Williams returns to Carolina and adds depth to forward corps

Justin Williams doesn’t address their needs at center, but if the Canes can use their depth  to create match-up problems, perhaps they can get back to the post-season for the first time since 2009.

There’s no place like home. Justin ‘Mr. Game 7’ Williams is returning to Carolina, where he won the first of his three Stanley Cups, on a two-year deal that will pay the right winger an average of $4.5 million per season.

“We said that we needed goal scoring and veteran leadership, and Justin will bring us both,” said GM Ron Francis. “He believes in what we are doing here and is returning to Raleigh to help the Hurricanes take the next step.”

Indeed, the Hurricanes have built up a scrappy young team under Francis and the strength rests on the back end. The young blueline, which features Justin Faulk, Brett Pesce, Jaccob Slavin and Noah Hanifin, among others, are primed to be a force next season. There are some nice weapons up front, but Williams will help a crew headlined by Jeff Skinner, Sebastian Aho and veteran Jordan Staal.

Now, will Williams help the fact Carolina doesn’t have a true No. 1 center? Unfortunately, no. But if the Canes can use their depth up front to create match-up problems, then perhaps they can get back to the post-season for the first time since 2009. Should the Canes make it, they’ll go in with the confidence of having ‘Mr. Game 7’ on their side, a player who has consistently proven to be a playoff performer and a dangerous offensive force when the pressure is turned up.

In a greater sense, Williams also brings a nice bit of culture back to the team. He’s a link to Carolina’s finest campaign ever (the 2006 Cup title) and brings another ring to a rising team that has past winners such as Staal, Teuvo Teravainen and Cam Ward already in the fold.

The Hurricanes don’t quite look like contenders yet, but they added a nice piece in Williams, and one they know is already beloved in Carolina.