Calling It Now: 10 Premonitions for the 2017-18 Carolina Hurricanes Season by Cory Fogg

Calling It Now: 10 Premonitions for the 2017-18 Carolina Hurricanes Season by Cory Fogg

Matt’s quick introduction: This week we will introduce the 2017-18 writing team at Canes and Coffee with a short series of articles that takes a look into the crystal ball and/or previews the 2017-18 Carolina Hurricanes season. Up first is Cory Fogg who I am thrilled to have back for a second season at Canes and Coffee. Cory’s writing will run the gamut, but his specialty is writing feature articles that go in depth on a particular topic. Welcome back Cory!   As we count down to opening night, we all have our thoughts on what’s going to happen. Really the only givens over the past nine years have been that ‘we won’t make the playoffs’ and the opener is better known as “The Game with the Most Hurricanes Fans in Attendance All Season’. Many Caniacs, myself included, believe that this season is the first year in that span with a real chance of getting out of Rebuilding Mode and into Playoff Mode. My roommate and I, both half season-ticket holders, always enjoy going through the season playing Nostradamus over what’s going to happen next. The phrase “Calling it now” is often heard in our domain, usually followed by some ridiculous premonition that we’re only saying so that we can have ‘In-House Hockey Genius’ bragging rights. Or just the sound of hot air expanding in our heads.  In any case, with the Hurricanes season now here, I thought it would be fun to channel my inner hockey clairvoyant for all of you. Because, obviously, the more people who know, the higher the ego boost if I’m right. So without...
Carolina Hurricanes 2017-18 Season Preview: Part 2-What does it take to make the playoffs?

Carolina Hurricanes 2017-18 Season Preview: Part 2-What does it take to make the playoffs?

Though the reasons for optimism continued to grow, in many ways the Carolina Hurricanes 2016-17 season followed a fairly typical pattern. The team struggled out of the gate and found itself in a hole standings-wise by the beginning of December. Then right about when it seemed to appropriate to just take a complete write off the entire season a couple things clicked and the team charted a course higher. The resurgence offered reason for hope, but the team never really did climb all the way back into the playoff chase. The season wrapped up with a second half that offered reason for optimism but a season in total that was not good in enough in a league where 16 of 30 (now 31) teams make the playoffs. With the team gradually trending upward, young players maturing and Francis making a couple significant ‘win now’ moves over the summer, the 2017-18 season is not one for ‘sticking to the plan,’ ‘continuing to improve,’ ‘hoping to have a chance in March,’or similar. It’s time. It’s time for the Hurricanes to push back into the playoffs. With some themes that were also in part 1 of my preview that came at it more from a player angle, here are three keys to making the playoffs for the 2017-18 season.   1) The goaltending must improve The Hurricanes goaltending has been near the bottom of the league by many measures over the past few years. Winning in the NHL without a ton of Hart Trophy type players is difficult. Winning in the NHL without a ton of Hart Trophy type players while trying...
Carolina Hurricanes 2017-18 Season Preview: Part 1-Four pillars and 5(+) upsides

Carolina Hurricanes 2017-18 Season Preview: Part 1-Four pillars and 5(+) upsides

I thought about doing some long step-wise lead up to the critical points of the 2017-18 Carolina Hurricanes season, but the the playoff-less streak at eight seasons and the sense of urgency increasing, I am instead going to lead with the important stuff and follow up with other details afterward. An important starting point is recognizing that the nature of the NHL game especially in today’s day and age requires contributions from all 20 players on the roster. Even the #6 defenseman will play 13-15 minutes and will be targeted by opposing coaches making that role potentially make or break for any given game despite its ranking way down the depth chart. The backup goalie will not figure at all in a large number of games, but he is very clearly front and center for a large chunk of schedule estimated to be 25-30 games for the Hurricanes this season. And though the fourth line will usually see fewer minutes and might even get skipped in the rotation late in close games, those players often man the all-important penalty kill which sees the other teams’ best players with a good chance to score. In addition to recognizing that all 20 players on the roster plus likely 4-7 more who see action because of injuries or search for a spark during a long NHL season, it is important to recognize that the next leg up for the Hurricanes requires players who have plateaued as productive players further in their careers to continue to perform at a similar level. The crux of this article focuses on young players who have the...
Menu for ‘Back to School’ series on Carolina Hurricanes prospects

