Avoiding contract pitfalls

Avoiding contract pitfalls

When people evaluate general managers, the focus is most often on players added and how they have worked out. Less front and center is evaluating moves to either intentionally let players go or players lost unintentionally. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe takes a brief step away from the here and now of the current season and offers a less common but in my opinion important evaluation point for Canes management. Cutting the chase, the returns are early and not final, but the Hurricanes have been incredibly good at making decisions to part ways with players. Consider the track record below since Don Waddell took over as General Manager.   Jeff Skinner Arguably the biggest and most controversial move made in the past couple years was to part ways with Jeff Skinner prior to his contract ending despite getting very little in return because of Skinner’s leverage with a full no-trade clause. Skinner was an elite offensive player pretty much from day one as an 18-year old rookie, but even years later he never really rounded out his game past putting the puck in the net. He was a plus player at even strength by a modest three-goal margin in his rookie season, but in nine seasons since then, his team has never outscored the opponent with him on the ice at even strength. His trade was a controversial one because he was an affable fan favorite and also because the Hurricanes received very little in return for him. As I said on Twitter recently, the win in that trade was avoiding Skinner’s next contract. He hit the ground running...
Gm2 @Det: Sloppy game dooms Canes in 4-2 loss to the Red Wings

Gm2 @Det: Sloppy game dooms Canes in 4-2 loss to the Red Wings

After what was mostly a good game in a season-opening win against the Red Wings, the second game of the set was a step backwards for the Hurricanes. The first two periods were rough to say the least. I think the root cause of all that failed the Hurricanes through two periods and in general the game was just sloppiness. The game very much looked like the bad version of a fairly common preseason game where the ability to move the puck from stick to stick just was not there. The result was mostly a disjointed effort to move the puck out of the defensive zone or through the neutral zone with any pace or cohesion.   Skjei/Pesce Brett Pesce and Brady Skjei generally defended okay in their own end, but the two seem to be out of sync in terms of know where to be and how to support each other when the other has the puck. Skjei has multiple times eaten pucks on the boards behind the net in the defensive zone. And Pesce has uncharacteristically been using risky outlets to get the puck moving north/south including a turnover to the middle of the ice on Saturday.   Fleury/Gardiner After a generally solid game on Thursday, Jake Gardiner and Haydn Fleury had a tough night on Saturday. The Red Wings first goal saw both of them sort of in the right place to defend a pass from behind the end line to right between the circles. But both seemed a bit lost in terms of taking away the passing lane to the front of the net that...
‘What I’m watching’ — Gm2 @Det: And so IT (COVID season 2020-21) begins

‘What I’m watching’ — Gm2 @Det: And so IT (COVID season 2020-21) begins

The latest news heading into the second of two games against the Detroit Red Wings is that Jordan Staal is out of the lineup in COVID protocol. Here is hoping that Jordan is healthy and back soon. Every time this happens, it will feel like waiting for the other shoe to drop seeing if the Canes situation goes the same route as the Dallas Stars who are now scheduled to start their season on January 22 after a delay because 17 players tested positive. The most immediate effect of Jordan Staal being out of the lineup will likely be that Morgan Geekie draws into the lineup. Coming out of the 3-0 win over the Red Wings on Thursday, the Hurricanes are mostly looking for more of the same. The game was tight well into it, but I still think the Hurricanes had the upper hand by enough. A bounce here or there, and the score would have been 3-0 earlier in a game in which the Hurricanes out-shot and out-chanced the Red Wings by a significant margin. The biggest thing is collecting the two points, but still early in the season, it is also a good opportunity to continue evaluating the Hurricanes players and combinations. My watch points for Saturday night’s match up follow.   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Detroit Red Wings 1) Top of the lineup The Hurricanes first line of Niederreiter/Aho/Teravainen was very good on Thursday and could easily have collected more points. Aho and Teravainen were great at both ends of the ice, and Niederreiter got his 2020-21 season off to...
First impressions

First impressions

Piggy-backing on my game recap article, today’s Daily Cup of Joe offers some quick hitter first impressions after the season opener. I generally liked the defense pairings and would push forward with those for some time. Petr Mrazek looked sharp. He was not tested a ton, but seemed to be tracking the puck well and did have to make a couple tricky saves with no margin for error. Jesper Fast reminds me of Joakim Nordstrom in his constant to effort to engage the puck defensively and often run into opponents as part of the process. I continue to think he would fit well next to Staal on a purpose-built checking line. Brady Skjei brings a big hit potential that the Canes do not generally get from the rest of the defense (though Fleury showed some flashes of this late in the 2019-20 season). Though they only collected a lone assist each, I really liked Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen‘s first game. Both played with pace and were decisive in taking nearly every opportunity to get the puck to the front of the net. Vincent Trocheck‘s first game was a mixed bag. By no means was he horrible, but his line was held off the score sheet and did not generate a ton of medium or better chances despite Trocheck’s five shots on net. I continue to think that Jordan Martinook is far more effective on the wing where he can just pin his ears back a bit and bang bodies. I think the team maybe loses more than Brind’Amour realizes with Geekie out of the lineup because Geekie is...
Gm1 @Det: Canes and Petr Mrazek grind out 3-0 win over Detroit to start 2020-21 season

Gm1 @Det: Canes and Petr Mrazek grind out 3-0 win over Detroit to start 2020-21 season

In the team’s 2020-21 season opener, the Hurricanes won by a 3-0 margin that overestimated how safe the game was pretty late into the game but maybe actually matches the level of play. By no means did the Hurricanes have an easy time with the Red Wings. The Wings forecheck created problems intermittently, and aside from Aho’s line, the Canes chances were fairly limited. But in a shortened season where getting points early matters even more, the game was an acceptable start with two points in the standings and a number of positives. Rather than writing a recap, here are thoughts and evaluations of the game in bullet point format. Aho’s line!!! Not  counting the empty-netter by Svechnikov with part of that group on the ice, the trio of Aho, Teravainen and Niederreiter were easily the Canes best. Niederreiter generally had a strong game doing what he needs to do. He did some work winning pucks when he needed to and otherwise spent a ton of time between the face-off circles waiting for the puck to show up. His goal was a pretty one getting the goalie to move a bit and then exploiting the small opening just created. He could have had a hat trick with a couple other chances and a couple other pucks that nearly found him near the crease, but the fact that he was active and did score is a positive first step for the season. Aho and Teravainen who was unusually trigger happy (in a good way) also had strong games.   Little else offensively The downside was that there was little else...