Executive Vice President and General Manager Ron Francis and head coach Bill Peters closed the book on 2016-17 with their annual end-of-season press conference on Wednesday.
During the nearly 30-minute long question and answer session with the local media, Francis and Peters looked back on what went right and wrong in the 2016-17 campaign and what needs to change in the offseason and moving forward.
Here are some highlights from the wide-ranging discussion.
On the 2016-17 season
Francis: "I go into every season thinking … we want to make the playoffs and get a chance to compete for the Stanley Cup. This year is no different. … There's a lot of things we got better in, and there are a lot of things that maybe stayed status quo. At the end of the day, it ended up not being good enough. … Disappointing we didn't get in, but I do think we still made progress forward. There are things we still need to fix, maybe not as daunting a task as we were looking at in previous years in that regard."
Peters: "Our team is better now than it was a year ago at this time when we met. Statistically it's very close and doesn't look like it is, but our division was a great division."
On the 13-game point streak in March
Francis: "With a young team, it's still valuable for them to go through that experience, to compete and battle, and to put together a streak of 9-0-4 was a good learning experience for them and impressive to see."
On offseason priorities
Francis: "It's not a secret. Our goals against was 18th and our save percentage was tied for 27th in the league. That's certainly an area we've got to look at real closely and fix for next season."
Peters: "I think we have specific needs, very specific needs, so as a coach I'm going to give very specific names."
Francis: "We were all over the map on the 5-6 [defensive] combination this year, so that's something we certainly need to address. It stems from going back as far as last summer, we thought we had what we needed. It didn't materialize on July 1, so we were in a bit of a scramble mode. We tried different things and just never could get comfortable."
On how the Canes can use their assets
Francis: "We're hoping with the fact that teams feels they're going to lose things, they may be looking to pick up an asset rather than losing something for nothing. I do think with 11 picks in this year's draft, seven of which will probably come in the top 80-85 picks of the draft, that maybe we have some of the pieces necessary to do some of those things. We're certainly looking at all options, and we'll see how things play out over the next few months."
On what needs to change for the 2017-18 season
Peters: "There's lots to change and lots of work to be done. I think it's realistic that it can be done and accomplished. … You can't go on extended losing streaks. Our start should have been better than it was. We wasted some points on the road. … That can't happen and won't happen moving forward. I'm really excited about moving forward to next year. I'm excited about actually being at camp from the start of camp and having a better handle on who we have and what we don't have. I'm really excited about what's going on in Charlotte right now and who's driving that bus. I'm excited about the fact that we have seven picks early, and I hope we maybe use three of them, two. … The thing I'm really excited about are the steps certain guys took."
On the "State Fair road trip" and if the Hurricanes could play a home game during that time
Francis: "We do think looking at dates and start times next season that we can hopefully get two or three home games in earlier in the year and not have to wait so long. … Donnie [Waddell] and I have had some discussion about whether we try to do that (play at home during the fair) or not. I don't think we've ever come to a resolve on the issue. … It's a fine balance between getting your team a home game and making your Season Ticket Members and fans upset because they're sitting in traffic for an hour and a half trying to get to a game. We're looking at a lot of things."
On Bryan Bickell
Peters: "Bicks is a special person who brought lots. He's got a lot of love in that room and a lot of respect in that room. Quality person. Just special qualities. He's got that magnetism about him, and he's got the ability to bring energy to a room, whether it's a locker room, a card table or a fishing boat. He's a guy you want to be around."
Odds and Ends
- Francis said the contract of goaltending coach David Marcoux will not be renewed. Additional coaching staff decisions have yet to be made. "I met with Steve Smith, Rod Brind'Amour and David Marcoux individually since the end of the season. I usually give Bill some time between the end of the season and when we meet to sort of take the emotions out of it. We'll meet at some point and discuss the staff and direction we want to go there," Francis said.
- Francis said he was contacted about 10 potential World Championship participants. Rosters haven't been officially announced, so he didn't name names but said five have committed, two are undecided and three will not play.
- A couple of players are still going to visit with specialists, but Francis said it doesn't look as though anyone will need summer surgeries.
- Francis said he has not yet had conversations with Bickell about joining the organization in any sort of capacity. Bickell and his family plan to move back to Ontario this summer, Francis said.