- Matthew Coller, ESPN Insider
With the Olympic break giving the hockey world a reprieve from endless trade speculation and innuendo, NHL GMs have had plenty of time to analyze their roster strengths and weaknesses and put themselves in position to strike as soon as the roster freeze lifts after the Winter Games.
From that moment until 3:00 p.m. ET on March 5, those same GMs will be in a mad scramble to address their various roster holes and either strengthen their rosters for a hopeful postseason push or sell off extraneous pieces as they build toward better days in future seasons. Hockey Prospectus has scoured the league to find good fits for each of the 30 teams. Monday, we started the series off with the Atlantic Division.
Several teams in the Metropolitan Division are finding themselves in "soft sell" mode, where they want to improve, but not at the cost of the future. The East is stocked with clubs battling it out for the wild-card spots, and some are more likely to make a move for a star player than others if history is any guide.
Note: Goals versus threshold (GVT), is Hockey Prospectus' proprietary player valuation metric.
The need: Power-play scoring
If the Hurricanes are going to secure the final playoff spot, they will need to improve their scoring. Carolina ranks 21st in goals per game and 26th in power-play scoring percentage, and have received disappointing production from second-line center Jordan Staal and winger Jiri Tlusty, the latter of whom scored 23 goals in 48 games last season. It will be a near impossible task to win the final spot without another scoring forward who also can contribute on the power play.
The 41-year-old has not been a fit in Dallas under coach Lindy Ruff, often being relegated to a third-line role. Whitney has seen a major drop in power-play ice time, from being on the ice for 64.5 percent of the team's total man-advantage time last season to 45.6 percent in 2013-14. Even so, the veteran winger has managed nine power-play points, and has racked up 20 or more assists in a season seven times in his career. Whitney's setup ability could help get Tlusty and others rolling again and improve Carolina's chances at a postseason berth.
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