4:43 p.m. — As expected, the Carolina Hurricanes announced they have recalled Forsberg and Nedeljkovic from Charlotte.
11:11 a.m. — Last night’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs was nothing short of a once-in-a-lifetime event for the Carolina Hurricanes. The contest could not have gotten off to a worse start, with starter James Reimer being forced out of the game just six minutes in to the first period following a collision in net. Petr Mrazek entered the game in relief, but allowed a goal late in the period to give the Leafs a 1-0 lead. Things were looking up in the second frame following three Hurricanes goals, but then Mrazek was injured just over halfway through the period. This forced the team to turn to an emergency backup, 42-year-old Zamboni driver David Ayres, an employee of Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment who had not played in a competitive game for more than five years. Yet, Ayres got the job done, allowing only two goals in nearly half a game (with some help from the team allowing just ten shots) to lead the Hurricanes to a 6-3 win.
While this was of course a tremendous story, the reality now sets in that the Hurricanes are now down both of their NHL goaltenders without any timeline yet as to when they may return to action. The timing of this is poor, seeing as tomorrow is the final day to make a trade this season and there is no time to wait for an official word on Mrazek or Reimer. The team is also in the thick of the Eastern Conference wild card race and can’t afford to take a chance in goal and miss out on potential points.
For now, TSN’s Pierre LeBurn reports that the team plans to recall both Anton Forsberg and Alex Nedeljkovic from the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers today. Fortunately, both netminders have seen plenty of ice time this season, spitting appearances 50/50, and have performed relatively well. If asked to take on some NHL starts, either one could fair well enough. Forsberg is a veteran of 45 NHL games, while Nedeljkovic has fared well in his two NHL appearances and was arguably the best goalie in the AHL last season.
However, if there is any suspicion that both Mrazek and Reimer could be out long term, it seems unlikely that Carolina would be comfortable fighting for a playoff spot and entering the postseason with only Forsberg and Nedeljkovic. For that reason, LeBrun adds that a number of teams have already reached out to the Hurricanes about moving a goalie and it seems likely that the team could make a move. In fact, the team was kicking the tires on adding another goalie even before these injuries, so many conversations have already been had. Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reports that the teams main focus is on Chicago Blackhawks’ keepers Robin Lehner and Corey Crawford, both impending free agents, while other rental options could include veterans Jimmy Howard, Craig Anderson, or Ryan Miller or available backups like Aaron Dell or Louis Domingue.
One way or another, the names in net are about to change for Carolina. Perhaps it will only be short-term while their current duo heal up or maybe it could be a major long-term addition for the rest of the season and a hopeful playoff run. With the team also needing a replacement on the blue line given the injuries to Dougie Hamilton and Brett Pesce and also rumored to be in on several big-name forwards, including the Rangers’ Chris Kreider, the next 27 hours should be very busy for the Hurricanes.