Re-sign or replace Brock McGinn?

Re-sign or replace Brock McGinn?

Today’s Daily Cup of Joe continues a series of posts considering options for re-signing or letting go the team’s group of players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents this off-season. First up was Dougie Hamilton. Yesterday was Jordan Martinook.   Comparing/contrasting McGinn and Martinook Up next is Brock McGinn. If one starts from an assumption that improving the team requires keeping some but letting some go from the middle/bottom half of the roster players with unrestricted free agents the easiest to move on, I think it is interesting to compare Jordan Martinook and Brock McGinn. Both players are coming off $2 million contracts. Both players have mostly slotted in the bottom half of the forward group but also been bumped up to higher lines when Brind’Amour shuffles the lineup a bit. And both score high marks for their every shift intensity that can be helpful when when the team is flat and needs a lift. But despite the similarities, I see two significant differences. First, I think McGinn brings more in terms of scoring upside and ability to slot even if only intermittently on a scoring line. In 2020-21, McGinn had eight goals in only 37 games for an 18-goal pace over a full 82-game season. The peak was the burst he had catching fire on a lower line and then riding it for awhile longer on Aho’s line. In terms of raw production, I think McGinn brings more. Like Martinook, McGinn is a good locker room presence, but I think the difference, per the post on Martinook, is that McGinn is more of a lead by example foot...
Hurricanes versus Predators: Xs and Os

Hurricanes versus Predators: Xs and Os

With the NHL still dragging its feet on releasing, we are another day closer to the start of the first round of the NHL playoffs for the Hurricanes but still without knowing when that is. Based on nothing but gut feel and my thoughts on NHL priorities, I predicted on Twitter yesterday that the Hurricanes playoff opener would be slotted for 3pm on Sunday or otherwise a normal 7 or 7:30pm start time on Monday. Here is hoping we get news one way or another today. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe looks at the series from a tactical angle. The Hurricanes were dominant through six games in the season series before falling in the last two. The question is whether the Predators found some new tactics/strategies in the last two games, if the results were at least partly because the Hurricanes had little to play for or if maybe the Predators were just overdue. I think it was mostly a combination of the circumstances, especially for the last game, and maybe a little bit of the Predators just being due to finally win a game or two. That said, I do think a couple carry overs could affect the playoff series. What follows are a list of things to watch as the series progresses.   1) Canes determination to play inside the dots On a good night, the current iteration of the Predators reminds me a bit of the good version of the Columbus Blue Jackets that the Canes have struggled with in past years. The Predators are maybe light on high-end scoring but are built to fare well...
Assessing Alex Nedeljkovic and broader goalie situation after six starts

Assessing Alex Nedeljkovic and broader goalie situation after six starts

The Hurricanes entered the 2020-21 season with goalie prospect Alex Nedeljkovic ready for an audition at the NHL level but also with it unclear if/how that would happen with two veteran goalies on the depth chart above him. When the team took the chance sending him across waivers to reach the taxi squad versus keeping three goalies and the cap hit at the NHL level, the potential was there for Nedeljkovic’s chance never to happen in a Hurricanes uniform. But Nedeljkovic cleared waivers and Petr Mrazek’s injury created the opening for Nedeljkovic to get a run of games at the NHL level. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe looks at Alex Nedeljkovic’s audition through six games.   Evaluation Especially if one considers the first couple games to be a tune up after not playing in a game for nearly a year and with no preseason games to get up to speed, Nedeljkovic has been good so far. Even counting the first two games that were his weakest, Nedeljkovic now sports a 2.30 goals against average and .924 save percentage to go with a 3-2-1 record. If one gives him a pass on three tune up games after a long layoff, Nedeljkovic’s save percentage in his last three starts is .959. Looking at his body of work in total, he has been good overall. Areas to watch for improvement are his ability to close out games in the third period in his first three starts, he struggled a bit late in games. The other area where he has looked to be in a bit over his head has been defending breakaways....
Anton Forsberg claimed off waivers / Alex Nedeljkovic placed on waivers

