The Carolina Hurricanes, currently sitting in second place in the entire NHL, are about to get a pretty impressive reinforcement. Max Pacioretty has been activated from the season-opening injured reserve, with Ondrej Kase moving to long-term injured reserve to make room. Pacioretty is coming back from offseason surgery to repair a torn Achilles, and will be making his Hurricanes debut whenever head coach Rod Brind’Amour inserts him into the lineup.
It is a rather incredible return, given Pacioretty’s surgery didn’t take place until August 10. That means he was out for less than five months after originally being given a six-month timeline. The 34-year-old winger was acquired from the Vegas Golden Knights along with Dylan Coughlan in a salary dump last offseason, with the Hurricanes sending back nothing but future considerations.
Carolina assumed all of Pacioretty’s $7MM cap hit for this season, the last in his four-year $28MM deal signed with Vegas in 2018. One of the most consistent goal scorers of his generation, he could potentially be a difference-maker for the Hurricanes for the rest of the year. Pacioretty has topped 30 goals six times in his career, and combined for 43 in 87 games over the last two shortened seasons.
Even if he can’t get back to 100 percent of his former self, he’s joining a group in Carolina that is already poised to contend for a Stanley Cup. Pacioretty was skating with Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Derek Stepan today at practice.
For Kase, it does not appear as though there was a setback, but his placement on LTIR opens the room to fit Pacioretty under the cap. The veteran forward has been skating with the team in a non-contact jersey of late, though there is no clear timeline for his return from another concussion.