Can the next 10 days mark a turning point in Hurricanes hockey history?

Can the next 10 days mark a turning point in Hurricanes hockey history?

The honeymoon from January through April of 2018 The change in ownership last January ushered in a new era in Carolina Hurricanes hockey. The change was not just lip service as February kicked off with some generous and somewhat controversial ticket promotions. Then after the season concluded the changeover organizationally was even more striking. Before season ended Ron Francis was sent to some random mail room job initially and then ousted altogether a bit later. But on the ice and in the standings nothing changed instantly when Dundon took over. The team still entered January with a deficit. The team still pushed a bit to nearly climb back into in February before floundering and withdrawing from the playoff hunt. Then from life support, the team rose up in March for its usual ‘too little too late’ push. So though there were some fast changes and reasons for hope, the trajectory of last January through April were painfully familiar to Canes fans who had tracked the team in years prior.   Fast out of the gate for the new era with Rod Brind’Amour Once the season ended, out was Bill Peters and in was rookie head coach Rod Brind’Amour. Long-time star Jeff Skinner was jettisoned for only prospects. Justin Williams was named the new captain. And the roster changeover was pretty significant. And preseason yielded a first glimpse and a tremendous one at that of what this new era of Hurricanes hockey was supposed to look like under Rod Brind’Amour. The team stormed through preseason taking no prisoners and playing a suffocating brand of hockey with a forecheck on steroids...
The case for trading Justin Faulk

The case for trading Justin Faulk

Two seasons ago, I was early in noticing that Justin Faulk’s level of play defensively had fallen off. Initially, the decline in his play was overshadowed by this scoring and to some degree the fact that his trajectory was supposed to be that of a up and coming young defenseman. With his contract due to end after the 2019-20 season and the off-season addition of two veteran defensemen, I predicted that Faulk would be traded this summer as part of a series of moves to revamp the roster. All indications are that the team tried to do exactly that. Faulk was a regular in the rumor mill all summer and seemingly was spared only because there was not a good return to be had. Faulk started the 2018-19 season in his familiar position in a top 4 defense role except with a new partner in newly-acquired Calvin de Haan. Be it due to help from de Haan or due to Faulk just playing at a higher level, Faulk has rebounded nicely in 2018-19. His scoring has been modest, but significantly his defensive play has improved significantly such that he is back to being a legitimate top 4 defenseman. Faulk’s improvement could swing someone one of two ways. First, one’s inclination could be not to trade Faulk now that he is playing well. But in my opinion, I think Faulk’s elevated play just represents the perfect opportunity to sell high on Faulk, relatively speaking at least. Why I think this is the case is the subject of today’s Daily Cup of Joe.   Justin Faulk’s contract situation Faulk is scheduled...
Canes quick hitters — Micheal Ferland, Dougie Hamilton and Curtis McElhinney

Canes quick hitters — Micheal Ferland, Dougie Hamilton and Curtis McElhinney

Today’s Daily Cup of Joe offers a short set of quick hitters.   Micheal Ferland I completely understand the potential trade value of Micheal Ferland and am even on record as being okay with the team trading Ferland at the trade deadline if the return is high enough. But at the same time, he continues to impress. Ferland started fast with Aho/Teravainen and admittedly has not been as impressive since his short layoff with a concussion. But he possesses a unique/difficult to find skill set. He plays an old school, heavy game but importantly does it in the form of a player who can skate the pace of today’s NHL game, and he does it in the form of a player who has enough skill to be a strong complementary scorer on a first or second line. Finally, when appropriate he brings a nastiness and ability to stand up for team mates that still has a small but important place in today’s NHL. By no means is Ferland irreplaceable, but it would literally take a couple different players each filling pieces of Ferland’s role to do so. It will be interesting to see how his contract situation works out. I still do not like the risk/return metrics for a long-term deal for maximum dollar for Ferland, but increasingly I hope that the Hurricanes and Ferland can find some middle ground and keep him in the fold.   Dougie Hamilton His scoring run that has him in double digits for goals has coincided with the Hurricanes starting to win more games. What stands out about Hamilton is how much he...
Big game hunting in the NHL trade market