Anton Forsberg claimed off waivers / Alex Nedeljkovic placed on waivers

Today the Hurricanes announced that they had claimed Anton Forsberg off of waivers from the Edmonton Oilers. Forsberg was with the Canes primarily in the AHL in 2019-20 before signing with the Oilers as a free agent this off-season. In a related move, the Hurricanes placed goalie Alex Nedeljkovic on waivers possibly to be claimed by this time tomorrow effectively making this a trade.   Anton Forsberg Forsberg is a fairly well-known commodity in these parts having spent the 2019-20 season in the Hurricanes organization primarily at the AHL level. He did play three games for the Hurricanes when Reimer and Mrazek were both injured late in the season. Forsberg is 28 years old and has a decent amount of NHL experience with 48 games at the NHL level spanning five seasons. His most significant evaluation point for being an NHL regular or late bloomer as a starter came in 2017-18 when he played 35 games for the Blackhawks. In that season, he posted a modest .908 save percentage with a 2.97 save percentage and was not re-signed by the Blackhawks. Based on his age and track record, I view Forsberg as a high-end #3 goalie. In today’s NHL, teams are increasingly paying a third goalie with NHL experience to have depth and stocking them in the AHL when possible. The challenge is waivers. The Hurricanes obtained Curtis McElhinney in a similar situation. So putting the machinations of NHL waiver/roster/salary cap rules to the side, I like Forsberg as a proven and capable #3 NHL goalie, but importantly I do not think he has much upside from there at...
Questions down the middle

Questions down the middle

Almost always, good hockey teams are especially strong at the center position. Teams that face a regular deficit at that position tend to struggle overall. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe takes a look at the Canes down the middle at a time when there are definitely some question marks.   2019-20 The Hurricanes made an off-season move to acquire Erik Haula to fill out the center position entering the season. He seemed to fit nicely as a scoring-capable third center. Sebastian Aho had established himself quickly as a legitimate first line center. Jordan Staal was in his familiar slot as a solid, even if scoring light, second line center. And Lucas Wallmark had established himself as a capable fourth line center who could slot higher if needed. That seemed to work reasonably well out of the gate. Staal seemed to start slow but that was not uncommon for him. And that was overshadowed by Haula’s fast start on the score sheet. But by the midway point of the season, the situation had deteriorated a bit. Haula’s early season scoring was largely on the power play as a finisher, and he never really established himself as a playmaker/catalyst for third line scoring. Staal’s slow start continued making it look like maybe he was just a half step slower and not quite at the same level as previous years. And Wallmark was fine for fourth line center but probably not the guy to bump up into Haula’s slot. With the team sputtering a bit, General Manager Don Waddell made his second move in five months to try to add a center...
2020 NHL Playoffs — Gm3 @NYR: James Reimer leads Canes to win and series sweep

2020 NHL Playoffs — Gm3 @NYR: James Reimer leads Canes to win and series sweep

Entering with a 2-0 lead in the series, one had to figure that the New York Rangers would muster a push in game three. And that is exactly what happened.   Recap of the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1 win over the New York Rangers Whereas the Hurricanes were the more aggressive team by a wide margin in game one (and to a slightly lesser extent in game two), the Rangers very clearly had the upper hand early in Tuesday’s game. Only 3:33 into the game, Sami Vatanen was caught flat footed, beaten and then took a penalty. And just in general, the Hurricanes spent much of the period under duress. Fortunately for them, the best player on the ice in the first period and probably the second period too was James Reimer. The early Rangers power play for him involved early, and he never missed a beat making save after save to keep the Hurricanes in the game. The first period ended with the Rangers mounting a 14 to 6 shot advantage but a 0-0 tally on the scoreboard. But maybe being paid late for a strong first period, the Rangers scored only 12 seconds into the second period when a quick up from the defensive blue line found Jaccob Slavin out of position maybe watching the wrong player. Vatanen did not have the giddy up to help across fast enough, Chris Kreider marched in and finished mostly alone. The Hurricanes would counter pretty quickly when Andrei Svechnikov fed Teuvo Teravainen streaking to between the circles for a pretty backhand finish. From that point forward, the rest of the second...