Friday’s Daily Cup of Joe took a shot at predicting the cuts that would happen over the weekend. As expected, the Hurricanes cut their roster by 13 on Saturday to get to 40 and then by another 7 on Sunday to get to 33.
Who is left?
Goalie (3): Scott Darling, Cam Ward — Jeremy Smith.
Defenseman (10): Jaccob Slavin, Brett Pesce, Justin Faulk, Noah Hanifin, Trevor van Riemsdyk, Haydn Fleury, Klas Dahlbeck — Trevor Carrick, Jake Chelios, Jake Bean.
Forwards (20): Jordan Staal, Elias Lindholm, Sebastian Aho, Jeff Skinner, Derek Ryan, Lee Stempniak, Victor Rask, Teuvo Teravainen, Justin Williams, Marcus Kruger, Joakim Nordstrom, Josh Jooris, Brock McGinn — Martin Necas, Janne Kuokkanen, Lucas Wallmark, Nicolas Roy, Phil Di Giuseppe, Valentin Zykov, Aleksi Saarela.
How did I do on Friday?
I would give myself a B. I was far from perfect as expected, but I did sort 25 of 30 players correctly into cuts and non-cuts.
I was perfect at the goalie position, figuring that the Hurricanes would keep one extra and that it would be veteran Jeremy Smith.
For 15 AHL-possible forwards, I missed only in flip flopping Valentin Zykov and Warren Foegele. I had Zykov in the AHL and Foegele still at the NHL level, but the reverse occurred.
On the blue line, I again flip flopped one set going 8 for 9. I had Jake Chelios in the AHL and Roland McKeown still at the NHL level and the reverse occurred.
Finally, for the three wild cards, I correctly had Jake Bean and Martin Necas still in training camp but was incorrect in that I thought Gregory Hofmann would get a longer look. He did not.
Assessing who is left
I would not say that anything is shocking.
The name that most jumps out to me is Jake Chelios though one explanation is much less exciting than the other. One interpretation could be that he played his way to very near the top of the AHL/first NHL call up list, but I think there is also just a possibility that Peters is looking for a chance to get him preseason game action. All of Philip Samuelsson, Brenden Kichton, Dennis Robertson and Roland McKeown who were cut have played in the preseason. One might figure that Chelios was kept to get him into a preseason game for evaluation and not so much because he ranks above all of the other players who were already cut. If that is the case, it is not that exciting of a story.
The battle on the blue line
Arguably, the most appealing roster battle right now is for the sixth blue line slot. Haydn Fleury entered camp likely penciled into that slot. He has lived up to expectations in preseason and very much suggested that he is ready for this role. But AHL veteran Trevor Carrick has been at least as good if not better. He leads the team with four points in only two games played and has also played well defensively. The problem is a good one to have with multiple players seemingly capable of filling that slot.
The pack of forwards trying to hunt someone down
While it is not clear that there is an opening to be won at all at forward, the group of players trying to steal something is still a big one. Nicolas Roy is slated to at least play in a preseason game after being on the shelf with a concussion. Valentin Zykov played for the first time on Saturday and impressed enough with a goal and an assist to stay for now. Phil Di Giuseppe, Lucas Wallmark, Janne Kuokkanen, Aleksi Saarela and 2017 draftee Martin Necas make for a large group of 7 extra forwards who all seemingly have a chance to seize a slot as long as they are still in training camp.
How does it end?
Since my Friday predictions were not catastrophic, I will go out on another limb and venture a guess at how it all ends.
On defense, I think Haydn Fleury will ultimately win the final slot on the blue line and that because he is on a two-way contract that Trevor Carrick (along with Jake Chelios) will head back to Charlotte. But along the way, I think Carrick significantly changed his place in the pecking order such that he will be quick recall and could leap frog Klas Dahlbeck if an opening arises in the lineup.
At forward, despite the volume of promising young players, I think it takes an injury to create a long-term opening. Ultimately, I think Peters goes safe, sound and proven with some combination of Marcus Kruger, Joakim Nordstrom, Josh Jooris and Brock McGinn for the fourth line on opening night. If he continues to impress and ideally gets on the score sheet a bit more, I think there is a reasonable chance that Martin Necas could get a short NHL audition, but I think Francis ultimately decides to spend his 2017-18 season developing in Europe or Canadian juniors which causes his entry-level contract to slide forward year.
For Jake Bean, I stand by my assertion on Friday that he would stay until near the end to gain more NHL exposure before returning to juniors for the 2017-18 season.
If there is an injury during preseason at forward, I think Wallmark is positioned really well to hop in if a center is injured, and I think it is a complete free for all if an opening is created for a top 9 wing.
If I had to pick a dark horse…
Assuming no injuries, if I had to pick a dark horse to rise up and seize a roster spot, I would pick Martin Necas first and Janne Kuokkanen second. Martin Necas is first simply because he has been so good. He seems to lean playmaking over shooting. Because of that I think his offense is underestimated based on the statistics because he has not benefited from players finishing his passes. I like Kuokkanen because I view him as being maybe the best combination of scoring upside and sound two-way play at the wing (over Saarela, Zykov and Di Giuseppe). The addition of Marcus Kruger to fill a very specific role and Derek Ryan’s standout play in preseason mean there is no room at center which I think eliminates Nicolas Roy and Lucas Wallmark unless an injury occurs.
What say you Canes fans?
The Monday Coffee Shop will feature similar roster-oriented discussion and polls but feel free to also comment here.