Carolina Hurricanes tough decisions and early thoughts

Carolina Hurricanes tough decisions and early thoughts

Today’s Daily Cup of Joe takes a break from the more formal series building the 2019-20 Carolina Hurricanes roster but stays mostly on the same topic identifying some difficult choices and offering early reactions.   Justin Faulk His current contract is up after the 2019-20 season which puts him in a similar position to where Jeff Skinner was last summer. Ideally, the time is now to either re-sign Faulk or instead try to net a return for him probably in the form of a scoring forward. Faulk made a good case for staying longer-term with a much-improved 2018-19 season, but that might only have boosted his trade value and his asking price for his next contract. Early thoughts: While I do think there is a legitimate case for re-signing Faulk and maintaining the blue line depth, my leaning is to sell high on Faulk. He will be 28 years old when his next contract starts and would push to 32 years old even if he settled for a relatively short four-year deal. That is not ancient by NHL standards, but as a player who in my opinion has straddled the mobility line already, I just think the risk is higher than the reward if his next contract clocks in higher than his current $5.9 million yearly salary.   Micheal Ferland All seems to be quiet on the western front with regard to Micheal Ferland which suggests he will test free agency. The burning question for me with Ferland is what the salary and term are. I would not be willing to pony up Tom Wilson type money, and I...
Building the 2019-20 Carolina Hurricanes – Part 2: The risks for downside

Building the 2019-20 Carolina Hurricanes – Part 2: The risks for downside

Yesterday’s Daily Cup of Joe kicked off what will be a meandering series entitled, “Building the 2019-20 Carolina Hurricanes.” That first article considered the 2018-19 season as a starting point. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe continues on a similar path and considers the risks for downside that could see the team go from playoff darling to back on the outside looking in.   Goaltending The Hurricanes entered the 2018-19 season with two sizable question marks in goal. The starting tandem included reclamation project Scott Darling and other goalie looking for a rebound in Petr Mrazek. In a bizarre twist of fate, the Hurricanes caught arguably their biggest break of the season when Scott Darling was injured late in training camp, and the team was forced to reach to the waiver wire for veteran Curtis McElhinney. At the time, Mrazek was off to a slow start. McElhinney stepped in and provided a calming and stabilizing presence when the team was teetering on the brink of early playoff elimination. That foundation charted a course upward that saw the Hurricanes receive above average goaltending for the first time in years. When a team is successful, there are always multiple contributing factors, but I think that strong goaltending was near the top of the list for the 2018-19 season. With Darling likely set to be bought out, and Mrazek and McElhinney scheduled to become free agents, the Hurricanes do not actually have a goalie under contract right now. Alex Nedeljkovic who is a restricted free agent will certainly be in the picture, but the team has decisions to make past that. If goaltending...
Building the 2019-20 Carolina Hurricanes – Part 1: Considering the 2018-19 season

Building the 2019-20 Carolina Hurricanes – Part 1: Considering the 2018-19 season

With only one game remaining in the 2018-19 season and the draft weekend frenzy quickly approaching, today’s Daily Cup of Joe is part 1 of how ??? for building the 2019-20 Carolina Hurricanes. Part 1 considers the 2018-19 season as a starting point.   Massive gains made in transforming the culture and attitude When Rod Brind’Amour was hired, there were questions about his lack of head coaching experience and his readiness, but arguably the greatest potential upside was the potential for him to transform a culture that had become steeped in losing. Whenever the team pushed up close to the playoffs, it seemed to trigger an immediate bounce back. And they team just seemed to always find new ways to be close but not good enough. The single biggest gain made during the 2018-19 season was pushing over the hump and into the playoffs such that a young group could learn how it felt, what it took and what was required to achieve that. There are no guarantees going forward, but the young group now knows the commitment level and attitude that it takes to be successful in the NHL. Driving that change was a change in leadership and personnel. The 2018-19 roster featured a huge overhaul in terms of personnel and maybe most significantly a new captain in Justin Williams. As of right now, Williams is still an unknown for next season, but his stamp has already been placed on the franchise and roster. Combined with the influx of new players, the team really did have a different vibe and attitude last season. Though I do believe that...
Elite (or close) skills for Canes players

Elite (or close) skills for Canes players

Today’s Daily Cup of Joe goes off on a bit of a tangent naming specific skills for Canes players that are near elite or close.   Jordan Staal He is as good as anyone at winning 40/60 pucks (more or less 50/50-ish pucks where the other player has a small head start or advantage in winning it). Staal is so incredibly good at using his size, strength and reach to tie players up on the way to the puck or just after he gets it to sort of restart the battle which very often is one that Staal wins. A second area where Staal is incredibly good is being able to advance pucks by himself out of the defensive zone to gain the offensive blue line still with control. That ability amazes me sometimes because Staal is not lightning fast which would seem to be a key ingredient for that skill. Instead he utilizes some combination of is size/strength/reach, vision and shifty skating ability to navigate the middle of the rink protecting the puck.   Jordan Martinook Martinook has an uncanny sense for knowing what the team needs both on the ice and off the ice. On the ice, he seemed without fail to understand when the team was maybe coming off a flat effort and needed a bit of a spark and sure enough Martinook was always physical and dialed up early in these games to help get everyone going. Off the ice, he even more so possesses a gift for sensing whta the team in total or individuals need. Martinook was at the forefront adopting Andrei Svechnikov...
Random Canes comments on Haydn Fleury and team chemistry

Random Canes comments on Haydn Fleury and team chemistry

Today’s Daily Cup of Joe offers a small collection of random Canes comments, most of which play into the off-season work to build the 2019-20 roster.   Haydn Fleury Fleury is at an interest crossroads. He has not developed to become a top half of the roster player as hoped when he was drafted. But he has become a serviceable depth defenseman who still has some upside entering only his second full season at the NHL level. That makes him an interesting player in a few regards. On the one hand, I would not be in any hurry to trade him just because he has not lived up to lofty hopes. His salary is on target for his role, and a big body who can skate well enough, he is better than what most teams have to trot out for a #7 or even #6 defenseman. But interestingly, that same usefulness to salary ratio could give him some value as part of a package in a trade. Teams that need a depth defenseman on the cheap could do much worse especially if their scouting staff believes that Fleury could have another gear. So I would not be looking to dump him for nothing, but if another team wants him as part of a package, maybe you collect the value.   The importance of chemistry Yesterday I started into considering deals to improve the roster for next season. I do think the Hurricanes like almost every team should be trying to improve during the off-season. But whereas last summer, the team wanted to shake up the roster to effect a...