The lurking problem

The lurking problem

End off offseason / Beginning of new season coffee drive First, a huge thank you to everyone who has contributed to Canes and Coffee in the past. Your generosity is greatly appreciated, and the site would not exist without your support. With preseason underway, Canes and Coffee is officially starting its fourth year covering Carolina Hurricanes hockey. The site runs on a lean budget and is founded based on a love of our hockey team, but there are still bills and expenses. If you appreciated daily coverage to help get through the long offseason, please consider contributing $4 to a buy a cup of coffee as a thank you. If you are looking forward to another full season of daily Canes coverage, please consider contributing $4 to buy a cup of coffee to help fuel what lies ahead. Tips are welcome too. 🙂 Contribute HERE.   If you are a Canes fan who is enjoying a reprieve of positivity and optimism with the strong preseason start and does not want to mess with that until regular season results clearly dictate either reinforcement or a reversion to the mean, please look away now. To be clear, I do not in the slightest way dispute that the first three games of the preseason have been positive. Sure the wins do not really matter, but playing well always counts for more than playing poorly. I also think that the volume of competitive depth that the team has at the forward position is legitimate and a positive thing. And finally, I think even the winning counts a bit for a team that is seeking...
Random thoughts on building out the forward lines

Random thoughts on building out the forward lines

End off offseason / Beginning of new season coffee drive First, a huge thank you to everyone who has contributed to Canes and Coffee in the past. Your generosity is greatly appreciated, and the site would not exist without your support. With preseason underway, Canes and Coffee is officially starting its fourth year covering Carolina Hurricanes hockey. The site runs on a lean budget and is founded based on a love of our hockey team, but there are still bills and expenses. If you appreciated daily coverage to help get through the long offseason, please consider contributing $4 to a buy a cup of coffee as a thank you. If you are looking forward to another full season of daily Canes coverage, please consider contributing $4 to buy a cup of coffee to help fuel what lies ahead. Tips are welcome too. 🙂 Contribute HERE.   Random notes on building the Hurricanes forward roster and lines I had ambitious plans of finishing up an article that offered a slightly more detailed look at the various roster battles underway. But life got in the way a bit, that will wait while instead I offer a bit of an ad hoc list of thoughts on building out the forward lines.   Don’t make the same mistake twice – Lucas Wallmark versus Jordan Martinook Victor Rask’s injury opened up another center slot. The two names that come up most in this regard are Jordan Martinook and Lucas Wallmark. I cannot help but feel that those advocating for Martinook missed the 2017-18 season when the team centered its fourth line with offense lite...
Early thoughts on Carolina Hurricanes battle for forward roster spots

Early thoughts on Carolina Hurricanes battle for forward roster spots

In case you missed it late last night, notes from the Hurricanes 6-1 win over the Lightning are HERE.   The Hurricanes were to enter training camp with a healthy helping of roster spots open to be won in preseason. Then just before the start of training camp, the team announced that Victor Rask would be out long-term with a finger injury that required surgery. My count is eight healthy forwards on one-way contracts plus Sebastian Aho who is on an entry-level deal but obviously an NHLer plus Andrei Svechnikov who is a more or less a certainty to remain at the NHL level. That leaves three forward slots to be won in training camp assuming there are no injuries and no players on one-way contracts are demoted. Further, I do not see Martin Necas as a player guaranteed an NHL slot regardless of preseason/training camp, but he too projects to be on the opening day roster. That still leaves two forward slots to be won by rookies in training camp. Based on a small sample size of two games, today’s Daily Cup of Joe handicaps the battle for those two roster slots.   In so far or at least making a case to be in 1) Lucas Wallmark He impressed in his first preseason action on Tuesday. One of the openings is the center slot vacated by Victor Rask. The team does have options to move a player to center in Jordan Martinook and possibly Teuvo Teravainen, but I really think that slot is Wallmark’s to win. He did all he could in the AHL in 2017-18 and...
Canes catch up notes: Brett Pesce, Peter Mrazek, Greg McKegg and Jordan Martinook

