Today’s Daily Cup of Joe offers a quick burst of Canes notes that have not made it into another article yet or are covered in more detail here.
As far as anything official, Brett Pesce who missed the tail end of the 2017-18 season with a shoulder injury, his usage thus far in training camp has looked odd to me. For the first practice sessions, Slavin, Hamilton, de Haan and Faulk were in one group and Pesce was in the other spending time with Jake Bean. Brind’Amour said very clearly not to read much into combinations in early practices, but the paranoid part of me figures Pesce for a top 4 defenseman and would logically expect him to be practicing with that group. If he plays regular minutes in Wednesday’s preseason game that would sort of put a stake in the sand that says the injury is behind him and that he is tracking to be ready by early October.
WEDNESDAY NOTE ADDED: Pesce is in the lineup for Wednesday’s game, so I guess we can close this one. The watch shifts to getting an early read on how Brind’Amour plans to build his blue line with arguably five top 4 defensemen and only 4 slots plus the need to bump someone (likely Fleury) out of the bottom pairing.
UPDATE TO UPDATE: Pesce seems to be on the lineup card but not in the lineup? I guess we will see at game time, but perhaps paranoia is still in order.
One thing that stood out to me in watching Petr Mrazek in Tuesday’s game was his puck handling. One game is not enough to make a deep assessment, but at a basic level he looked to be stronger in this regard than Scott Darling. I think that is significant for the Hurricanes. The team’s transition from defense to offense benefited significantly with Ward in net as compared to Darling. With the Darling part of the netminding duo again, the could again have a weird situation where it actually plays differently in terms of handling and advancing the puck out of its own end depending on who is in net, but I still think you take upgraded puckhandling when you can get it.
Greg McKegg (or similar) as a lightning rod
One of the things I have beaten to death from the end of the 2017-18 season until now is the need for a reset in terms of mentality, attitude or whatever else you want to call it. One thing said by each and every team in the NHL but adhered to at a pure level by very few is the mantra of “earning ice time”. Bill Peters struggled mightily with this. Not surprisingly Brind’Amour has said the same thing. But in a world with salary considerations, waiver rules and other things that dictate roles from a legalize angle, the question is open on how purely Brind’Amour will adhere to this mantra.
Enter Greg McKegg. In my opinion, he was in the top handful of Hurricanes forwards in Tuesday’s game. What is more, he exemplified playing with pace and aggressively hounding the puck in all three zones. No way is one preseason game going to vault a veteran AHLer up into an NHL role over a promising group of rookie forwards. But what if McKegg continues on his current trajectory and is better than the younger options?
Jordan Martinook at center
Though he would be a logical candidate as a veteran who played center a few years back, Martinook could be a candidate to the fill the center slot that opened up when it was announced that Victor Rask would be out long-term with an injury. I wrote in some detail about the prospect of replacing Victor Rask earlier this week.
Martinook fits as a defensively capable but offensively limited center option for sort of an old school fourth line. So at that basic level, he could make sense. But I think that anyone who wants to go that route has an incredibly short Canes memory. Last summer, the team added Marcus Kruger who was admittedly scoring-lite but was thought to be the perfect anchor for a fourth/checking line that could hold its own playing behind Jordan Staal’s shutdown line. What became clear to me was that trying to hold your own without scoring at at least a modest clip by simply shutting out opponents just does not work in today’s NHL. Good teams have depth lines that can score some, so if a line scores virtually nothing, it is just a recipe for building up a minus. In that regard, I think the Hurricanes are better-served slotting a young player with a bit more playmaking upside into the fourth line center slot and leaving the scoring-lite grinders to the wings.
To be clear, I think Martinook can serve a valuable role especially if he excels on the penalty kill, but I just think there are better options for that fourth center slot.
What say you Canes fans?
1) (I have been too busy to make many rounds of the team’s audio) Has anyone else heard anything concrete on Brett Pesce that can ease my paranoia before seeing him in the preseason lineup?
2) Where do you think Brind’Amour will land when it comes to ‘earn your ice time’? People like to talk as if this could be absolute, but that is not a realistic reality. But will Brind’Amour be closer to the pure version of this, and if so, could Greg McKegg or someone from off the radar win a slot and at the same time make an early statement?
3) What are your thoughts on trying again to succeed with a scoring-lite center leading and possibly limiting the fourth line offensively?
4) Who has other random Canes notes?