Notes from Carolina Hurricanes first day of practices – Erik Haula, Martin Necas and Bill Burniston

Notes from Carolina Hurricanes first day of practices – Erik Haula, Martin Necas and Bill Burniston

Hockey is back!!!! As I said on Twitter shortly after joyfully scampering into PNC Arena for Friday’s practices: Nothing better than walking into chilly feeling and hearing the whish..whish..whish…of skates and clackety clack of pucks and sticks. — Canes and Coffee (@CanesandCoffee) September 13, 2019 Today’s Daily Cup of Joe looked at the possible roster battle and/or depth chart positioning for the forward position. And below are notes from Friday’s two practices.   First impression – Erik Haula One of my watch points for the first practice was newcomer Erik Haula. As a former Western Conference player, my watch points on him were minimal prior to joining the team, so the start of training camp is a chance to start matching up my assessment to my impressions of him prior largely from research. In the drills as lines, he skated with Warren Foegele and Martin Necas. Both of those players skate well and can push pace. Haula looked every bit the part of a player who could match pace which is encouraging given that his 2018-19 season was cut short by a serious leg injury. Two other things that stood out…First, he showed the hands of a finisher in close on multiple occasions. Second, he seemed to be pretty vocal especially for a player new to the group. During the line skating at the end, he spent some time barking at/encouraging one of the players in the group who was struggling a bit. I could not get a helmet number, but thinking is that it might have been fellow Finnish player and youngster Eetu Luostarinen. (If anyone can confirm...
Carolina Hurricanes sign defenseman Jake Gardiner for 4 years at $4.05 million per year

Carolina Hurricanes sign defenseman Jake Gardiner for 4 years at $4.05 million per year

Four days after the announcement that Justin Williams would not be returning at least for the start of the 2019-20 season, the Hurricanes spent the $4M-ish available salary cap in signing defenseman Jake Gardiner to a four-year contract with an average salary of $4.05 million per year. My initial Twitter-size comments are way at the bottom for anyone who cares to start with those. In my article about Justin Williams’ decision, I devoted an entire paragraph to the possibility of targeting Jake Gardiner with the salary cap freed up when I wrote: Also in a Leafs vein, could Jake Gardiner be a bargain basement add. To be clear, I do not see the Hurricanes adding a higher cost defenseman with term to the mix. The team has decent depth for the third pairing. But if Gardiner suddenly becomes available on a one-year ‘prove it’ type deal for say $2 million, he could help the Hurricanes get back to five top four defenseman like 2018-19 and also add much-needed power play help. I missed on the fact that the Canes would not be willing to commit to term, but the basic thesis of continuing to opportunistically add players who are discounted for whatever reason came to fruition.   On Jake Gardiner Gardiner is a proven NHL defenseman who has filled a top 4 role for the Maple Leafs for multiple years. He is a left shot who is capable of playing an offensive game but has at times times been much-maligned for his defensive play. The burning question with Gardiner is whether his defensive play is that problematic or if...
Justin Williams to “step away from the game”

Justin Williams to “step away from the game”

Just in time for a Labor Day brunch, the Carolina Hurricanes announced that Justin Williams would not be joining the team. The wording was interesting in that it did not use the word “retire.” The title read, “Williams Announces Break from NHL.” Inside the team news release, the words “…step away from the game” were used. The word “unsure” was also included and Williams made mention of just not being physically or mentally ready at this point. I recommend reading the full news release as it has a good amount of meaningful comments instead of boilerplate terms.   You first! Who should be the Carolina Hurricanes next captain? Sebastian Aho Justin Faulk Jordan Martinook Brett Pesce Jaccob Slavin Jordan Staal Other (Write in Comments) View Results  Loading ...   Where Justin Williams left off after the 2018-19 season From the very first press conference that Justin Williams did (but Bill Peters somehow missed), he returned to help boost the Carolina Hurricanes back to NHL relevancy. With a contagiously fun vibe around the team established, a return to the playoffs and even playoff success, one could make a strong case that Justin Williams had accomplished what he returned to do. A case could be made that he had done his part to change the trajectory of the team and that timing was right for him to retire from the NHL on a high note. And if that is ultimately what happened (or happens?), Justin Williams will be no less of a great as a Carolina Hurricanes player. But at the same time, there was very clearly a role left for...
Carolina Hurricanes re-sign Brock McGinn (before arbitration) for 2 years at $2.1 million per year

