4. Scott Darling
It seems like the Carolina Hurricanes are always looking for goalie help, dating back to since Cam Ward won the Conn Smythe in 2006. And practically as soon as the most recent offseason began, they took what they thought was a huge step in that direction by trading for and then signing Scott Darling away from the always-contending Chicago Blackhawks.
But a funny thing happened on the way to stability — Darling has had an awful season, posting 13 wins, a sub-.900 save percentage and a nasty 3.15 goals-against average. He doesn’t really have injuries to blame (although no one would fault him if he blamed the underperforming Hurricanes in front of him), but the fact of the matter is that Carolina had to turn back at points during the season to the aging Ward for their goaltending needs, which is not ideal when you’re trying to get momentum rolling for a club long seen to have potential but regularly failing to deliver on it.
Darling will be counted on to step it up pronto, as he still has three years left on his $16.6 million deal. Can Darling prove he’s a legit No. 1 NHL goalie? Will he be traded in the offseason? Questions abounded before the season started as to whether he would establish himself as a go-to guy without Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith and Joel Quenneville’s system in front of him. Those same questions swirl around Darling as the season comes to a close.