Burning questions for the Carolina Hurricanes for the offseason

Burning questions for the Carolina Hurricanes for the offseason

With the 2018 NHL Playoffs now a couple games deep into the Conference Finals, the offseason is rapidly approaching. On the path to the offseason frenzy which starts in earnest in June, the Hurricanes have already been busy rebuilding its front office, firing and replacing the head coach, winning the #2 overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft and even making a trade already. With a new owner, a significant change in management and another playoff miss in the rear view mirror, the team has many questions that must be answered this summer hopefully on the path to finally making a return to the playoffs for the 2018-19 season. I preface my list of questions by saying that I think the Hurricanes will need to improve primarily from the existing roster reaching a higher level or true player trades that see the team give up a player of value to obtain one back. I think those who think the team can keep what it has and somehow add 2-3 significant players without subtraction are misguided. As such, my list of ‘burning questions’ is heavy on trying to locate potential improvement from the current roster and the prospect pool. With that, here is a sizable list of burning questions to be addressed this summer:   1) Which, if any, top half of the roster players depart and for what in return? The one thing that seems inevitable is change. I will be most surprised if the Hurricanes just forge forward through the summer and return to the ice in September with mostly the same group. The burning question is who...
Canes catch up and discussion points – Martin Necas, Jeff Skinner, James van Riemsdyk and Alex Nedeljkovic

Canes catch up and discussion points – Martin Necas, Jeff Skinner, James van Riemsdyk and Alex Nedeljkovic

Friday’s Daily Cup of Joe laid out a detailed case for where Victor Rask could theoretically fit into the 2018-19 lineup. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe offers a collection of thoughts on individual players similar to the Rask article but briefer.   Martin Necas More than any other player other than perhaps Jordan Staal who is many years established at the position, I see Martin Necas as a center. That includes over Sebastian Aho for whom I have a slight preference to play him at center but also think that he brings nearly as much playing as a wing. Based primarily on my assessment of Necas during game action in prospect camp, Traverse City and preseason, I do not think the current version of Necas’ skill set translates nearly as well to a shift to wing. He is at his best skating into the teeth of the defense with the puck on his stick, and his playmaking ability is significantly more advanced than his finishing ability at this point in his career. As such, I think he either makes the Hurricanes as a center next season or otherwise starts at the center position in the AHL.   James van Riemsdyk I am leery of what his next contract could be and might ultimately prefer to pass if term and price get out of hand for a 29-year old player who has high-end finishing capability but also gaps in his game. But if the Hurricanes did add him, I think he is a great fit to boost the Aho/Teravainen combination to the next level. Van Riemsdyk brings size and finishing...
The case and possible place for Victor Rask

The case and possible place for Victor Rask

I touched on this topic recently but wanted to go into it in more depth. Hence, today’s Daily Cup of Joe considers the case and place for Victor Rask.   Acknowledging the offensive struggles of the 2017-18 season A starting point is acknowledging that the 2017-18 season in total was not a good one for Victor Rask. He had too many stretches of invisible, and his meager 31 points in 71 games as a top 9 forward just do not cut it especially considering his $4 million salary. So the aim of this article is not to defend Victor Rask’s 2017-18 season in total.   But also recognizing Rask’s ‘high floor’ But for as much as Rask struggled to produce offensively, the defensive part of Rask’s game which is not exciting but is generally sound functions independently of his offensive game. The result is that even when his offensive production was spiraling downward, it did not creep into other areas of his game with gambling to score more or just playing with defensive issues that stemmed from struggles on the offensive side of the puck. The result was that despite underperforming offensively, Rask’s line still held its own 5-on-5. Over 71 games of not enough offense, Rask was still even in terms of plus/minus which ranks only behind the dynamic duo of Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen who were the only plus forwards (not counting short-timers Zykov and Foegele). When you net it out, even the struggling version of Rask’s game tends to tread water because of decent two-way play that seems to be unaffected by his offense.  ...
In Rod We Trust

In Rod We Trust

Today at high noon, Rod Brind’Amour was officially introduced as the new head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes in a press conference alongside owner Tom Dundon and now official general manager Don Waddell. The press conference is well worth the investment of your time to gain a little bit of insight into Rod Brind’Amour as a head coach on his first full day officially on the job but more significantly to feel the positive vibe emanating out from the media room at PNC Arena. Especially for those who are negative or on the fence on this move, I encourage you to watch the press conference and suck in some of the positive energy. As a Canes hockey fan, you deserve it. I originally called for Rod Brind’Amour to be named interim coach on March 14 after one of many debilitating losses during the 2017-18 season. To be clear, my intent at that time was simply to make a statement, put a stake in the ground and move forward. One has to wonder if not for the financial situation that ultimately enabled Dundon to see Peters to the door without risking paying him for next season if in fact he would have been on in mid-March. More recently on April 25, I posted a reasonably balanced set of pros and cons on the potential for Rod Brind’Amour to be the next head coach. And yesterday after the announcement that Brind’Amour had been named head coach, I penned some additional notes on the situation. To be clear, I stand by my original preference for a coach with more head coach experience, and...
Rod Brind’Amour named head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes

Rod Brind’Amour named head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes

  One of the challenges of running a daily hockey site in my free time is the seemingly uncanny ability for big events to happen when they do not fit with other obligations. For the paid media, they just shift whatever else they are doing around because it is part of their job. Hence the delay covering today’s big news. I mostly covered the topic in my article addressing the pros and cons of Brind’Amour as an option on April 25. But Rod Brind’Amour officially named as the head coach, let me add a bit to my thoughts from a couple weeks ago.   He is the right type of player to be a good head coach The NHL like pretty much every other sport is littered with stories of great players who were not even remotely successful at coaching. Playing and coaching are two completely different skill sets despite being within the same profession. As such, it is a risky move to put a player with no head coaching experience or success at any level in a head coaching role at the NHL level. No doubt, there is a chance that this move fails. But risk noted, I do think that because of the type of player that Rod Brind’Amour was that he is the right kind of player to succeed as a coach. His strength as a player was not raw skill. His strengths were his work ethic and effort and also his leadership. Those traits, especially the latter, translate well to coaching. The work ethic thing is tricky because even if Brind’Amour leads well, it just...
Interesting proxy/measure for the Carolina Hurricanes’ top-end scoring talent as compared to the league

Interesting proxy/measure for the Carolina Hurricanes’ top-end scoring talent as compared to the league

In my hockey travels today, I happened upon an article by Pete Jensen at NHL.com with a fantasy hockey slant and an early top 100 ranking for forwards for the 2018-19 season. Pete’s stuff is generally good read if you are fantasy hockey inclined and interesting in many cases even if you are not. In this case, I found the article interesting in terms of measuring distribution of true first line scoring talent by team. Since fantasy hockey is largely focused on scoring, fantasy hockey rankings are a decent even if not perfect proxy for scoring. To be clear, that is not to say that a scoring-focused fantasy hockey slant correctly measures a players’ overall value, but it is decent for a back of the envelope measure of raw offensive fire power.   Where Hurricanes players land The Hurricanes did not place a single player in the top 50 and placed only Sebastian Aho at #62 and Teuvo Teravainen at #76 in the top 100. Jeff Skinner was only in the ‘just missed’ category. First, I think it is fair to debate whether the Hurricanes were short-changed. Because of his short but impressive track record and room for upside, I would rate Aho higher than 62. And even coming off of bit of a down season, I would have Skinner in the top 100 of an offense-only ranking. But nonetheless, the rankings do represent one view of how the Hurricanes top players stack up offensively across the league.   How the Hurricanes stack up against other teams At an average level, it breaks out like this… The NHL has...