Canes catch up notes: Brett Pesce, Peter Mrazek, Greg McKegg and Jordan Martinook

In case you missed it, a recap with player notes of the Hurricanes 4-1 win over the Lightning is HERE.   Today’s Daily Cup of Joe offers a quick burst of Canes notes that have not made it into another article yet or are covered in more detail here.   Brett Pesce As far as anything official, Brett Pesce who missed the tail end of the 2017-18 season with a shoulder injury, his usage thus far in training camp has looked odd to me. For the first practice sessions, Slavin, Hamilton, de Haan and Faulk were in one group and Pesce was in the other spending time with Jake Bean. Brind’Amour said very clearly not to read much into combinations in early practices, but the paranoid part of me figures Pesce for a top 4 defenseman and would logically expect him to be practicing with that group. If he plays regular minutes in Wednesday’s preseason game that would sort of put a stake in the sand that says the injury is behind him and that he is tracking to be ready by early October. WEDNESDAY NOTE ADDED: Pesce is in the lineup for Wednesday’s game, so I guess we can close this one. The watch shifts to getting an early read on how Brind’Amour plans to build his blue line with arguably five top 4 defensemen and only 4 slots plus the need to bump someone (likely Fleury) out of the bottom pairing.  UPDATE TO UPDATE: Pesce seems to be on the lineup card but not in the lineup? I guess we will see at game time, but perhaps...
6 Carolina Hurricanes to watch in early preseason action

6 Carolina Hurricanes to watch in early preseason action

Below is a quick hitter list of 10 Carolina Hurricanes players to watch in early preseason action with an eye for finding dark horse candidates for roster spots.   Lucas Wallmark With Victor Rask’s injury, I would probably not call Wallmark a dark horse anymore, but he was definitely a player on the outside looking in just before training camp started. He had a phenomenal year at the AHL level in 2017-18. At the NHL level, he looked competent but not really impressive. I will be curious to see if Brind’Amour flanks him with NHL wings in preseason action to gauge his ability to step in at the NHL level.   Janne Kuokkanen Kuokkanen is another player who could step into Rask’s slot as a center, but I think Kuokkanen could also be a dark horse to win a roster spot at wing. His heady two-way play with a bit of offense actually projects to fit on Jordan Staal’s line, but as with all of the young players, the question is whether they will reach projections/ceilings and when. Seeing if Brind’Amour plays Kuokkanen at wing or center early on would give some idea of where he possibly fits, and seeing if he gets ice time with NHLers would also be a clue for where he currently sits on the depth chart for consideration to start the season at the NHL level.   Michael Fora To be honest, I am still unable to gauge how close Fora is to NHL-ready. He looked capable against younger competition in prospect camp and in Traverse City. But that level of play is well...
The impact and upshot of Victor Rask’s injury

The impact and upshot of Victor Rask’s injury

I have in process a somewhat formal preseason preview series that I drafted last week and then shelved temporarily late last week with the news of Justin Williams being named captain and the potential Hurricanes impact of Erik Karlsson being traded. My hope is to tie up loose ends and have this preview posted before the team takes to the ice for preseason action on Tuesday against Tampa Bay.   On Thursday just before the start of the Carolina Hurricanes first training camp practice, the team announced that Victor Rask would require surgery on his fourth and fifth fingers which were injured in a kitchen accident earlier in the summer. Then on Sunday Rod Brind’Amour declared that Rask’s injury would keep him out for “months”. Rask injury will be “months,” Brind’Amour said. It was a major surgery that included repairing tendons. — Cory Lavalette (@corylav) September 16, 2018   Looking backward Looking backward to Victor Rask’s 2017-18, his injury might not seem like a big loss for the team on the ice. Rask had a sub-par season. His production and play in general was sluggish out of the gate and well into the season. He did rebound modestly in the second half of the season, but in total the season was not a good one for Victor Rask. His scoring plummeted from 46 points in 2016-17 to a mere 31 in 2017-18 even after a modest push late in the season. With Sebastian Aho moving to center and Martin Necas hopefully on the way, Rask entered the offseason as a fourth line center if everything else worked out as...