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...
Did the Carolina Hurricanes squander the team’s financial advantage?

Did the Carolina Hurricanes squander the team’s financial advantage?

With what could be a salary cap-limited and more subdued start to free agency starting at noon on Friday, I will at least put up placeholder in general and a more specific post for discussion if the Hurricanes do any deals.   Pre-Dundon For much of a decade, the Carolina Hurricanes had an internal budget that was $15 to $20 million below the NHL’s salary cap ceiling. During most of that time, that budget capacity was off limits and something that could be used as an advantage. The potential to gain an advantage over the league seemed to build mostly just prior to the ownership transition when the signed key players Jaccob Slavin, Brett Pesce and Teuvo Teravainen to contracts below market rates. Though Sebastian Aho’s contract was maybe not as favorable especially with its front-loaded structure, the average salary was reasonable at $8.5 million.   Growing into the cap ceiling At the point when Tom Dundon bought the team, there was untapped potential to leverage favorable financials to gain an advantage on the rest of the league. And for as frugal as Dundon has been with the AHL, staff and even broadcasters, he has opened his wallet to spend on player personnel. A small but striking example of how things have changed was when the Hurricanes took on Patrick Marleau’s contract to buy him out basically paying cash to buy a first-round draft pick from the Maple Leafs. Along the way the Hurricanes have meandered their way up into the range of most of the NHL teams that are cap-constrained mostly on a yearly basis. Earlier this week...
Carolina Hurricanes odds for the 2020 NHL Draft and front part of the off-season

Carolina Hurricanes odds for the 2020 NHL Draft and front part of the off-season

In addition to the broader article on the draft and beginning of the NHL trade/free agent off-season, see also my article detailing why Steven Stamkos to the Carolina Hurricanes could surprisingly make sense for both teams.   So to put things into a normal NHL schedule, tomorrow and Wednesday are about the third weekend in June when the NHL Draft normally occurs. Then Friday is July 1 when free agency opens. In a normal off-season, that July 1 free agency kick off would put training camps out just over two months and the start of the regular season just over three months away. So if that schedule holds that would mean training camps in December and the start of the regular season early in the new year. But when exactly NHL hockey returns is a big unknown right now which makes the next couple weeks of regular NHL news even more exciting. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe tries to put odds to different possibilities for the draft, trade activity surrounding the draft and the front part of free agency.   The Hurricanes select Russian goalie Yaroslav Askarov with the #13 selection in the 2020 NHL Draft – 10% Aside from a couple players slated to go in the first few picks, probably the player with the most buzz right now is goalie Yaroslav Askarov. A few months ago, he was projected to be picked right around where the Hurricanes pick at #13, but his stock seems to have risen such that the odds of getting him at #13 have seemingly decreased. There are enough teams ahead of the Hurricanes...
Carolina Hurricanes versus Boston Bruins: Learning from last year

Carolina Hurricanes versus Boston Bruins: Learning from last year

Earlier today, I wrote an article entitled, “Who are these Boston Bruins?” that looked at the Bruins from 2019 playoffs, 2019-20 regular season and the 2020 playoff round robin. That article is HERE.   For the Carolina Hurricanes, the 2019 NHL Playoffs were nothing short of magical. After a decade-long playoff hiatus, the Hurricanes scratched and clawed to get into the playoffs (which was a huge success in and of itself) and then bettered that by a WIDE margin in beating the Washington Capitals in an enthralling seven-game series. The quick sweep of of New York Islanders in the second round had Canes fans legitimately starting to wonder, “Could it really happen?” But after a long layoff after the second round sweep, the Hurricanes never really got up and going against the Boston Bruins and were quickly bounced from the playoffs in a four-game sweep. The Hurricanes were outscored 17 to 5 in the series and were really only close in a game 3 loss by a 2-1 margin that was the last gasp to try to climb into the series. The series at hand features a huge amount of wild cards with the long layoff, a possible revenge motivator for the Canes and simply the young Hurricanes squad being another year old, stronger and maybe wiser. But despite the number things that make current series an entity of its own, there are still takeaways/things to consider from last May.   Leadership and poise I feel like it is almost sacreligious to even talk about it based on all he did to help the team reach that level, but...