Crunching the numbers
The Hurricanes sit today at 33-27-5, effectively two points out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They hope Wednesday's trade for Erik Cole will help them close the gap. A little statistical analysis shows what a tall order it's going to be.
As things stand now, 92 points looks like it would get the Canes into the playoffs. To guarantee it, sportsclubstats says the Canes would have to get to 95, although 94 and 93 should do it.
Let's stick with 92 for now, ironically the same total they had last year that fell short. To get there, they'll have to go 10-6-1 the rest of the way. That's an improvement of 0.145 points per game, or about 11 over the course of a full season.
For purposes of comparison, the Peter Laviolette-for-Paul Maurice coaching change has accounted for an improvement of about six points over the course of a full season, so the Cole trade is going to have to have twice the impact of the coaching change, in a much shorter time period, to get the Canes into the playoffs.
(Not sure whether that indicates how much work the Canes have ahead of them, or how little impact the coaching change had. Debate amongst yourselves.)