The Carolina Hurricanes still have a shot at making the playoffs. Well, Sports Club Stats gives them a 0.2% chance of making it anyway. However, those already-minuscule odds are now almost certainly gone. The team announced this afternoon that two key players, defenseman Brett Pesce and center Victor Rask, have been shut down for the season due to shoulder injuries.
Without Pesce and Rask, any semblance of hope that Carolina fans had of ending their league-worst postseason drought this year has evaporated. Pesce, 23, is part of the Hurricanes’ dominant top pair alongside Jaccob Slavin and one of the main reasons why the team allows the fewest shots against in the NHL. Rask, 25, has 31 points and an even rating (anything non-negative is an outlier among ’Canes players this season) and leaves a team that is already shallow down the middle with even fewer options.
In response to this announcement, the team has recalled young defenseman Roland McKeown from the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers. McKeown may be relied on to play a top-six role for the remainder of the year and, if he is successful, could further the narrative that the time has come for the Hurricanes to trade one of their top blue liners. It is likely the first of many call-up’s down the stretch to test out young players in game action ahead of the off-season. Expect the likes of Aleksi Saarela, Janne Kuokkanen, Julien Gauthier, Warren Foegele, and Alex Nedeljkovic to be among the names given a promotion in the coming weeks.