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It’s getting close to decision time for the Carolina Hurricanes

Hurricanes Maple Leafs Hockey

Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier (45) makes a pad save against Carolina Hurricanes center Eric Staal (12) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016, in Toronto. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)


The Carolina Hurricanes’ slim playoff hopes got even slimmer last night with a 3-1 loss in Toronto.

According to Sports Club Stats, their postseason chances have fallen to just 14.0 percent. They still have two games left before Monday’s trade deadline -- tonight against the Bruins and Sunday versus the Blues -- but losing to the lowly Leafs was a tough one to take.

“It doesn’t matter where they are in the standings,” defenseman John-Michael Liles told reporters. “We got outplayed pretty well in the first period and we didn’t get our legs under us until probably the second and it ended up costing us.”

Captain Eric Staal tops the list of Carolina trade candidates, but there’s also Liles and forward Kris Versteeg on expiring contracts.

“It’s obviously a tough time for Eric,” Eric’s brother/teammate, Jordan, told the Globe and Mail prior to last night’s loss. “It is part of the business, but we want to make the playoffs. We’re trying to push for that. That’s been my goal.”

Versteeg and Eric Staal are fifth and sixth in Hurricanes scoring with 33 and 32 points, respectively. If they’re traded, the club’s chances of making the playoffs would fall to just above nil.

Granted, in the long run, that may be for the best. The ‘Canes have some fine prospects to go with 23-year-old Justin Faulk, whose 15 goals are tied for third among all NHL d-men. Another good draft this summer and they could really set up a winning future. Remember, they already have two first-round picks -- theirs and, thanks to last year’s Andrej Sekera trade, the Kings’ as well.

Related: Staal won’t be ‘crushed’ if he’s traded