Forgotten but not gone Canes prospects — Roland McKeown and Eetu Makiniemi

Forgotten but not gone Canes prospects — Roland McKeown and Eetu Makiniemi

After the departure of multiple AHL veterans following the Charlotte Checkers’ Calder Cup Championship, there is a sizable list of gone but not forgotten former Canes veteran AHLers. That list grew during the past season with a number of more prospect category players traded around the 2020 NHL trade deadline. With the next wave of prospects including a haul from the 2019 NHL Draft yet to arrive at the professional ranks in the AHL, current AHL group which is still being assembled has seen massive turnover. But today’s Daily Cup of Joe actually looks at the flipside  of a couple Canes prospects who are maybe forgotten but not actually gone.   Roland McKeown With the core of the Canes blue line set with young players and the team’s propensity to still add NHL level defensemen to go five or six deep with players who are at least borderline top 4 defensemen, it has been hard for prospects to garner NHL ice time. Most notable in this group is first-rounder Jake Bean who has won awards and accolades for his play at the AHL level but still not really received an NHL audition. That figures to change in 2020-21. But nowhere on the depth chart these days is Roland McKeown who seemingly has also earned at least a shot at the NHL level. The negative on McKeown is probably that his ceiling is fairly low compared to Bean. McKeown does not have the skating ability or offensive upside as Bean, and I have always believed that his ceiling was probably that of a third pairing defenseman. But there are two...
Detailing the Carolina Hurricanes salary cap situation for 2020-21

Detailing the Carolina Hurricanes salary cap situation for 2020-21

Not too long ago I wrote about the Hurricanes salary cap situation for 2020-21 and 2021-22. The upshot was that the Hurricanes had a bit of wiggle room for 2020-21 but needed to maintain some cushion for 2021-22 when Andrei Svechnikov’s next contract will pressure the math. With Jesper Fast now in the mix, today’s Daily Cup of Joe takes a deeper dive into the 2020-21 salary cap situation and a couple nuances that could affect the roster.   The basics and then adjustments CapFriendly shows the Hurricanes with $5.1 million of salary cap space remaining. That does not include Haydn Fleury and Warren Foegele who are both restricted free agents who filed for arbitration. Most likely both get signed before arbitration. My rough estimate is $1.8 million for Warren Foegele and $1.6 million for Haydn Fleury on one-year deals. The price would rise a bit if either is signed to more term, but let’s baseline the pair at $3.4 million. In addition, Alex Nedeljkovic is no longer waiver-exempt, so if the Hurricanes try to send him to the AHL, he could be lost for nothing in return. Because of that, Nedeljkovic almost certainly stays at the NHL level adding another $737,500. Further, CapFriendly currently has Morgan Geekie ($763,333) and Jake Bean ($863,333) below the NHL level. Both players are waiver-exempt and could be sent to the AHL, but both players figure to slot at the NHL level for the 2020-21 season. But the CapFriendly tally also includes Joakim Ryan ($700,000) who figures to start the season at the AHL level if the Hurricanes blue line is healthy. With...
Random Canes thoughts — Alex Nedeljkovic and Ryan Dzingel/Nino Niederreiter

Random Canes thoughts — Alex Nedeljkovic and Ryan Dzingel/Nino Niederreiter

Today’s Daily Cup of Joe offers a random set of unrelated Canes thoughts/notes.   1) The importance of Alex Nedeljkovic for 2021-22 Most of the Canes discussion around goaltending right now (including from me) is whether or not there could be a meaningful upgrade from Petr Mrazek and James Reimer. I am on record as thinking that the duo is at least good enough, but at the same time, I would at least consider trying to find an upgrade in the craziest of all off-seasons for the goalie version of musical chairs. But sitting in the background of it all is Alex Nedeljkovic. He has draft pedigree. He has a history of playing some of his best hockey at lower levels in the biggest games. And he has mastered the AHL. There is absolutely no guarantee of a successful transition to the NHL based on play at lower levels; the position can be humbling even for promising prospects. But if there is a set of boxes to be checked to at least garner a a reasonable audition at the NHL level, Nedeljkovic has checked them all. Past just deserving a chance, he has the potential to play a critical role in building the 2021-22 Carolina Hurricanes. The team will manage to squeeze under the salary cap limbo pole for the 2020-21 season, but that will be more challenging next year with Andrei Svechnikov’s new contract that could add literally $7 million to the team’s cap spending. Factor in a next contract for Dougie Hamilton and the math gets tough. In net, Reimer and Mrazek who total $6.6 million in...
Where has all the forward depth gone?

Where has all the forward depth gone?

Over the past few years, the Carolina Hurricanes have become a prospect pool darling for those who rate prospects and the NHL draft. The Hurricanes have young forwards Andrei Svechnikov and Martin Necas already at the NHL level. Sebastian Aho is still young in his own right. And the team has its next batch of forwards from the past couple well-rated drafts on the way. Based on that, one might assume that the Hurricanes are deep at forward. While that could well prove to be true out a couple years, the team is actually pretty light on NHL-ready forward depth right now.   The 2019-20 exodus Morgan Geekie pushed up to the NHL level and stuck, but at the same time the team mostly cleared out the group of players on the brink of the NHL during the 2020-21. Nicolas Roy was dealt before the season started. Fringe NHLers Phil Di Giuseppe and Greg McKegg left via free agency as did veteran AHLers Patrick Brown, Tomas Jurco and Andrew Poturalski. Then midway through the 2019-20 season, the Hurricanes dealt away more potential depth in Julien Gauthier, Janne Kuokkanen, Eetu Luostarinen and Lucas Wallmark. Some turnover especially with the older AHLers whose ceiling is that of deep NHL depth is the norm, but in losing so many players, the Hurricanes are actually a bit short on ready depth until the next wave of prospects develops over the next couple years.   What is left? This situation is why adding Jesper Fast or someone else was actually more of a need than a nice to have. With Fast added and Justin...
The case for Marc-Andre Fleury and more generally trying to creatively find a real difference-maker

The case for Marc-Andre Fleury and more generally trying to creatively find a real difference-maker

Now four days into the NHL free agency period, the picture for teams’ rosters is gradually becoming clearer. In addition, the list of available options who could yield a difference-maker is gradually shrinking. The past day and a half has seen high-end scoring forward Taylor Hall and top defenseman Alex Pietrangelo come off the board. The goalie market has also shrunk considerably with Braden Holtby, Jacob Markstrom, Henrik Lundqvist, Cam Talbot, Anton Khudobin, Corey Crawford, Matt Murray and Thomas Greiss coming off the board. As far as the Hurricanes go, the Pietrangelo deal and the goalie market in general could be relevant  — IF the Hurricanes have an interest in Marc-Andre Fleury.   Seeking difference-makers When a team reaches the point where it is in the top half of the NHL and likely even if not certain to make the playoffs, improving becomes more difficult. Whereas it could have been possibly to fairly easily upgrade 8-10 slots on the Hurricanes teams from 5-6 years ago, that is no longer the case anymore. And trying to improve via outside help becomes even more difficult with salary cap constraints.   2020 Tampa Bay Lightning Some might argue that the 2020 Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning won the Cup by virtue of the talent that they have had in the lineup for multiple years now. No doubt that played a leading role in the championship. But after being de-pantsed by the Columbus Blue Jackets in four games in the 2019 NHL Playoffs, the Lightning a concerted effort to become tougher to play against in adding Patrick Maroon, Blake Coleman and Barclay...