A fresh start

A fresh start

The 2020 NHL Playoffs will represent a fresh start for players across the league in a few ways. First, after a long layoff the games will present the same challenge to get up to speed quickly like at the beginning of the season but with much higher stakes. In addition, for players whose 2019-20 campaign was not going as desired, the August playoffs represent a chance to start anew after an extended reset. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe looks at a few Canes players who could benefit from the reset.   Nino Niederreiter After bursting on the scene in 2018-19 after being acquired via trade and playing a significant role in the team’s playoff push, Nino Niederreiter had mostly struggled to find his way in 2019-20. For a player whose strength can be his ability to produce offensively, 11 goals and 29 points for a 35-point pace for an 82-game season was underwhelming. Possibly trying to do too much, Niederreiter also accumulated 42 penalty minutes with too many of the unnecessary variety. Can some time off and a fresh start be just what the doctor ordered to get Niederreiter on track?   Ryan Dzingel After consecutive 20-goal seasons before joining the Hurricanes, Ryan Dzingel has struggled at least in terms of potting goals a pace that would yield 10 goals over a full 82-game season. Dzingel has had some nice playmaking plays setting up line mates on the way to 29 points in 64 games and has contributed in other ways, but like Niederreiter, Dzingel should have a higher gear in terms of goal scoring. He will get a...
Building a Carolina Hurricanes’ blue line for the 2020 NHL Playoffs

Building a Carolina Hurricanes’ blue line for the 2020 NHL Playoffs

In case you missed it, Monday’s Daily Cup of Joe had thoughts on the Carolina Hurricanes Return to Play roster. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe continues that theme with a deeper dive on the team’s blue line.   Just before the trade deadline, the Hurricanes were decimated with injuries on the blue line. First, Dougie Hamilton’s Norris finalist level season was interrupted. Then Brett Pesce went down. Suddenly, the Hurricanes were minus two of their top four defensemen. With Jake Gardiner making mid-season progress but still really trying to find his way in a Canes uniform, and Haydn Fleury unproven in anything more than a depth role, General Manager Don Waddell reached to the trade market. The team added short-term help in Sami Vatanen who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after the 2019-20 season ends and added longer-term help in Brady Skjei. Skjei stepped into the lineup immediately while Vatanen had setbacks in returning from an injury that existed at the time of the trade. With Gardiner finally starting to settle in and find a higher gear, Skjei jumping into the top four and Fleury playing competent hockey in a top four role, the blue line showed promise of being good enough to support the playoff push down the stretch even minus Hamilton and Pesce. And then it all ended suddenly. Fast forward to mid-July and only 18 days until a scheduled start to the 2019-20 playoffs, and the Hurricanes are suddenly incredibly deep at the blue line. Hamilton who was pushing for a late-season return is now multiple months past a scheduled return. Vatanen who...
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...
Canes players most impacted by the 2019-20 season’s abrupt halt

Canes players most impacted by the 2019-20 season’s abrupt halt

Where has the time gone? It has now been almost exactly three months from when the 2019-20 NHL season was abruptly halted by COVID-19. That sudden shutdown had all kinds of impacts on players’ 2019-20 seasons and in some cases possibly even career trajectories. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe looks at the Carolina Hurricanes players most impacted by the shutdown.   Potential impacts to career trajectories In general, great players who are are capable of being difference makers in the NHL find their way to where the belong. Injuries, crowded depth charts, coaches who do not give enough leeway to young players and other obstacles are always there even in a normal NHL environment. I do think that how these thinks shake out can play a significant role for players whose abilities puts them at the fringe of the NHL and AHL. But for players who have enough ability to be a difference-maker at the NHL level, I mostly think they will find their way. But that said, the current situation is truly unprecedented and the potential does exist to alter the trajectory for a few players who sit at the cusp of the NHL.   Morgan Geekie It is difficult to believe that Morgan Geekie played only two games at the NHL level, but what a two games it was. He posted two goals and an assist and factored in on another goal in a fun 6-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins for his NHL debut. Then two days later he followed it up with another goal in another resounding win over the Detroit Red Wings. If one...
On the brink — Jake Bean and Alex Nedeljkovic

On the brink — Jake Bean and Alex Nedeljkovic

Today’s Daily Cup of Joe steps away from the to be determined, hopefully, maybe status of the 2019-20 season as players return to the ice in small groups hopefully building toward a late summer 2020 NHL Playoffs. Instead of the uncertain here and now, today’s Daily Cup of Joe looks at the most immediate future for the Canes prospect pool. Last summer, the team mostly opted not to pay a premium for veterans like Patrick Brown, Trevor Carrick and others who played key roles in winning the Calder Cup. The team also parted ways with a couple prospects in Nic Roy and Aleksi Saarela who were potentially at the edge of NHL readiness. The combination of moves saw a significant changeover in terms of Canes personnel at the AHL level, but arguably the changes were from players who either did not fit long-term and/or were unlikely to be more than depth NHL players. But now on the clock for the Canes prospect pool are two players with higher pedigree and significant potential upside.   Jake Bean First is Jake Bean who is fresh off of being named the AHL defenseman of the year after a stellar sophomore campaign in Charlotte. For a player drafted in the top half of the draft, his development has been more step-wise than explosive. He played both of his remaining years in juniors after being drafted in 2016 and has now logged two years at the AHL level with only a handful of NHL games. That gradual development puts him behind the type of players who emerge more rapidly. From Bean’s 2016 NHL Draft...
An initial look at the Carolina Hurricanes versus New York Rangers

An initial look at the Carolina Hurricanes versus New York Rangers

For those who missed it, Canes and Coffee made its return from COVID-19 hiatus on Monday. That article started with some personal thoughts on George Floyd and racism in our society and closed with thoughts on the odd 2020 NHL draft situation. You can find that article HERE. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe offers a first, quick look at the Canes match up against the New York Rangers if/when NHL hockey resumes and jumps straight into the playoffs.   Recent results are not promising In 2019-20, the Hurricanes lost to the Rangers in all three match ups by 4-2, 3-2 and 5-3 scores. On top of that, the Hurricanes have traditionally struggled against Henrik Lundqvist. At least on paper, the Canes drew a tough first-round match up. A few notes from the three 2019-20 losses: –The difference in the games which is often the case in the playoffs was the teams’ top players. In three games, Artemi Panarin had 3 goals and 5 assists, Mika Zibanejad had 3 goals and 1 assist. –The Rangers young legs seemed to match up well against the Hurricanes. In large chunks of all three games, the Rangers were the aggressor and had the ice tilted toward the Canes’ net. –With the changing of the guard in process, it is not certain who the Rangers would start, but Lundqvist has historically been a problem for the Canes.   A playoff experience advantage? Only a year ago, the Hurricanes were riding a decade-long playoff drought and had very little in the way of playoff experience heading into the series against the Washington Capitals. The results...