Today’s Daily Cup of Joe has a small collection of Canes odds and ends.
Don’t look now but Sebastian Aho is now on pace for 47 goals. That is an absolutely massive number in today’s NHL. If his slow October is excluded, the pace jumps to 54 over an 82-game season. Aho is on the brink of becoming the team’s all-time greatest goal scorer if he is not already there.
Weekly back-to-backs with travel for the 2nd game
When the Hurricanes play Toronto on Saturday for the second half of a back-to-back on the road, it will be the first of seven straight weekends that feature a back-to-back with a roadie for the second game. There are other factors too and more than anything it is about playing well, but how the Canes fare in these games could decide the season.
His 2019-20 season increasingly reminds me of Andrei Svechnikov’s rookie season in 2018-19. Last year, Svechikov looked physical capable of competing at the NHL level in terms of matching pace and being able to work with line mates. And he also showed flashes of the skill set that made the #2 overall draft pick. But as would be expected, the defensive part of his game was a work in progress (biggest problem being the stick infractions), and he was also prone to some dry spells. He finished the season showing he had the skill set set but also not really there yet with a modest 20 goals and 37 points. Fast forward to the current season, and Martin Necas similarly shows flashes of high-end school but is also one of the Canes forwards who has the tendency to float at times in the defensive zone. And like Svechnikov last year, Necas is on target for a respectable scoring total. He has a shot to match Svechnikov’s 20 goals and is current only target to better his point total, as he reached up into the low to mid-40s. Given what Svechnikov has done in his second year, this comparison is incredibly exciting.
Now with a good amount of run time without Hamilton, I was thinking about where the team really misses him. A few areas stand out. Top of the list is the power play. Watching Hamilton versus Slavin is striking. More than any other defenseman in Canes history, Hamilton has an incredible knack for how/where/when to step into openings to become a fourth forward often in a good shooting position. Hamilton does not so much beat goalies with massive blasts like Justin Faulk did a few years back. Rather, Hamilton beats them more so by creating a lane to receive and shoot from the top of the face-off circles or closer. When I watch Slavin on the power play, the thing that stands out most is how much time he spends up along the blue line. He just does not have the fourth forward instincts that are second nature for Hamilton. Overtime is another area where Hamilton is missed. Overtime is basically position-less hockey where skating ability is critical. and the ability to defend 1-on-1 like defensemen is important. Hamilton is made for this. He skates well, can defend and again brings the fourth forward (though technically third in overtime) to the game. Less exciting but maybe even more important, Dougie Hamilton was having a solid season in a first pairing role defensively. To amass a plus 30 in only 47 requires not just scoring but also keeping the puck out of the net behind you. Hamilton did that well too in 2019-20.
What say you Canes fans?
1) Do you think Sebastian Aho’s scoring pace is truly appreciated by those around the NHL or even by Canes fans for that matter?
2) What are your thoughts on Martin Necas’ rookie season thus far?
3) In what area of the game do you think the Canes most miss Dougie Hamilton?