Carolina Hurricanes re-sign Brock McGinn (before arbitration) for 2 years at $2.1 million per year

On Saturday, the Carolina Hurricanes announced that the team had re-signed Brock McGinn to a two-year contract at $2.1 million per year ($1.9 million 2019-20 and $2.3 million in 2020-21). The deal came before the arbitration hearing which was scheduled for Saturday. Below are a few levels of thoughts on Brock McGinn’s signing.   Brock McGinn’s contract I had McGinn at $1.75 million per year and would have been fine with one year or two at that price. In a salary cap world, every dollar counts, but $350,000 will not be what determines if the team is successful going forward. And as far as comparables go, the salary is a reasonable middle ground between a bargain and a higher end that could possibly be justified by McGinn’s 16 goals and 30 points in 2017-18. So if one considers McGinn to be a pure fourth-liner, $2.1 million would be a modest premium. If instead one considers McGinn to be a top 9 forward, that same price is a discount. So if one puts him somewhere in the middle, the price is probably a fair one for his role somewhat similar to Jordan Martinook’s $2 million salary.   Brock McGinn’s role/slot As alluded to above, I view McGinn as a tweener line-wise. Ideally on a good team, I think he gets pushed down to a fourth line role. At the same time, I think McGinn can make a legitimate case for being a physical component in the top 9. When you add in his role on the penalty kill and the fact that he is Nathan Gerbe-like in terms of consistent every...
Carolina Hurricanes sign forward Ryan Dzingel for two years at $3.375 million per year

Carolina Hurricanes sign forward Ryan Dzingel for two years at $3.375 million per year

On Friday, the Hurricanes announced that the team had signed forward Ryan Dzingel to a two-year contract for $3.375 million per year. I will add details to my initial thoughts/comments on Twitter from Friday morning.   Good signing in terms of price vs. value vs. risk 1/? Really good signing by #Canes. Price/risk/caliber of player math is incredibly good for proven middle 6 player. #TakeWarning https://t.co/BlHgo9P1mn — Canes and Coffee (@CanesandCoffee) July 12, 2019 At the simplest level, the signing is a solid non-flashy signing. In Ryan Dzingel, the Hurricanes added a proven middle 6 forward who is coming off a strong season with 26 goals and 56 points. A bit like Erik Haula, Dzingel is another capable forward who at a minimum is above the third line replacement level offensively. Also like Haula (if he recovers to 100 percent after leg injury), Dzingel is another player who is a perfect fit for Brind’Amour’s style that emphasizes pace, pressure and forechecking. Dzingel can fly and naturally plays and aggressive style of hockey. He naturally slots at left wing but could also play on the right side if needed. On a financial level, one has to like this deal. He adds another player with two-term and a reasonable $3.4 million that is the going rate for good third-line forwards in today’s NHL. Dzingel offers upside from a third-line salary as evidenced by his 2018-19 offensive production. The two-year term pegs the risk at an absolute minimum. And the lack of any no-trade/no-movement clauses maximizes flexibility going forward.   Another component for building a second scoring line 2/? Ryan Dzingel is...
Thoughts on the Sebastian Aho offer sheet

Thoughts on the Sebastian Aho offer sheet

Today an NHL rarity occurred, and it involved the Carolina Hurricanes. A few hours into the kick off of NHL free agency, it was announced that the Montreal Canadiens had signed Sebastian Aho to an offer sheet. The headline terms were a five-year deal at $8.454 million per year. But the headline numbers do not tell the whole story. Breakdown of Aho offer sheet: $11.3M SB plus 700k salary in Year 1; $9.87M SB plus 700k salary in Year 2; $6.95 SB plus 750k salary in Year 3; $5.25 SB plus $750k in each of Year 4 and Year 5 — Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) July 1, 2019 The situation is interesting on many levels. Let’s step through at least most of them.   An odd move by the Canadiens By pegging the salary where it is, the Canadiens would have to give up first, second and third round draft picks. Had they gone a bit higher another first round pick would have been added. In that regard, the salary offered looks like a steal for the Canadiens, but that only matters if the Hurricanes do not match it. There are issues with the payment structure (see below), but I would be utterly shocked to see the Hurricanes not match this. So that begs the question of what Montreal was up to. Did they really think that there is a chance that the Hurricanes would decide not to match this fairly modest offer in return for a ‘meh’ set of draft picks? Or did Montreal perhaps just see an easy chance to stick it to another Eastern Conference team? Montreal...