Big game hunting in the NHL trade market

Last week, I wrote a short ‘quick hitters’ article on the upcoming 2019 NHL trade deadline. Since then, the Hurricanes have made modest progress toward playing their way up and into playoff contention for March. As such, I think my comments on the Canes as trade deadline buyers is even more relevant: The Hurricanes as buyers I would not be surprised to see the Hurricanes use the busy time to make a trade for a player with term on his contract who would be part of the team past the 2018-19 season, but I would not expect the Hurricanes to be players in the bidding wars for high-end rental players who are free agents at the end of the season. As I said above, maybe if the Hurricanes trade Ferland, the team spends modestly to back fill that slot.   Even if the Hurricanes are firmly in contention as the trade deadline approaches, I do not see the team as players in the high-end rental market. Maybe the Hurricanes spend a mid-round pick to add short-term help, but if the Hurricanes do a deal, I think it would more likely be a long-term addition. In that vein, today’s Daily Cup of Joe goes big game hunting in looking for potential difference-makers who could be boost the Hurricanes fortunes via trade.   Identifying the needs Again, looking longer term more so that pinpointing February of 2019, the team’s biggest need continues to be adding a higher-end scoring forward or two. More specifically, I think the hole in the lineup continues to be a second center capable of driving a scoring line...
The Hurricanes’ path ahead

The Hurricanes’ path ahead

On Saturday afternoon, I seemingly jinxed the Hurricanes when I said on Twitter: #Canes play 6 of next 8 against current non-playoff teams before challenging March schedule. Need to #KeepPushing. — Canes and Coffee (@CanesandCoffee) February 9, 2019 On cue, the Hurricanes lost the first of those eight games to the bottom team in the Metropolitan Division. As I said in my game recap, Sunday’s loss magnifies the importance of Tuesday’s road trip finale in Ottawa. A win still nets a very successful 4-1 road trip. I would happily have taken that before the trip started. But a loss on Tuesday gives up most of what was gained in converting the road trip into a treading water 3-2. After that, the rest of February primarily features teams in the bottom third of the NHL. The Hurricanes do play the Dallas Stars both at home and on the road, but other than that the Hurricanes face a number of teams who are more in the mix for lottery consideration than playoff contention. At home the Hurricanes also see the Oilers, Rangers and Kings. The non-Dallas road games are Ottawa and Florida. It is important that the Hurricanes take advantage of the theoretically friendly schedule for the rest of February. The March schedule looks like a gauntlet for some stretches. The team plays five back-to-back sets out of 16 games and also sees a much heavier helping of teams destined for the playoffs. With Sunday’s loss, the Hurricanes are back to two points out of a playoff spot (adjusted or games played) with the Penguins the closest team. The target should...
Early look at Carolina Hurricanes 2019-20 salary cap

Early look at Carolina Hurricanes 2019-20 salary cap

Last summer when the Hurricanes traded away Jeff Skinner for futures and did not make any big salary additions via free agency or trade, many were grumbling that Tom Dundon and the new management/ownership regime were cheap. A simple look at the salary rankings shows the Hurricanes dead last in the NHL for 2018-19 could be evidence that the grumbling was justified. But if one looks forward to 2019-20 and beyond, the Hurricanes spending on salary is set to grow significantly just keeping the players already in the organization. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe takes an early look at the Carolina Hurricanes 2019-20 salary situation.   2018-19 Carolina Hurricanes salary Right now, CapFriendly shows the Hurricanes with a $63.4 million cap hit against a $79.5 million salary cap ceiling. It is the size of this gap that had fans grumbling that the team should spend more.   2019-20 Carolina Hurricanes Salary But that number will grow significantly for the 2019-20 season.   Current contract continues into 2019-20 ($40.4 million for 11 players) 4 Forwards: Nino Niederreiter, Andrei Svechnikov, Warren Foegele, Lucas Wallmark. 6 Defensemen: Dougie Hamilton, Jaccob Slavin, Justin Faulk, Brett Pesce, Calvin de Haan, Trevor van Riemsdyk. 0 Goalies. The blue line is already under contract except for Haydn Fleury who is a restricted free agent.   Returning players on new contracts ($15.4 million for 3 players) 3 Forwards: Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen, Jordan Martinook. 0 Defensemen. 0 Goalies. The wild card here is Sebastian Aho. I put him in the budget for $8 million yearly for his new contract. Based on his current scoring pace, I think...