Reasons for and against signing Canes free agents – The forwards

Reasons for and against signing Canes free agents – The forwards

Today’s Daily Cup of Joe takes both sides of the Canes free agent re-signing situations starting with the forwards.   Vincent Trocheck For: He is a bona fide second line center. Replacing with a comparable player via free agency usually means overpaying for an older player. Unless the Canes can pull off a trade for a younger player on a favorable contract, I do not see how this hole would be filled by anyone comparable for less money. If the Canes were rebuilding, auditioning both Kotkaniemi and Necas in this slot would be interesting. But for a team in ‘win now’ mold, leaving this slot for one or both of them would be a low odds dice roll on two players who had ‘meh’ or worse 2021-22 regular seasons and then were completely invisible in the playoffs. Against: If he is not willing to take a hometown discount and/or shorter term, these maximum UFA contracts for 29 year olds are always incredibly risky and nearly always have some bad years. So the mathematically bad risk/reward balance longer-term is in nearly all cases a reason to pass. Where I land: If Trocheck will take five years and something a little less than maximum salary, I would re-sign him simply just because I am skeptical how the team could replace him.   Martin Necas For: Despite a ‘meh’ regular season that did not yield as much growth as hoped and an even worse playoffs where he was a non-factor over 14 games, Necas still has upside as a 23-year old who has the mobility for today’s NHL and enough skill to...
Chicago Wolves on the rise — Building the Carolina Hurricanes 2022-23 roster

Chicago Wolves on the rise — Building the Carolina Hurricanes 2022-23 roster

Yesterday, the Chicago Wolves won the Calder Cup making it consecutive AHL championships for the Canes’ AHL affiliate. With the continued success at the AHL level, one would logically ask which Wolves players would be likely candidates for the 2022-23 Carolina Hurricanes roster. That is the subject of today’s Daily Cup of Joe. (Note that I am skipping any commentary on the latest Hockey Hall of Fame balloting that again excluded Rod Brind’Amour because I am mostly just done with it.) As the highest level of North American hockey below the NHL, AHL teams are a weird mix of young players in their early 20s who have yet to make the NHL but figure to be headed in that direction and players 5-10 years older who can loosely be categorized as veteran AHLers who are hoping to claw their way up into the NHL a bit later in their career. Not all players sort cleanly into one category or the other, but I will address the players in those two general categories and add a third for ‘tweeners’ who are maybe right in the middle.   Up and comers Jack Drury Top of the list is Jack Drury who impressed with a strong NHL preseason, had a solid AHL regular season and then did even better notching 24 points in 18 games in the AHL playoffs. As a player with strong two-way chops, he slots into an NHL lineup with less downside risk than a boom or bust skilled scorer who is less-developed defensively. As such, I would expect Drury to enter the fall training camp penciled into an...
Carolina Hurricanes free agents to be — Forwards

Carolina Hurricanes free agents to be — Forwards

With the 2022 Stanley Cup Finals starting on Wednesday night, the off-season is quickly approaching. Despite making three consecutive playoff appearances, the 2022 off-season was a whirlwind for the Canes who replaced both goalies and even the #3 goalie, brought in four new defensemen and also swapped in three new forwards. When the dust settled half of the roster had changed over. Though the volume could be slightly less for the upcoming off-season, the moves could be even more tumultuous with more top half of the roster players in play. My hope is to work through each player in more detail later, but today’s Daily Cup of Joe cuts to the chase and offers quick-hitter thoughts on each Canes free agent.   Goalies None. Both Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta signed two-year deals last summer, so the team is set to stand pat in net. With Andersen having a strong regular season, Raanta generally playing well in the playoffs and Pyotr Kochetkov looking promising in his partial season in North America, I would expect the Canes to stand pat in net.   Forwards Vincent Trocheck After what I thought was a slow start in a Hurricanes uniform, Vincent Trocheck has settled in and become a solid second line center. He is consistent in terms of energy level and his always leaning forward, aggressive style is a perfect fit for how Brind’Amour wants to play. His 21 goals and 51 points in 81 games in 2021-22 was a modest step down but still decent production from the C2 slot. My only question mark on him is if he can be...
By position: Looking back at 2021-22 and forward to 2022-23 — Forwards

By position: Looking back at 2021-22 and forward to 2022-23 — Forwards

Yesterday’s Daily Cup of Joe was part 1 of 2 looking back at 2021-22 and then forward to 2022-23. If you missed it, you can find the first part that covered the goalie and defensemen HERE. Part 2 continues by looking at the forwards.   The structure of the Hurricanes lineup With the odd exception of the 2020-21 season when Jordan Staal seemingly went down to the crossroads and sold his soul for a year of high-end scoring, the Hurricanes have for a couple years been trying to build a lineup that features two higher-end scoring lines and a third line that leans toward checking. That formula works more easily for a team that has an elite scoring line at the top of the lineup. The Bruins from a few years past made this formula work pretty well. But without an elite scoring first line, the margin for error for getting enough offense from a balanced attack can be challenging. The Hurricanes have generally been able to accomplish this during the regular season with a system that generates chances across all four lines when clicking and/or preying on weaker opponents. But the inability to find enough sources of goal scoring to make balanced work has played a role in recent playoff exits including the 2022 NHL Playoffs. For balanced to work, especially with a third line that is built to be a bit scoring light, the Hurricanes really need to get decent or better goal scoring from all six of the players on the top two lines.   The 2022 NHL playoffs Entering the playoffs, I mostly had Aho,...
By position: Looking back at 2021-22 and forward to 2022-23 — Goalies and defensemen

By position: Looking back at 2021-22 and forward to 2022-23 — Goalies and defensemen

Today’s Daily Cup of Joe will be part of 1 of 2 or possibly 3 going player by player both looking back at the 2021-22 season and forward to building the roster for the 2022-23 season.   Goalies Coming off three consecutive playoff seasons and even modest playoff success with four series wins, cutting lose all three goalies and replacing them with a completely new group is not the norm. But that is the route the Canes made following the 2021-22 season when they let Petr Mrazek and James Reimer leave via free agency and trading up and comer Alex Nedeljkovic, and replaced them with free agents Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta at the NHL level and adding Alex Lyon as a #3 at the AHL level. That transition was generally successful. Driven by recency bias, some might point to Raanta’s poor play in the game 6 loss to the Rangers and that he was the starter in the ugly game 7 loss. But looking bigger picture, Raanta played well in the playoffs except for game 6 versus the Rangers. Even in the lopsided road losses versus the Bruins, Raanta was much more a victim playing behind a rough night for the skaters than a cause of the outcome. And in game 7, Raanta maybe could have made a big save or two to hold the fort longer, but at the end of the day the Rangers were better by a wide margin in game 7, and it was not a game that one can pin on Raanta. During the regular season, Frederik Andersen was Vezina finalist level for...