Re-sign or replace Jordan Martinook?

Re-sign or replace Jordan Martinook?

Yesterday’s Daily Cup of Joe started down the road of considering the group of players that the Carolina Hurricanes must either re-sign or replace. First up was Dougie Hamilton who looms as the biggest off-season decision for the Hurricanes and also Hamilton himself. You can find that article HERE. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe considers Jordan Martinook.   Looking backward From day one, Jordan Martinook has been a tremendous addition to the team’s leadership and the local hockey community. He is adored by teammates and fans alike and earned the letter on his jersey from his leadership and role as someone who pulls the team together. In terms of leadership, character, fabric of the team and just being an all-around great person, Jordan Martinook is a good fit for any team. As a player, Martinook burst onto the scene in Raleigh scoring 15 goals including five game-winners in his first season with the Hurricanes in 2018-19. Those career highs won him a two-year extension at $2 million per year. In the two years of that contract, he has scored two goals in 45 games and four games in 44 games in 2019-20 and 2020-21 respectively. His 24-point pace for an 82-game season is a decent pace for mostly fourth-line ice time and now power play minutes.   Looking forward Many things have changed since Martinook’s arrival, but two are maybe most significant in considering whether to re-sign or instead replace him. First, the Hurricanes have seemingly effected the the culture change needed and have become a regular playoff team. That accomplishment which Martinook clearly played a role in has...
Revisiting the Dougie Hamilton situation

Revisiting the Dougie Hamilton situation

Despite the fact that the 2020-21 season is still in progress with the Stanley Cup Finals just beginning on Monday, the news, rumors and rumblings suggest that the off-season is underway. Hurricanes’ free agents Dougie Hamilton, Jordan Martinook and Andrei Svechnikov have all been discussed by Pierre LeBrun and others. Of those three, Dougie Hamilton is easily the biggest decision point. Svechnikov will be signed to some kind of contract, so the question there is just dollars and term. I am higher on Martinook than many simply because of what he brings in terms of leadership, but his is a depth forward whose contribution on the score sheet could easily be replaced. I wrote about Dougie Hamilton’s contract situation at the end of the 2019-20 season HERE. I followed up on March 9, 2021 in this article HERE.   What is the same from those two articles? At the time I wrote the first article, Hamilton was coming off a phenomenal 2019-20 season scoring-wise but did have his season ended abruptly with his leg injury. When I revisited the situation in early March, Hamilton’s stock had fallen a bit. He was still chipping in offensively but had yet to pile up goals, and he had had some ups and downs defensively. He finished the 2020-21 season strong offensively such that his stock was arguably closer to what it was at its peak. In the September article, I noted Roman Josi’s $9.1 million contract among others. By the time I wrote again in March, Alex Pietrangelo’s $9 million deal was a more recent ceiling/benchmark. Those are still decent comparables for...
What to make of final two games versus the Predators

What to make of final two games versus the Predators

Heading into the final two-game set of the regular season against the Nashville Predators, the Hurricanes were a perfect 6-0. With two wins, the Hurricanes would finish no worse than second in the entire NHL and would ride an eight-game winning streak into a playoff series against those same Predators. Since that starting point, things have taken a decided turn in a different direction. The Hurricanes first lost 3-1 to a hungry Nashville team that needed the win to clinch a playoff berth. Then on Monday in an odd game featuring a number of non-regulars on both sides, the Predators throttled the Hurricanes by a 5-0 margin. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe considers the significance of these two games as the teams prepare to face-off in the first round of the 2021 NHL Playoffs.   At a basic level, do these results matter? In a word, yes. While I do not think losing a couple low (not zero but low) importance games with the division title already in hand is too significant for the Hurricanes, I think those two wins were very important on the Nashville side. With six losses in six games and a pretty good scoring margin overall, the Predators will benefit from proving that they can beat the Hurricanes. The long layoff and reset before the series starts will not allow much for momentum, but the Predators should now enter the series in a better mindset having found a formula for beating the Hurricanes. That said, I do not think there is any damage done to the Hurricanes psyche nor do I think the momentum that...
What does peak 2020-21 Carolina Hurricanes look like?

