Today’s Daily Cup of Joe has an assortment of Canes comments.
Increasingly, I think Andrei Svechnikov’s ceiling is actually higher than Sebastian Aho’s. That might sound crazy given that Aho is coming off a point per game season, is roughly on track to repeat that and could still have upside at 22 years old. But with a power forward element to his game and his growing ability to finish, I think Svechnikov has a diverse enough tool bag to become an elite scorer.
In that vein, I think the Hurricanes have an interesting two-year window to try to build the best team possible to see where that takes them in the playoffs. The Hurricanes are a young team, so by no means are they about to run out of time or hit the age wall as happens to many teams. But per my comments above, with Svechnikov on pace for a massive raise after the 2020-21 season when Hamilton is also up for renewal, the Hurricanes will suddenly be up against the salary cap and be limited in their ability to add players. As I have written about a couple times, that is not true for 2020-21. The Canes free up about $7 million cap space that is not even allocated to current players (Marleau and small retention on Faulk contract). So if management wanted, the team has some budget to go after it next season. Another factor is Jordan Staal. I think the increased number of obstruction type penalties that Staal has taken this season are a harbinger for a different day when Staal is still a good player but maybe just is not an elite defender anymore.
Since the injury to Dougie Hamilton, Jaccob Slavin has done an adequate job filling in on the power play. But the subtle but critical difference between the two is Slavin’s lack of instincts/feel for when to creep into a shooting position as the puck moves around. Hamilton both pressured the defense and generated scoring chances and goals by having a knack for knowing when/where to step up to the top of the face-off circle to receive and shoot. Meanwhile, Slavin tends to always be sitting high right around the blue line. The result is that he is less likely to score a ton on the power play and maybe equally significantly makes it a bit easier on opposing penalty kills that do not so much have to account for Slavin knowing where he will be.
As much as anyone other player, Martin Necas could be a key for the Hurricanes finding a higher gear and playing their way up the depth chart of the NHL. With Staal gradually taking on a lesser role over the coming years, the Canes need another top 6 center ideally with the ability to drive a second scoring line. Lucas Wallmark has established himself in the NHL. Morgan Geekie continues to make strides in the AHL. But of the players currently in the system for the Hurricanes, I do not think any have the potential upside as Necas as a playmaking second line center. There is a ton of uncertainty with this possibility with the need for Necas to successfully move back to center, but I think the upside and potential are there too.
What say you Canes fans?
1) What do you see as Andrei Svechnikov’s ceiling in terms of points, goals or whatever?
2) Acknowledging that the Canes window of opportunity will not suddenly close altogether, what do you make of my assertion that one of the bets opportunities could be next season?
3) What are your thoughts on my other notes above?