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...
Quick hitters on the New York Rangers series

Quick hitters on the New York Rangers series

Sometime closer to the start of the playoff series, I will write an article or two that goes into a bit more depth on the Canes versus Rangers series. But today’s Daily Cup of Joe jumps the gun a bit and offers a few quick hitters on matching up with the Rangers.   Who pressures whom? The Rangers ice a young team that has the ability to play uptempo hockey and attack quickly if given time. The series could turn on who pressures whom. Can the Hurricanes refind their overwhelming forecheck that was the team’s bread and butter during its success in the latter half of the 2018-19 season and the 2019 NHL Playoffs? That forecheck was not a regular ingredient in 2019-20. If the Hurricanes can do that, perhaps the young Rangers blue liners will wilt under the pressure. But if the Rangers can quickly navigate their way past the first line or two of defense, the Rangers youth and skill can really put pressure on a Canes back end that can have some holes in terms of sorting things out under duress. Who wins this battle could very well win the series.   The mental part of the goaltending battle Arguably, the single biggest factor in the regular season series was goaltending. The Hurricanes netminders were generally decent or better in total during the season but for whatever reason fell a bit flat against Rangers. And the Rangers goalies were outstanding. While I do think it is fair to say that the Rangers have an edge in net, I think the bigger thing could be the mental...
Carolina Hurricanes Return to Play roster

Carolina Hurricanes Return to Play roster

Who knows on the pandemic prognosis, but as of right now the NHL continues to chart a course toward playoff hockey when the calendar flips to August. The timing is ironic since August is normally the deadest time of the hockey season. The Hurricanes are slated to play the New York Rangers in a best of five with games scheduled for August 1, 3, 4, 6 and 8. With that, the team also announced its 31-player roster. That roster is the subject of today’s Daily Cup of Joe.   An interesting starting point is to note that the Hurricanes are using only 26 of the maximum 30 skater slots. Other teams are below 30 too, but most seemed to be closer to 30. I am not sure if this means that the Hurricanes could add players later in which case, you have a weird trade-off. On the one hand, the Canes gain flexibility for position depending on what is needed. On the other hand, you would be throwing rusty players who are basically months deep in the off-season straight into playoff hockey without time to get up to speed even in practice.   Goalies As one would expect, the Hurricanes are carrying all four NHL-experienced goalies in Anton Forsberg, Petr Mrazek, Alex Nedeljkovic, and James Reimer. Because it is not a position where you can just figure something out (except for that one MASSIVE and magical night in Toronton), it makes sense to carry four goalies for just in case with injuries and the threat of COVID-19 lurking. Technically teams are allowed unlimited goalies, so I believe the could...