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2005-06 Finish: 52-22-8, 2nd East
General Manager: Jim Rutherford (12th Season)
Head Coach: Peter Laviolette (3rd Season)
2005-06 Goals For: 294
2005-06 Goals Against: 260
2005-06 Power Play: 17.9% (17th)
2005-06 Penalty Killing: 81.8% (19th)
Points Leader: Eric Staal (100)
Goals Leader: Eric Staal (45)
Assists Leader: Eric Staal, Cory Stillman (55)

Offseason Moves: Signed goaltender John Grahame, who had been with the Tampa Bay Lightning, to a two-year contract; agreed to terms with right wing Trevor Letowski, who had been with the Columbus Blue Jackets, on a two-year contract; agreed to terms with defenceman Derrick Walser, who had been in Germany, on a one-year contract; signed right wing Shane Willis, who had been in Switzerland, to a one-year contract; acquired right wing Scott Walker from the Nashville Predators for centre Josef Vasicek; signed defenceman David Tanabe, who had been with the Boston Bruins, to a one-year contract; agreed to terms with defenceman Tim Conboy, who had been with the San Jose Sharks, on a one-year contract.

Goaltending: A battle with the flu and two bad playoff starts by Martin Gerber against the Montreal Canadiens led to Cam Ward's Stanley Cup-winning run in Carolina. And with his first championship comes job security as the new No. 1 netminder. Ward's Conn Smythe-winning performance in the postseason was due in part to his relaxed attitude in high-pressure situations. While there are few who doubt his future abilities, it will still be interesting to see how he deals with the ups-and-downs of playing 60 or more games in a full season. Backing up Ward will be John Grahame, who had to deal with some adversity of his own in the form of 'tough love' from Lightning coach John Tortorella. Grahame will get a fresh start in Carolina, and could perform better under coach Peter Laviolette.

Defence: Point scoring from the blueline isn't Carolina's best asset, but their six key defenders excel at keeping opposing forwards away from the front of the net. Mike Commodore and Niclas Wallin use their size and physical presence well while keeping things simple in their own end. Veterans Glen Wesley and Bret Hedican are great puckhandlers and have provide solid leadership. Their game plan for the most part is to get the puck in their own end, dump it down the length of the ice and wear down the opposing team's skaters by making them go after it again and again. No complaints here - especially after winning a Stanley Cup. They will also have David Tanabe back in the mix and a full season from Carolina's former draft pick will add depth, especially with Frantisek Kaberle out four to six months.

Forwards: With their first Stanley Cup victory secured, the Hurricanes got back down to square one at forward. Trade deadline rentals Mark Recchi and Doug Weight re-signed with their former teams over the summer, leaving the Hurricanes with almost the same core that started the 2005-06 regular season. But Carolina's offense is spread out evenly and remains rich in talent. Eric Staal tore up the scoresheets with a 100-point regular season and led the team in playoff scoring. At age 35, Rod Brind'Amour has embraced the new NHL with great success. He wins faceoffs, forechecks and excels in penalty-killing situations. Erik Cole brings a lot of energy and playmaking skills, while Justin Williams has great speed and a nose for the net. Carolina also has effective character players in Scott Walker, Craig Adams, Kevyn Adams and Chad Larose. The only drawback to the forward ranks is losing Cory Stillman for three to four months. He had surgery on his right shoulder in August and the Hurricanes will miss his 76-point performance from last season. If there isn't enough depth up front for another championship run, the team could always seek out more veteran help like they did last year.

Welcome to the NHL: Despite the best efforts of the Hurricanes, defenceman Jack Johnson has decided to remain at the University of Michigan for at least one more year. The team is reportedly looking to deal him for defensive help, but if nothing comes from these rumblings then Anton Babchuk could rise to the occasion. He is a physical specimen at 6-5 and over 200 pounds and plays a good, offensive-minded brand of hockey.
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