Carolina Hurricanes 2019-20 season preview: Part 1 — The roster relative to 2018-19

Carolina Hurricanes 2019-20 season preview: Part 1 — The roster relative to 2018-19

Suddenly with only two days until the puck drops on the 2019-20 season, it is time to start into the usual season preview series. Part 1 considers the 2019-20 roster as compared to the 2018-19 team. One of the common Hurricanes’ themes over the summer was to rave about how deep the team is or how much it had improved. With the volume of changes, it takes some work to consider the changes in total and assess the 2019-20 roster. I think looking at it by position helps paint a clear picture.   Goalie The big change is that Curtis McElhinney is gone and is replaced by James Reimer. Reimer has the potential to be as good as McElhinney, but he is also coming off a down season at age 31. The question is whether he as a rebound in him. Behind Reimer, the Hurricanes have deep goalie depth with Alex Nedeljkovic now another year deeper in his professional career and coming off a strong 2018-19 season in the AHL. In addition, the Hurricanes also have Anton Forsberg (if he clears waivers) who also has NHL experience. I think it is also significant to note that Petr Mrazek enters the 2019-20 season with many fewer question marks than this time last year. Netting it out: The Hurricanes enter the season with significant uncertainty in backup James Reimer. But to the positive, Mrazek is less of a wild card in his second season with the team, and the Canes will be four deep with potential NHL netminders if Forsberg clears waivers. I would call the goalie position even but still...
Carolina Hurricanes cut roster to 29

Carolina Hurricanes cut roster to 29

As expected, the Hurricanes announced a broad set of roster cuts to stock the Charlotte Checkers and get a step closer to an opening day lineup. But with 29 players still on a roster likely to land at 22-24 by the end of the weekend, there are still decisions to be made at least partly based on the final two preseason games. Here is an updated assessment of the situation after today’s cuts.   Goalie I am on record from awhile back and again in today’s Daily Cup of Joe as saying that regardless of how competitive the situation looks in camp, the ultimate resolution to the goalie situation continues to be a foregone conclusion from before the start of camp. Alex Nedeljkovic needs to and will get NHL ice time at some point as he gets a chance to stake a claim to a backup slot or more in the near future. But before that occurs, the team needs to at a minimum give James Reimer a run in the NHL to try to rebound from a tough 2018-19 season. Ideal would be that he rebound and become tradeable. Especially if Forsberg clears waivers, I think the team would be willing to go with a combination of Mrazek, Nedeljkovic and Forsberg to fill two NHL slots. I guess the question for some might be why Forsberg stayed and Nedeljkovic left. I think the best bet is that Mrazek and Reimer split the two weekend starts and that the team does not want to put either of them in a position where they have to come in cold. So...
Notes from Carolina Hurricanes first day of practices – Erik Haula, Martin Necas and Bill Burniston

Notes from Carolina Hurricanes first day of practices – Erik Haula, Martin Necas and Bill Burniston

Hockey is back!!!! As I said on Twitter shortly after joyfully scampering into PNC Arena for Friday’s practices: Nothing better than walking into chilly feeling and hearing the whish..whish..whish…of skates and clackety clack of pucks and sticks. — Canes and Coffee (@CanesandCoffee) September 13, 2019 Today’s Daily Cup of Joe looked at the possible roster battle and/or depth chart positioning for the forward position. And below are notes from Friday’s two practices.   First impression – Erik Haula One of my watch points for the first practice was newcomer Erik Haula. As a former Western Conference player, my watch points on him were minimal prior to joining the team, so the start of training camp is a chance to start matching up my assessment to my impressions of him prior largely from research. In the drills as lines, he skated with Warren Foegele and Martin Necas. Both of those players skate well and can push pace. Haula looked every bit the part of a player who could match pace which is encouraging given that his 2018-19 season was cut short by a serious leg injury. Two other things that stood out…First, he showed the hands of a finisher in close on multiple occasions. Second, he seemed to be pretty vocal especially for a player new to the group. During the line skating at the end, he spent some time barking at/encouraging one of the players in the group who was struggling a bit. I could not get a helmet number, but thinking is that it might have been fellow Finnish player and youngster Eetu Luostarinen. (If anyone can confirm...
Carolina Hurricanes re-sign Brock McGinn (before arbitration) for 2 years at $2.1 million per year

Carolina Hurricanes re-sign Brock McGinn (before arbitration) for 2 years at $2.1 million per year

