Considering Eric Staal

Considering Eric Staal

With the Carolina Hurricanes flying high in the midst of an eight-game winning streak, pretty much everything is going well. Even minus a couple players out with injuries, the team is winning and often doing it by a wide margin. Were the team to ride the current roster into the playoffs, it would have a good chance to beat everyone. And success in the playoffs is almost unanimously driven by a first and foremost by a team’s core not players added at the trade deadline. But at the same time, the playoffs are a long grind and quality depth helps. No doubt the full-year players like Brind’Amour, Staal and Stillman drove the bus offensively when the Hurricanes hoisted the Stanley Cup in 2006. But veteran additions Mark Recchi and Doug Weight made the team more competitive from top to bottom and played a role in surviving the grind at times and hanging round in range for heroics to win the day. There is still a lot of hockey to play and inevitably some ups and downs to come, but the 2020-21 Carolina Hurricanes are very much a team within range of competing for the 2021 Stanley Cup. And though the current roster is very good, there is still room to both improve and become deeper. Also consider that to even make the semifinals, the Hurricanes will likely have to beat a Lightning team that has beaten them three out of four times (the Canes 3-on-3 overtime win is basically a tie as far as playoff games go) and should add 2019 Hart Trophy winner Nikita Kucherov in time for...
Gm26 Vs. Nas: Canes ride another scoring outburst to seventh straight win, besting Preds 5-1

Gm26 Vs. Nas: Canes ride another scoring outburst to seventh straight win, besting Preds 5-1

Anyone else just pinch themselves sometimes because they're not sure it is real how @Canes can just score goals in bunches sometimes regardless of how game is going, if they are playing particularly well or whatever else? — Canes and Coffee (@CanesandCoffee) March 12, 2021 Thursday’s game against the Predators started normally enough. The game was fairly even with Nashville even having the upper hand early by a modest margin. But the Predators did not score on a couple decent early chances. And then it happened. In a span of barely over two minutes, the Hurricanes scored three quick goals. First, Morgan Geekie deftly tipped a Jake Bean point shot/pass on the power play. Next, the Canes won a puck on the forecheck resulting in a Warren Foegele pass across to Brock McGinn who sniped a shot into an open chunk of net. Then Andrei Svechnikov made a pretty pass to Dougie Hamilton who finished to put the Hurricanes up 3-0. The first period would end with the play somewhere close to 50-50 in many ways, the Predators having a wide 15 to 6 shot advantage, but the Hurricanes posting a 3-0 lead on the scoreboard. The second period was more of the same. The game was fairly even, but Nashville struggled to beat James Reimer for a goal, and Morgan Geekie struck again on a lucky goal that went off the goalie, off a defense and behind the goalie for a 4-0 lead. Again, Nashville collected shots, but only the Hurricanes scored. The third period saw Martin Necas score from right out front on the power play when...
The foundation of Canes 2020-21 success — Strength down the middle

The foundation of Canes 2020-21 success — Strength down the middle

Ask and you shall receive.   Pre 2020-21 season concerns A regular theme of my pre-season writing about the Canes was for the team’s middle centers to find a higher gear than in 2019-20. On September 4, I wrote this article entitled, “Questions down the middle.”  And on December 30, I pegged the second line center slot that Vincent Trocheck is in as one of “The two most critical slots in the Carolina Hurricanes 2020-21 lineup.”   Expectations I figured Sebastian Aho for a near certainty to produce in the neighborhood of a point per game for a floor and therefore be a bona fide first line scoring center. He has a higher gear yet but is in the neighborhood of that level of production. Then past that I had Vincent Trocheck and Jordan Staal as keys to the team’s success. Staal started slow in 2019-20 and had a ‘meh’ season overall even defensively and dipped to a new low offensively. The question of whether he was fading in the second part of his career was legitimate. Vincent Trocheck’s situation was an odd one in that he played a few games after arriving via trade, then went on COVID hiatus with the league for four months and then played another few games in the playoffs. By no means was the separated, small sample size enough to make any final declarations on Trocheck as a Hurricane, but it was fair to say that his production out of the gate (twice) was not at the level hoped for when he was obtained.   10x expectations so far Fast forward to 2020-21...
Gm25 Vs. Nas: Canes ride special teams and overtime invincibility to 3-2 win over Predators

Gm25 Vs. Nas: Canes ride special teams and overtime invincibility to 3-2 win over Predators

What a time to be alive as a Hurricanes fan. Even when the team puts forward a B effort, the result is still regularly an exciting win. The Hurricanes were not horrible on Thursday night, but it was far from their best effort. The team had stretches where it had the upper hand territorially and/or in terms of possession but did not do enough to generate grade A chances. Coupled with a couple net front presence goals by the Predators and the Hurricanes were down 2-0 late in the second period and seemingly destined for a loss. But a series of a mini-power play-fueled scoring burst, a couple cat with nine lives near misses when Nashville hit the post late in regulation and again in overtime and the team’s usual overtime heroics converted the effort into the team’s sixth win in a row.   Player and other notes 1) Special teams The difference in the game was special teams. In a game heavy on power play time, the Hurricanes scored two goals on six tries with the man advantage, while holding the Predators scoreless on five tries. That two goal advantage was the totality of the Hurricanes regulation scoring and was enough to get the Hurricanes to overtime.   2) Jordan Staal Who is starting to believe my assertion that Jordan Staal cut a Robert Johnson-like deal with the devil during his COVID layoff likely when sneaking out late at night in Chicago to wander the streets looking for answers? Is there a better explanation for Staal’s sudden ability to pick even the tiniest of corners with sniper-like precision. He...
Revisiting the Dougie Hamilton situation

Revisiting the Dougie Hamilton situation

Shortly after the Canes lost in the playoffs and the team’s off-season started, I did a deep dive on the Dougie Hamilton contract situation.  Now six months later and nearly halfway through a shortened 2020-21 season, today’s Daily Cup of Joe revisits the possibility and terms for Dougie Hamilton to re-sign with the Carolina Hurricanes for the 2021-22 season. As a quick baseline, my off-season article suggested that the Hurricanes had enough depth with the addition of Brady Skjei that they could get by without re-signing Hamilton but ideally would try to do so if they could get a modest discount to push his salary to or below $7.5 million per year for 4-6 years.   What has changed? After arguably playing at his ceiling in 2019-20 with solid defense and challenging for the NHL lead in goals and scoring for a defenseman, Hamilton has taken a reasonable step down thus far in the 2020-21 season. His 17 points in 24 games is still an impressive 58-point pace over 82 games, but he has scored only one goal and has not contributed as much at even strength. Maybe more significant is the fact that Hamilton has been up and down with many more downs than in 2019-20. He is still a capable top 4 defenseman who can score. And he still easily fits into the Hurricanes top 4. But he no longer looks like Superman offensively, and sort of like when he arrived, he again is a defenseman whose defensive play can be inconsistent.   What do the Canes have in Dougie Hamilton going forward? Hamilton is big offensive...