Below are a collection of recent random thoughts that have not made it into other posts:
1) Andrej Nestrasil
Of the young depth players currently (would put Terry, Nash, Nordstrom in this category) on the Canes roster, I like his chances the best to stick longer-term with the Canes. He is not outstanding in any single area, but he does not have any significant weaknesses and is generally at least good in many areas sort of in a Jiri Tlusty kind of way. He is big enough to play a power forward and cycling game on the boards but has decent mobility. He is good enough defensively to fit on a checking line but also brings some offensive ability. I have especially liked his play with Jordan Staal. That duo with Joakim Nordstrom has done the heavy lifting in terms of defensive match ups but has also scored enough.
2) The kids on D (Hanifin, Pesce, Slavin)
I think this group will continue to develop way faster than even optimistic hopes from this summer. The reason is because all 3 are incredibly advanced for their age in terms of skating ability. I am not talking simply about being able to go fast in a simple straight line. Rather, all 3 are way ahead of their age in terms of technical skating – stopping/starting, changing direction, balance with contact, basic quickness and speed, etc. This skating ability allows some margin for error in terms of positioning and decision-making and also makes them capable of matching NHL pace out of the gate not working to try to get there.
3) Justin Faulk
His goal scoring pace is truly astounding. He scored 15 goals last season, but even still had you told me that he would finish with 12-14 goals this season, I would not have been disappointed. Instead he has 11 only 28 games into the season.
I also loved his first intermission interview on Friday night. Seeing his interview with 6-7 hockey nicks on his face and talking about wanting to get to the playoffs is why I can support Hurricanes hockey even during down times.
4) Noah Hanifin
I really like his play for the last few games. His 2 assists on Tuesday were both primary assists of the kind where he made plays to create offense not the kind where he just happened to touch the puck before someone else scored. I have been hollering for a few weeks that I wanted him to be more assertive carrying the puck. The glimmers of this are starting to be more regularly which is encouraging.