanes then signed Staal to a 10-year extension worth $6 million per season.
The second major offseason acquisition for the Hurricanes' was signing ex-Washington Capitals right-winger Alexander Semin to a one-year deal worth $7 million. Semin not only provides a speedy option on the wing, but is also one of the best scoring wing players in the National Hockey League when used in the right situations. Semin has averaged 31 goals per season over the past six seasons with the Washington Capitals, with his highest total (40) coming in the 2009-2010 season.
Both players have not only been welcomed openly in Raleigh by the Hurricanes' organization and fanbase, but have seemingly adjusted to playing with their new teammates in a new system under head coach Kirk Muller. Alexander Semin has spent most of his time this season as a winger on the top scoring line with captain Eric Staal and Jiri Tlusty, and the trio has developed a chemistry that facilitated Staal's 11-game point streak and helped the team move into a tie for first place in the Southeast Division. Semin has three goals and seven assists (10 scoring points) so far this season, but seems to have found a niche in the the Hurricanes' offensive that will keep him in Raleigh for more than one season.
Jordan Staal has anchored the second-line, playing mostly with Jeff Skinner and Drayson Bowman or Patrick Dwyer. While Staal only has two goals so far this young season, he has 10 assists which leads the teams and has provided valuable time both on the powerplay and on the penalty kill. Staal has also developed good chemistry with linemate Jeff Skinner which shows in Skinner's season stats of seven goals (five of which were assisted by Staal) and seven assists (14 total points).
Both players will be in action when the Hurricanes face the Winnipeg Jets at home in the PNC Arena tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m.
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