What does peak 2020-21 Carolina Hurricanes look like?

If you missed it yesterday, please check out the polls and place your vote for building the Caroline Hurricanes forward line combinations HERE.   Today’s Daily Cup of Joe offers one opinion on what would be included in a ‘peak’ 2020-21 Carolina Hurricanes that took yet another step forward and played its way up into the top echelon of the NHL.   Goaltending Especially with a condensed schedule, I think the key for goaltending will be having two goalies who are regularly playing well enough to give the team a chance to win with decent efforts. At a basic level. I think the Hurricanes had that last season and do not really need to be significantly different or better in net. If I had to nitpick, Petr Mrazek has generally played his best hockey after rounding into form near the midway point of his two seasons with the Hurricanes. With a shorter 56-game season, ideal would be for him to find a higher gear a bit sooner. But in general, the 2019-20 netminding that was reasonably consistent and balanced with both Reimer and Mrazek taking turns is exactly what is need for peak 2020-21 Hurricanes hockey.   On defense When the Hurricanes emerged and finally pushed up into the playoffs in 2018-19 obviously a number of things went well, but I think the single biggest factor was the top to bottom strength of the team’s blue line. From top to bottom the group defended well. With players like Faulk initially and de Haan later pushed down into the third pairing where van Riemsdyk was also having a solid season,...
The two most critical slots in the 2020-21 Carolina Hurricanes lineup

The two most critical slots in the 2020-21 Carolina Hurricanes lineup

Unlike other major sports where a portion of the roster plays a minimal role in teams’ success, hockey is a sport where each and every player matters. Players at the very bottom of the roster still play regular minutes and often fill important roles on the penalty kill. So an important disclaimer to today’s Daily Cup of Joe is to say that all slots are important and that this article presupposes that core players at the top of the lineup continue on their current trajectory. Disclaimer aside, today’s article identifies two slots that I think could be most critical to the Carolina Hurricanes’ success during the 2020-21 season.   Second line center Whether it is with regular partner Teuvo Teravainen and whether it includes Andrei Svechnikov or another wing aimed at a more balanced lineup, Sebastian Aho’s first line figures to be capable or better in a primary scoring role. That line has been good enough or better for two consecutive seasons, and Aho could still have a modest amount of additional upside. Further down the lineup, Jordan Staal is best-suited for more of checking type role. He struggled a bit during the front part of the 2019-20 season and now at 32 years old is likely trending toward a slightly narrower role than he played as a work horse a couple years ago. If you count Aho’s line as a legitimate top scoring line like it was in 2019-20 and agree with my assertion that maybe Staal is more of a third line center with a checking focus at this stage of his career, the question is the...
Carolina Hurricanes sign free agent forward Jesper Fast

Carolina Hurricanes sign free agent forward Jesper Fast

On Saturday, it was announced that the Hurricanes had signed right wing Jesper Fast to a three-year contract for $2 million per year. Below are my initial thoughts on the addition.   At the top level At the most basic level, Jesper Fast is a good hockey player and also unmistakably a positive add in terms of the locker room. At a salary of $2 million per year, Fast represents a quality depth addition. His scoring is not such that he dramatically changes the Hurricanes, but Fast adds quality depth that makes a difference when trying to ice a balanced, competitive lineup.   Jesper Fast Fast was an assistant captain, leader and positive influence for the Rangers. He is a strong defensive forward capable of playing against other teams’ best players and also playing on the penalty kill. Fast has scored between 20 and 30 points in each of the last five seasons, so he is not so much a scoring spark as the addition of more depth scoring. Because of that, he ideally slots more as a third line forward, but he skates well enough and is sound defensively which means he is not out of place in the top 6 when lines get shuffled or injuries make it necessary. Fast also fills a few needs. He adds a right shot and true right wing. The Hurricanes have regularly had to use players like Foegele and McGinn on the right side to balance the lineup. Though his skill set is different, he adds a right shot to replace Justin Williams. He also skates well and should fit well...