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Hurricanes vs Rangers: What will it prove?

Written by Jonathan Lidskin

The NHL announced at 4:30 P.M. EST on May 26th that the playoff format would be expanded to 24 teams for the 2020 season. This means that hockey fans get to witness a first round 5 game series between the 6th seeded Carolina Hurricanes and the 11th seeded New York Rangers. Other than the fact that this matchup is going to be filled with electric talent, the series is going to tell us a lot about how to build an NHL franchise.

What to watch for

The obvious answer is the New York Rangers stars. While the Rangers didn’t have a fantastic season compared to a lot of teams ahead of them in the East, they were arguably one of the most fun teams to watch in the NHL this season. The Rangers are led by Artemi Panarin who is tied for third in the NHL in points, and Mika Zibanejad who is fifth in the NHL in goals. The main thing to look out for from the Hurricanes is the return of Defenseman Dougie Hamilton. Hamilton suffered a fractured fibula on January 16th and was a Norris Trophy candidate before getting injured. His return could boost the Hurricanes chances to shut down Panarin and Zibanejad and ultimately win the series.

Photo: New York Post

What this series should tell front offices

It’s hard to tell a general manager that he should be building a team a certain way based off a 6 vs 11 matchup, but the Canes and Rangers are built so differently that it’s hard not to notice this aspect of the series. The Canes, while having good players, are more of a team that is solid lines 1-4. They definitely have more depth than the Rangers and even though they have depth, they still have really good players. Dougie Hamilton was supposed to be an all-star before he got injured, but was replaced in the game by Carolina defenseman Jaccob Slavin. Canes 1st line center Sebastian Aho was also a 2019 all star. The point is, Carolina does not have a point leader inside the top 20 and very much rely on solid players throughout all their lines to win games. On the other hand, the Rangers are almost the complete opposite. They are not as good as the Canes lines 1-4, but the Rangers are better lines 1-2. I’ve already talked about how good Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin are, but the Rangers will also get Chris Kreider back for the playoffs. Whoever wins this series will prove to the league what type of team front offices should be looking to build.

But it’s just one series…

Yes, it is a 6 vs 11 matchup so after all, will this series really prove which type of team is more effective? To win a Stanley Cup, a team needs stars and it needs depth. Take the Boston Bruins for example. The Bruins have guys that have been on their team for the majority of the last decade and they also have guys who are studs like David Pastrnak who leads the NHL in goals with 48. To be at the level they are, it is important to find a perfect balance between stars and depth. However, this Canes-Rangers series could be something a general manager could point to when figuring out where to start in the rebuilding process.

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