Carolina Hurricanes free agents to be — Forwards

Carolina Hurricanes free agents to be — Forwards

With the 2022 Stanley Cup Finals starting on Wednesday night, the off-season is quickly approaching. Despite making three consecutive playoff appearances, the 2022 off-season was a whirlwind for the Canes who replaced both goalies and even the #3 goalie, brought in four new defensemen and also swapped in three new forwards. When the dust settled half of the roster had changed over. Though the volume could be slightly less for the upcoming off-season, the moves could be even more tumultuous with more top half of the roster players in play. My hope is to work through each player in more detail later, but today’s Daily Cup of Joe cuts to the chase and offers quick-hitter thoughts on each Canes free agent.   Goalies None. Both Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta signed two-year deals last summer, so the team is set to stand pat in net. With Andersen having a strong regular season, Raanta generally playing well in the playoffs and Pyotr Kochetkov looking promising in his partial season in North America, I would expect the Canes to stand pat in net.   Forwards Vincent Trocheck After what I thought was a slow start in a Hurricanes uniform, Vincent Trocheck has settled in and become a solid second line center. He is consistent in terms of energy level and his always leaning forward, aggressive style is a perfect fit for how Brind’Amour wants to play. His 21 goals and 51 points in 81 games in 2021-22 was a modest step down but still decent production from the C2 slot. My only question mark on him is if he can be...
By position: Looking back at 2021-22 and forward to 2022-23 — Forwards

By position: Looking back at 2021-22 and forward to 2022-23 — Forwards

Yesterday’s Daily Cup of Joe was part 1 of 2 looking back at 2021-22 and then forward to 2022-23. If you missed it, you can find the first part that covered the goalie and defensemen HERE. Part 2 continues by looking at the forwards.   The structure of the Hurricanes lineup With the odd exception of the 2020-21 season when Jordan Staal seemingly went down to the crossroads and sold his soul for a year of high-end scoring, the Hurricanes have for a couple years been trying to build a lineup that features two higher-end scoring lines and a third line that leans toward checking. That formula works more easily for a team that has an elite scoring line at the top of the lineup. The Bruins from a few years past made this formula work pretty well. But without an elite scoring first line, the margin for error for getting enough offense from a balanced attack can be challenging. The Hurricanes have generally been able to accomplish this during the regular season with a system that generates chances across all four lines when clicking and/or preying on weaker opponents. But the inability to find enough sources of goal scoring to make balanced work has played a role in recent playoff exits including the 2022 NHL Playoffs. For balanced to work, especially with a third line that is built to be a bit scoring light, the Hurricanes really need to get decent or better goal scoring from all six of the players on the top two lines.   The 2022 NHL playoffs Entering the playoffs, I mostly had Aho,...
By position: Looking back at 2021-22 and forward to 2022-23 — Goalies and defensemen

By position: Looking back at 2021-22 and forward to 2022-23 — Goalies and defensemen

Today’s Daily Cup of Joe will be part of 1 of 2 or possibly 3 going player by player both looking back at the 2021-22 season and forward to building the roster for the 2022-23 season.   Goalies Coming off three consecutive playoff seasons and even modest playoff success with four series wins, cutting lose all three goalies and replacing them with a completely new group is not the norm. But that is the route the Canes made following the 2021-22 season when they let Petr Mrazek and James Reimer leave via free agency and trading up and comer Alex Nedeljkovic, and replaced them with free agents Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta at the NHL level and adding Alex Lyon as a #3 at the AHL level. That transition was generally successful. Driven by recency bias, some might point to Raanta’s poor play in the game 6 loss to the Rangers and that he was the starter in the ugly game 7 loss. But looking bigger picture, Raanta played well in the playoffs except for game 6 versus the Rangers. Even in the lopsided road losses versus the Bruins, Raanta was much more a victim playing behind a rough night for the skaters than a cause of the outcome. And in game 7, Raanta maybe could have made a big save or two to hold the fort longer, but at the end of the day the Rangers were better by a wide margin in game 7, and it was not a game that one can pin on Raanta. During the regular season, Frederik Andersen was Vezina finalist level for...
The Carolina Hurricanes versus New York Rangers series

