This article is part of our From the Press Box series.
The fact that the Carolina Hurricanes have been hanging around the fringes of the Eastern Conference playoff race through the first half of this season is quite a surprise. Preseason expectations almost unanimously had them challenging for the lowest rungs of the NHL standings.
The current rankings show the Hurricanes with 48 points in 47 games, placing them 13th in the East, but within nine points of the second-place Florida Panthers. That speaks volumes about how tight this playoff race is at the moment. For Carolina, this poses a dilemma. They've missed the playoffs in each of the last six seasons. As a result, their current proximity to a postseason berth is a much-needed boost to the fan base.
On the flip side, veteran names from their roster have long been rumored as trade bait, and the deadline is looming.
The decision to end their playoff pursuit may have bee made easier this week, when Cam Ward was diagnosed with concussion issues that could keep him out for an extended stretch. The unfortunate aspect of this development is that Ward is in the final year of a long-term deal that carries an annual cap hit of $6 million. With the Hurricanes originally projecting to be sellers at the deadline, Ward figured to be a desirable player on the trade block so that Eddie Lack (who's under contract for the next two seasons for a total of $5.5 million) could step in as the starter. Now Ward could be an untradeable