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The Hurricanes 2023-24 Regular Season Awards

Carolina Hurricanes regular season

The Carolina Hurricanes regular season has come and gone with another successful year marked by a hot post-trade deadline run. The team and fans alike have their eyes set on the postseason with the hope that this might be the year they can get over the hump. But as the regular season closes and the playoffs are the next stop, let’s take a look back at some of the individual performances of the regular season and hand out some of the Carolina Hurricanes regular season awards.

The Carolina Hurricanes Regular Season Awards

The Good to Great Award

The Hurricanes appear to have found a true first line heading into the playoffs. Much of that centres around Jake Guentzel coming to the team to flank the Hurricanes top forward Sebastian Aho. But Seth Jarvis on the other wing has been arguably as important to this line as Aho or Guentzel. He receives the “Good to Great Award.”

Jarvis is one of those players who is a ball of energy, isn’t afraid to play physical, and has shown that he has top-end skill. An RFA after this season, Jarvis showed that he was ready to play for his next contract. He moved up and down the lineup and spent considerable time with Jordan Staal and Jordan Martinook. And performed pretty well by giving that line a scoring threat. Last year, Jarvis had 14 goals and 25 assists but no power play goals. A pretty solid year that many thought he could build on. At the beginning of the year, it was realistic to think he could hit 20 goals this year.

But Jarvis said I’ll match your 20 and raise you 13. That’s right, Jarvis finished the season with 33 goals and 34 assists in 81 games. Notably, this included 13 power play goals and 20 power play points. Not only did Jarvis display his skill, but he also played the game the way the Hurricanes play. He was responsible defensively, forechecked hard, and played in all situations. His chemistry with Aho and Guentzel has been incredible but he has shown the team can count on him all over. Jarvis likely has earned a big payday. And the Hurricanes should give it to him. He is arguably their most important offseason contract to address due to his age and play. But for us, he wins the “Good to Great Award.”

The Cornerstone Award

There are many players that could be considered “most important” for the Hurricanes. But when it comes down to having to decide on one, Sebastian Aho is the team’s franchise player. He has been for a few years now and this year was no different. He is the winner of the “Cornerstone Award.”

Aho is another player like Jarvis who plays the game in a way that fits Carolina’s style to a T. A two-way guy with deceptive speed, a high hockey IQ, a good shot and a fierce competitiveness. He’s one of those players who can be a game-changer when the team needs it most. While shooting up the record board for many categories for the franchise, Aho showed that same ability this season. He was the guy the team could most consistently count on to tilt the ice. With ten game-winning goals, none may be more electric to show his clutch ability than his final seconds goal against the Florida Panthers seen below.

And as far as statistics, Aho finished the year with 36 goals and 53 assists in 78 games. His 89 points is a career-best and had Rod Brind’Amour not rested him the last game of the season (which was the right call) he may have hit 90. Regardless, Aho was the leader of this team and wins the “Cornerstone Award.”

The Safety Net(s) Award

Sometimes, teams go through ruts where things just aren’t working. For an NHL team, it might mean a moment when typical go-to players aren’t performing and things just aren’t working. When that happens, good teams typically find production from guys not as normally expected. When the Hurricanes started the season not getting all of the results they wanted or should have, two guys really stepped up for Carolina. Jack Drury and Stefan Noesen share our “Safety Net Award.”

Through the first half of the season, Aho and Jarvis were leading the team in points but Noesen was right there close to third with 25 points through the team’s first 42 games. Drury wasn’t far behind with 18 points and seven goals. But this award doesn’t go to this pair because they were leading the team in points during the first half of the year.

It is more that their on-ice play was holding the team together in depth roles when things just weren’t going so great. They were working hard, going to the net and getting some rewards. While they both cooled down in the second half of the season, it was probably less due to their specific play and more due to the rest of the team catching back up. Had it not been for their early play, Carolina may not have had an easy path to a playoff spot. They co-win our “Safety Net Award.”

The Second Half Star(s) Award

Looking at the converse of what Drury and Noesen did, there were a few guys who started slow but turned it around the second half of the year. Ironically, they both are Russian but play different positions. Dmitry Orlov and Pyotr Kochetkov share this award.