Menu for ‘Back to School’ series on Carolina Hurricanes prospects

For those who do not check in daily or who find this closer to the start of hockey season, here is a menu with clickable links (player names highlighted in red) for the ‘Back to School’ series of articles that provides ‘from the rink’ insight on the Hurricanes prospects below the AHL level. Links will be added as the articles are published.   Carolina Hurricanes 2017 NHL draft class 1st round – Martin Necas (HC Kometa Brno, Czech Extraliga — Czech Republic) 2nd round – Eetu Luostarinen (KalPa, Finnish Liiga — Finland) 2nd round – Luke Martin (University of Michigan, NCAA) 3rd round – Morgan Geekie (Tri-City Americans, WHL) 3rd round – Stelio Mattheos (Brandon Wheat Kings, WHL) 4th round – Eetu Makiniemi (Jokerit U20, Junior A – SM-liiga — Finland) 6th round – Brendan De Jong (Portland Winterhawks, WHL) 7th round – Ville Rasanen (Jokipojat, Mestis — Finland)   Carolina Hurricanes 2016 NHL Draft class 1st round – Jake Bean (Calgary Hitmen, WHL) 1st round – Julien Gauthier (Saint John Sea Dogs, QMJHL) 2nd round – Janne Kuokkanen (London Knights, OHL) 3rd round – Matt Filipe (Northeastern University, NCAA) 3rd round – Hudson Elynuik (Spokane Chiefs, WHL) 3rd round – Jack LaFontaine (University of Michigan, NCAA) 4th round – Max Zimmer (University of Wisconsin, NCAA) 5th round – Jeremy Helvig (Kingston Frontenacs, OHL) 6th round – Noah Carroll (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, OHL)   Carolina Hurricanes 2015 NHL Draft class 1st round – Noah Hanifin – AT NHL LEVEL 2nd round – Sebastian Aho – AT NHL LEVEL 3rd round – Aleksi Saarela (Lukko, Finland=>AHL) – Acquired from...
Ranking the Carolina Hurricanes prospects — Part 4: Overall top 15 and parting comments

Ranking the Carolina Hurricanes prospects — Part 4: Overall top 15 and parting comments

If you were away from Canes and Coffee for the weekend, on Saturday I posted part 3C of my prospect evaluations and rankings which featured that last group of forwards. That article also includes links to the previous parts if you are catching up. My wrap up today will combine the rankings for all three positions to create a top 15 and it will also offer a few parting thoughts on the rankings and various players.   Complete Carolina Hurricanes prospect rankings                   **Goalies Nedeljkovic and Booth are boosted above what “Totals” would rank them to account for importance of goalie position and adjust for high uncertainty for almost all young goalie prospects.   A few comments on the rankings Here are a few random observations on the rankings and the project in total. It is less about where a player is today, and more about how rapidly and significantly he can improve from here. Had I created  similar list at this time two years ago today, Brett Pesce and Jaccob Slavin would probably have probably been battling for the #5 slot among defensemen below Noah Hanifin, Haydn Fleury, Trevor Carrick and even Ryan Murphy. And against a lesser prospect pool two years ago, they might/might not have pushed into a top 16. The depth at forward jumps out. Seven of the top 9 are forwards, and there are a at least a few players who did not make the top 16 who are quite promising as well. Despite being ranked #1 and #5 overall respectively, I do not consider Julien Gauthier or...
Hurricanes sign Brett Pesce to six-year contract extension – A second level of detail

Hurricanes sign Brett Pesce to six-year contract extension – A second level of detail

A few hours after the news dropped, I posted my initial thoughts on the Hurricanes extending Brett Pesce for six years at $6.025 million per year. If you have not read that article, I recommend reading it before this article which starts more at a second level of detail. The “sixth star” (an ode to Glen Wesley) Things could change if Pesce finds his way onto the power play and/or boosts his scoring, but the current trajectory has him slotted to be an underrated glue player. A long time ago when Wesley was in his prime, I used to use the term “sixth star” to describe his play. Wesley rarely scored, mostly steered clear of the highlight reel and did not do enough on the stat sheet to regularly be a top 3 and earn a star of the game. But when the Hurricanes were good on home ice, he was very regularly steady and solid lining up against Crosby and/or Malkin one night, Kovalchuk and Heatley the next and Ovechkin and Semin the next. He just quietly did the defensive work necessary to make it possible for a few players to rise up with a few plays on the score sheet and win a hockey game. Players like this are generally underrated but critical to a team’s success. Niklas Hjalmarsson long filled this role on perennially successful Blackhawk teams, and the Penguins have always had a knack for having a capable defense-first defenseman to sit behind more offensive-minded blue-liners like Sergei Gonchar and Kris Letang. It is reasonable to hope for continued development from Pesce who is entering...