On Saturday, the Carolina Hurricanes announced that the team had re-signed Brock McGinn to a two-year contract at $2.1 million per year ($1.9 million 2019-20 and $2.3 million in 2020-21). The deal came before the arbitration hearing which was scheduled for Saturday. Below are a few levels of thoughts on Brock McGinn’s signing.   Brock McGinn’s contract I had McGinn at $1.75 million per year and would have been fine with one year or two at that price. In a salary cap world, every dollar counts, but $350,000 will not be what determines if the team is successful going forward. And as far as comparables go, the salary is a reasonable middle ground between a bargain and a higher end that could possibly be justified by McGinn’s 16 goals and 30 points in 2017-18. So if one considers McGinn to be a pure fourth-liner, $2.1 million would be a modest premium. If instead one considers McGinn to be a top 9 forward, that same price is a discount. So if one puts him somewhere in the middle, the price is probably a fair one for his role somewhat similar to Jordan Martinook’s $2 million salary.   Brock McGinn’s role/slot As alluded to above, I view McGinn as a tweener line-wise. Ideally on a good team, I think he gets pushed down to a fourth line role. At the same time, I think McGinn can make a legitimate case for being a physical component in the top 9. When you add in his role on the penalty kill and the fact that he is Nathan Gerbe-like in terms of consistent every...
Carolina Hurricanes sign forward Ryan Dzingel for two years at $3.375 million per year

Carolina Hurricanes sign forward Ryan Dzingel for two years at $3.375 million per year

On Friday, the Hurricanes announced that the team had signed forward Ryan Dzingel to a two-year contract for $3.375 million per year. I will add details to my initial thoughts/comments on Twitter from Friday morning.   Good signing in terms of price vs. value vs. risk 1/? Really good signing by #Canes. Price/risk/caliber of player math is incredibly good for proven middle 6 player. #TakeWarning https://t.co/BlHgo9P1mn — Canes and Coffee (@CanesandCoffee) July 12, 2019 At the simplest level, the signing is a solid non-flashy signing. In Ryan Dzingel, the Hurricanes added a proven middle 6 forward who is coming off a strong season with 26 goals and 56 points. A bit like Erik Haula, Dzingel is another capable forward who at a minimum is above the third line replacement level offensively. Also like Haula (if he recovers to 100 percent after leg injury), Dzingel is another player who is a perfect fit for Brind’Amour’s style that emphasizes pace, pressure and forechecking. Dzingel can fly and naturally plays and aggressive style of hockey. He naturally slots at left wing but could also play on the right side if needed. On a financial level, one has to like this deal. He adds another player with two-term and a reasonable $3.4 million that is the going rate for good third-line forwards in today’s NHL. Dzingel offers upside from a third-line salary as evidenced by his 2018-19 offensive production. The two-year term pegs the risk at an absolute minimum. And the lack of any no-trade/no-movement clauses maximizes flexibility going forward.   Another component for building a second scoring line 2/? Ryan Dzingel is...
Thoughts on the Sebastian Aho offer sheet

Thoughts on the Sebastian Aho offer sheet

Today an NHL rarity occurred, and it involved the Carolina Hurricanes. A few hours into the kick off of NHL free agency, it was announced that the Montreal Canadiens had signed Sebastian Aho to an offer sheet. The headline terms were a five-year deal at $8.454 million per year. But the headline numbers do not tell the whole story. Breakdown of Aho offer sheet: $11.3M SB plus 700k salary in Year 1; $9.87M SB plus 700k salary in Year 2; $6.95 SB plus 750k salary in Year 3; $5.25 SB plus $750k in each of Year 4 and Year 5 — Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) July 1, 2019 The situation is interesting on many levels. Let’s step through at least most of them.   An odd move by the Canadiens By pegging the salary where it is, the Canadiens would have to give up first, second and third round draft picks. Had they gone a bit higher another first round pick would have been added. In that regard, the salary offered looks like a steal for the Canadiens, but that only matters if the Hurricanes do not match it. There are issues with the payment structure (see below), but I would be utterly shocked to see the Hurricanes not match this. So that begs the question of what Montreal was up to. Did they really think that there is a chance that the Hurricanes would decide not to match this fairly modest offer in return for a ‘meh’ set of draft picks? Or did Montreal perhaps just see an easy chance to stick it to another Eastern Conference team? Montreal...