The Carolina Hurricanes versus New York Rangers series

With a day to let the abrupt and disappointing ending to the 2021-22 Carolina Hurricanes season settle in, today begins the off-season journey both looking back at the previous season and considering moves to build the 2022-23 season. Tentative plan is to alternate back and forth between looking back at the 2021-22 season and considering how best to A good starting point is considering how it ended with the loss to the New York Rangers.   If I had to boil it down to a couple key factors, it would be the following: Summing it up – Fatal flaws 1) Rangers’ goalie advantage After that not so much being the case in a very up and down first round series versus the Penguins, Igor Shesterkin was very good against the Hurricanes. With the power of hindsight now in hand, I think the key game of the series was actually game 4 not game 7. After the Canes were part lucky and part good winning two low-scoring coin flips in Raleigh to start the series, they needed only one win in New York to return up 3-1 and in control of the series. After a ‘meh’ effort and deserved loss in game 3, in game 4 the Canes were decent defensively on the road, received solid netminding from Raanta and generally controlled play. The Canes peppered Shesterkin with 44 shots on net and generally did a decent job of getting traffic to the crease. But despite probably deserving better, Niederreiter’s goal at about the midway point pulled the Canes only within a goal at 2-1. Even with a decent number...
Game 7 !!!

Game 7 !!!

First and foremost today is to recognize and appreciate the ultimate sacrifice made by those who gave their lives serving our country.   A good place to be on Memorial Day There are no guarantees in an NHL playoff series game 7. In a game where a couple scores can win a game, a couple bounces early in the game can chart a course toward the ultimate outcome. But with the disclaimer of  ‘no guarantees/anything can happen, one has to like where the Canes are right now. As I said on Twitter on Sunday: It is an absolutely tremendous day to be a @Canes fan. Team has won EACH AND EVERY home playoff game for 7 fun wins and has another game 7 AT HOME. Said game 7 is on Memorial Day perfect for peak playoff tailgating. Rest up today Caniac friends. Tomorrow is going to be epic! — Canes and Coffee (@CanesandCoffee) May 29, 2022 For Canes fans that lived through and remember the decade-long playoff drought, where the team is right now is even better.   What does it take for the Canes to win? 1) Continued stinginess defensively With the margin for error tiny at this juncture of the series, Jordan Staal’s line needs to put forward another nearly perfect home effort. That line’s job is to shut down the other team’s top scoring line.  And Antti Raanta who struggled on Saturday needs to rebound and play as he has throughout the playoffs. With those things clicking, the Canes have yet to give up three goals through seven home playoff games and have given up two...
Random thoughts heading into game 5 of the Carolina Hurricanes versus the New York Rangers

Random thoughts heading into game 5 of the Carolina Hurricanes versus the New York Rangers

At this point, we all know the drill about the home/away matchup game. Back in Raleigh on Thursday, Brind’Amour is right back to matching Niederreiter/Staal/Fast against the Rangers top scoring line which figures to include Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider. Artemi Panarin figures to still be on another line to get him away from Staal’s line and balance the Rangers scoring leaders on the road. So I will skip another rundown of what we have been seeing for awhile now and instead offer a collection of random thoughts heading into game 5…   1) Will the Rangers open things up a bit more in Raleigh It will be interesting to see if the Rangers open things up a bit more in Raleigh (if not losing and trying to play catch up). In the first two games, the Rangers played a very conservative brand of hockey. I think they mostly got the results they wanted in terms of staying in the game, hoping their goalie was as good or better and looking for that one bounce or goal steal a road win. The plan worked well except yielding that one more goal to win a game. With the ability to dictate match ups more at Madison Square Garden, the Rangers opened things up a bit more and benefited. So for game 5, does Gallant go by the results (two wins in New York) from a bit more open game? Or does he revert back to the same road hockey that got his team close but did not yield results in game 1 and 2?   2) Whoever scores first in...