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2021 In Review: A Franchise-Best Year

Pacing the NHL, hanging a banner, winning awards, and a future brighter than ever

by Walt Ruff @WaltRuff / Hurricanes.com

RALEIGH, NC. - The closing of the calendar year is often viewed as a time to reflect, looking back on the 365 days that were. What has changed? What are we proud of? Well, perhaps a better question is asking what hasn't changed? In terms of what to be proud of, there's a lot of that for the Carolina Hurricanes.

 

Best Year Yet

Accumulating a record of 58-19-9 and 125 points over the course of 86 games, the team etched franchise history in wins, points and win percentage in 2021. Their victories were four better than 2019 when they totaled 54 and in terms points, 13 more than the same 2019 when they racked up 112. On top of those two, their points percentage not only the best-ever for the organization, but a league-leading .727%. To further, no club in the NHL has accomplished that number since 2013.

Only nine teams in NHL history have ever amassed more than 125 points during a span of any January 1 - December 31, with the Canes now becoming one of them.

One of the driving factors that led the team to their success has been keeping the puck out of their net, another category in which they paced the NHL during the calendar year. Allowing just 196 goals in total, the team's average of just 2.28 goals against-per-game comes in as the lowest margin. An area that played a crucial role in keeping the puck out of the net? The penalty kill, which also claims the top spot league-wide for 2021, shutting down 86.8% of opposing team man advantages.

 

Video: NSH@CAR, Gm5: Staal wins Game 5 in overtime

 

A Banner & Awards

All of the above led to another banner going up in the rafters of PNC Arena, as the Canes claimed the 2020-21 Discover Central Division Championship.

Moved from the Metropolitan to the Central as a part of the NHL's temporary realignment for the COVID-19-shortened regular season, the team made their introduction a strong one, claiming the #1 seed with points in 44 of their 56 games. A large portion of that success came from home ice, where they took an earning in the standings in an outstanding 25 out of 28 contests.

Along with the team's success, or rather, as a part of that team success was the outstanding work of defenseman Jaccob Slavin. Participating in his sixth and seventh seasons with the team, #74 made more and more fans around the league aware of his abilities as one of the best defenders in all of the National Hockey League. Taking just one penalty during the entire 2020-21 campaign, Slavin was awarded with the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, given to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct, combined with a high standard of playing ability.

In addition to the individual award, the team's head coach, Rod Brind'Amour, was also recognized for his work as well. The same day that he signed a three-year extension to remain with the team, the former team captain and Stanley Cup winner himself was presented with the Jack Adams Award - given to the league's best coach - for the 2020-21 season.

 

 

1,000 For The Captain

On April 12, 2021 the team celebrated Jordan Staal, who played in his 1,000th NHL game.

Just shy of 15 years after he made his debut with the Pittsburgh Penguins, the leader of the locker room was celebrated with a pre-game ceremony and earning an assist in the effort against Detroit.

Joining rare company, Staal is one of just 357 players since the NHL's inception in 1917 to play 1000 games, with now more than 600 of them coming in a Hurricanes sweater. Providing countless memories along the way, it was an unforgettable night recognizing the effort of one of the biggest icons in team history.

 

 

A Very Bright Future

2021 was the first full calendar year that the Canes were in affiliation with the Chicago Wolves, with the Illinois-based club serving as the franchise's top developmental affiliate. How did they celebrate that partnership? With an American Hockey League best 41 wins during the calendar year, also claiming their own Central Division Championship on the way to having the league's best position in the standings.

In just one year's time we have already seen how necessary it remains to have NHL-ready players available on call, with 16 players playing for both the Wolves and the Canes over the course of that span. Despite the revolving door, Chicago (AHL) posted a year-long record of 41-13-2-3 (87 Points, .737 Win Percentage), also taking the highest points percentage of any NHL team's AHL affiliate.

On top of the players who are just a step away, the players coming up the pipeline from their drafting day are also providing a whole new level of optimism for the franchise. Although the tournament was unfortunately cancelled earlier this week due to the impact of COVID-19 after just three days, the Canes made history twice at the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championships. The team became the first club to have ten players named to final rosters since the NHL shortened the draft to seven rounds and they also became the first organization ever to have four seventh round picks representing their countries. This is a massive testament to the team's ability to navigate the draft, headed by Assistant General Manager Darren Yorke.

 

 

2021 Leaders:

Games Played - Sebastian Aho (83)

Goals - Sebastian Aho (39)

Assists - Sebastian Aho (52)

Points - Sebastian Aho (91)

Penalty Minutes - Andrei Svechnikov (79)

Overtime Goals - Martin Necas (3)

Time On Ice per Game - Jaccob Slavin (23:21)

Goaltending Wins - Frederik Andersen (16)

 


  

Worth A Click:

Canes Clinch Central Division Title

Brind'Amour Wins Jack Adams Award

Jordan Staal, Day One to Game 1,000

Aho, Necas Hit The Links With Style

All-Star Fan Voting Open Now

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