Dmitry Orlov

Orlov came to the Hurricanes as a free agent this year with high expectations. He was seen as a two-way defenceman with decent skating, physicality, a heavy shot, and a free-wielding style to provide creative offence. It took a few different pairing experiments to figure out his best partner but it ultimately landed with Jalen Chatfield. However, early on Orlov seemed to struggle to adjust to Carolina’s system. So much so that many thought his high salary was a waste.

For the first half of the year, he had two goals and 13 assists which isn’t terrible. However, even though it’s not the best stat, he was -5 in that span. But then the back half took off and Orlov ended the year with six goals and 20 assists and was a +4. You could see how his comfort level increased with Chatfield and he started showing how effective he could be. He has a dynamic element to this game that was seen a few times that could be a major factor in the playoffs.

Pyotr Kochetkov

And then for Kochetkov, he, as well as all of Carolina’s active goalies, started the season off frankly brutal. If you take a look a little further back to December 1, 2023, Kochetkov had a .878 SV% and a 2.93 GAA. At that time his goals against were 24 while his expected goals against were 18.07. Things were getting tense in net for Carolina and it looked like they needed help.

But then Kochetkov turned it around. It was like a Christmas miracle and slowly but surely Kochetkov got back into form and became the true starter for Carolina until Frederik Andersen returned (see below). With those struggling statistics to start the season, Kochetkov finished the year with a .911 SV% and a 2.33 GAA. He turned it around in the advanced analytics department as well by only allowing 92 goals against compared to 94.13 expected goals against. Not to mention he led the Hurricanes and was tied for third in the league in shutouts with four. As important as getting Andersen back was, Kochetkov’s resurgence was a big help to the team as well.

Due to both of these players turning their seasons around to become major pieces of this team, they co-win the “Second Half Star Award.”

The Dean Portman Award

The last award of the Carolina Hurricanes regular season awards has us looking at a player who unexpectedly missed a majority of the year. However, he came back with such force that it was arguably as big as Carolina’s acquisition of Guentzel. It is Frederik Andersen winning the “Dean Portman Award.”

There’s a scene from the famous hockey movie “D3: The Mighty Ducks” where one of the team’s “Bash Brothers” Dean Portman makes a miraculous return to the team during the intermission of the movie’s climax game after missing the team’s entire year. A lot of that movie is farfetched including some aspects of Portman’s return. But it gave the team a spark that led them to victory in that game.

For the Hurricanes, Andersen’s return was about as close to a Dean Portman-like return you could get. He started the season with the team and played a few games, having mediocre results at best. But then the team announced that Andersen was dealing with blood clotting issues and would be away indefinitely. The mantra seemed to unofficially be hope for the best, expect the worst. And most thought the team would be marching forward for the rest of the year without Andersen.

But then signs started looking up as he returned to practice and somewhat cryptic reports were released that he might be making a return. Those cryptic reports turned to reality when Andersen made his comeback by starting in net against the Montreal Canadiens on March 7, 2024. It was his first game back since November 2, 2023. He won that game by only allowing one goal on 25 shots. And he never looked back. Since his return in March, Andersen went 9-1-0 with a .951 SV% and a 1.30 GAA. The only game he let in more than two goals was his sole loss against the Boston Bruins. He also had three shutouts in those ten games. It was truly an amazing performance as he solidified his role as the team’s starter for the playoffs.

It wasn’t just impressive that he came back after what seemed like a season-ender. He came back with vengeance and brought the team a stable presence in net. That combined with Kochetkov’s improved play and a reliable number three in Spencer Martin has Carolina feeling pretty good about their goaltending situation. And Andersen is the winner of the “Dean Portman Award.”

Appreciating Where They Have Been But Looking Forward and Not in Reverse

While these superlatives showed something special this season, any of them would likely tell you they care less about the individual awards and more about the team results. And all of them have their eyes set on the big prize – the Stanley Cup.

Of course, there are other players who may have been worth noting. Jaccob Slavin is always a rock on defence, Martin Necas showed some serious skill at times, Andrei Svechnikov had some hot moments even though he suffered some injury trouble, and Teuvo Teravainen had a great season in the goal-scoring department.

But the individuals mentioned above did enough to get at least this writer’s nod for doing something noteworthy during the regular season in the Carolina Hurricanes regular season awards. And now let’s look forward to Round One against the New York Islanders (again).

Main Photo Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports


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