BUFFALO -- The Carolina Hurricanes could be looking to shake up their roster after missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs for a ninth straight season, general manager Don Waddell told NHL.com Thursday.
The Hurricanes (36-35-11) finished sixth in the Metropolitan Division, 14 points behind the New Jersey Devils for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference. Waddell was hired to replace Ron Francis as GM on May 8, the same day Rod Brind'Amour was promoted from assistant to replace Bill Peters as coach.
In a wide-ranging interview at the 2018 NHL Scouting Combine, Waddell discussed what changes could be in store for the Hurricanes during the offseason, including his thoughts on their goaltending and Carolina's plans involving the No. 2 pick of the 2018 NHL Draft.
How drastically does the roster have to change for the Hurricanes to be successful?
"I think we need to make some changes. We have some players that have been here a long time. We've gone nine years missing the playoffs. I think if there's some change that needs to be made to change up the mix a little bit, the culture, we're certainly going to look at that. We're not in any desperate situation, it's not a fire sale. If every player comes back, that's perfect with us. But I think there's also some opportunities and some players that maybe a fresh change and a fresh team might be good for them, and bring us some assets that we could use."
How close are the Hurricanes to being a playoff team?
"I think if you go back to last year, and I hate to blame it on one position, but we think our goaltending, if it would have been average in the League we definitely would have been in the postseason. You can reflect upon the goalies … it felt like every time we got on a little bit of a roll we didn't get the big game that we needed, so I think that's an area that we really have to address. We have lots of balls in the air right now to address that position."
Can Scott Darling be that guy for you?
"I think Scott's got to prove it to us. He had a very up and down year last year. Don't think he was fully prepared to be a No. 1 guy last year. He knows physically he's got to be in much better shape. He probably played 15 pounds heavier than he did the year before in Chicago. I know he's already starting on a program this summer, he's back in Raleigh here in the next week, he's committed to an offseason workout with our strength and conditioning coach. But he's got to prove it to us now. Nothing is going to be given to him. Hopefully we'll have other guys competing with him for a job. Competition usually is good for everybody."
Will Cam Ward return?
"We're still talking about Cam [Ward can be an unrestricted free agent July 1]. Depending on what we do here, if you look at what Cam's done for the organization, he's had a great career. His numbers were pretty good last year. He was put in some tough situations, and for the most part responded to that role. Great locker room guy, great guy to have around the team, especially a young team. We haven't made the decision yes or no yet. But if everything worked out, it would be nice to have him around."
Video: TBL@CAR: Ward makes a flurry of saves in front
Have you been getting calls from teams interested in the No. 2 pick in the draft?
"I've gotten a lot of calls and what I've told teams is, we're keeping the pick. If you want to present something to me, it's my role as general manager to listen to what you have to say. If someone wants to put a package together that we can't say no to, assets for the organization and where we're headed, we would look at it, but it's going to be very difficult for somebody to get that pick from us."
Do you have a player or position in mind as a target for the No. 2 pick?
"I don't think I'd be giving away anything to say we're looking at the forwards for sure. There's some great defensemen there, but with the four guys we have for sure right now and we've got some young defensemen coming, I think the forwards that are in this draft are game-breakers and game-changers. I think it's no doubt in my mind that it'll be a forward that we pick."
The top three forwards are Barrie's Andrei Svechnikov, Brady Tkachuk of Boston University and Halifax's Filip Zadina. What makes each of them special?
"Certainly all those players bring different qualities. Tkachuk, we all know his dad (forward Keith Tkachuk) played for me [with the Atlanta Thrashers] when we won that division [in 2006-07]. That family, and he's got a brother playing in Calgary [forward Matthew Tkachuk], you know what they're all about. I think everybody would love to have those type of players. Svechnikov scored 40 goals in 44 games; we talk about goal scoring in our League and we're not a high-scoring team, goals are obviously hard to come by, so you've got to look at that. And Zadina, he's an all-around very talented player that played with one of our draft picks, [forward Martin] Necas, two years ago. He's a guy that we're very familiar with. Those three guys we certainly have to do our homework on."
How much does it matter that Zadina and Necas have been successful linemates for the Czech Republic at international tournaments?
"We've talked about it. … It's a factor. How much of a factor, in time we'll know. You get to know the players because now we can ask our player, and obviously he's only got good things to say about him. At the end of the day players will adapt to who they're playing with, and we're going to continue to just make sure that we get the right player."