Friday’s Daily Cup of Joe laid out a detailed case for where Victor Rask could theoretically fit into the 2018-19 lineup.
Today’s Daily Cup of Joe offers a collection of thoughts on individual players similar to the Rask article but briefer.
More than any other player other than perhaps Jordan Staal who is many years established at the position, I see Martin Necas as a center. That includes over Sebastian Aho for whom I have a slight preference to play him at center but also think that he brings nearly as much playing as a wing. Based primarily on my assessment of Necas during game action in prospect camp, Traverse City and preseason, I do not think the current version of Necas’ skill set translates nearly as well to a shift to wing. He is at his best skating into the teeth of the defense with the puck on his stick, and his playmaking ability is significantly more advanced than his finishing ability at this point in his career. As such, I think he either makes the Hurricanes as a center next season or otherwise starts at the center position in the AHL.
James van Riemsdyk
I am leery of what his next contract could be and might ultimately prefer to pass if term and price get out of hand for a 29-year old player who has high-end finishing capability but also gaps in his game. But if the Hurricanes did add him, I think he is a great fit to boost the Aho/Teravainen combination to the next level. Van Riemsdyk brings size and finishing importantly in the form of a player who spends a ton of time around the net, can finish there and does not need the puck on his stick much to be an effective scorer. I think that last part is the key. Aho/Teravainen do not need another player who needs the puck to be effective. What they need is another finisher.
More than any other skater (Scott Darling is the only potential rival), Jeff Skinner is the player that the Hurricanes’ brain trust needs to make a big decision on. As an unrestricted free agent after the 2018-19 season, the team needs to either commit long-term to Skinner or otherwise consider trading him while he still has significant value and then repurpose his share of salary budget. Does Brind’Amour see a high-end scorer with more to give if put in a favorable position? Or does Brind’Amour see the player who is a minus player with significant gaps on the defensive side of the puck?
Because of the Charlotte Checkers’ success in 2018-19, I think many overestimate Alex Nedeljkovic’s readiness of the NHL. Nedeljkovic played some of his best hockey of the season in the playoffs, but the story of the team’s regular success was much more that of offensive fire power than goaltending stinginess. No doubt, Nedeljkovic made strides after a difficult 2016-17 season, but he was more of a decent goalie on a good team than the driver of success. But without wishing injury on the Hurricanes goaltending tandem, I hope Nedeljkovic gets at least a short look at the NHL level in 2018-19. The reason is because I think he is more likely to be the type of goalie who seizes the opportunity than the type who just looks obviously ready in the AHL level. Nedeljkovic has always been a big game player, so my thinking is that he could be the type who just rises to the occasion when challenged and thrives. Here is hoping that he gets a look to see if that is the case.
What say you Canes fans?
1) What do others think about my assertion that Martin Necas is very purely a center and should not go ‘the Hurricanes’ way and start at the wing at the NHL level?
2) Do you like James van Riemsdyk? If so, at what term and annual salary? And if the Hurricanes did sign van Riemsdyk, do you see him with Aho/Teravainen or on a different line?
3) What is your personal read on Jeff Skinner, and more significantly, what do you think the read is the Hurricanes brain trust?
4) What are your thoughts on Alex Nedeljkovic and his NHL-readiness?