Today’s Daily Cup of Joe offers a set of quick hitters mostly on finalizing the team’s lineup for opening night.
Does it have to be either/or for Martin Necas and Julien Gauthier?
With Martin Necas penciled into the starting lineup entering training camp and Julien Gauthier surging during the preseason slate, there seems to be a back and forth as to which one will make the opening day lineup. But does it have to be one or the other? Warren Foegele has had a ‘meh’ training camp which continued into Wednesday’s game that saw him miss coverage on the penalty kill for one of Nashville’s goals and then take a bad penalty later. I think the case could also be made that if Necas and/or Gauthier figure it out that their ceiling is higher than a couple other players like Martinook and McGinn. Why be stuck on the expected group? Could it make sense to bump someone else to #13 to make room for both?
The more I think about it, the I think that Joel Edmundson is an underrated part of yesterday’s deal. The party line right now is how deep the Hurricanes are on the blue line. That is true to an extent, but after watching the entire group of depth play in Wednesday’s game against a nearly NHL club, I said the following on Twitter:
Unpopular opinion maybe, but #Canes blue line depth is just that…'depth'. The group of D today who probably slot #7-#12 are maybe capable in a #6 slot but just make too many mistakes to fill in higher than that. Forsberg made it look better than it was at 3-0. #TakeWarning
— Canes and Coffee (@CanesandCoffee) September 26, 2019
The jury is maybe still out on Fleury, but at their current level of play, I do not see any of the depth defensemen as being capable of filling a top 4 slot on a team that plays at a playoff pace. Van Riemsdyk gave the team one possible top 4 fill in, and Edmundson adds another. With sometimes defensively aloof offense-leaning defensemen in Hamilton and Gardiner now inked into the top 4, I think Edmundson or even Edmundson/van Riemsdyk as a unit to backstop the top 4 for Brind’Amour.
The goalie situation
With another strong outing by Anton Forsberg on Wednesday night, there seems to be growing battle for at least the second NHL goalie slot. If the slot was truly dependent on a tryout, I think that would be the case, but I doubt that it is. Anyone with a good memory for the last decade-ish of Hurricanes hockey history knows that preseason goalie play means virtually nothing. Further, the team has an incentive to get Reimer up and going in net after a tough 2018-19 season. If he struggles, the team would obviously reach for help like it did with Darling in 2018-19. But I think ideal is if the Canes can get Reimer going such that he becomes tradeable next summer or sooner to make room for Nedeljkovic to at least audition for the role. Remember that Nedeljkovic will not be waiver exempt in 2020-21, so ideally the team needs to get him enough NHL ice time to see if he is viable at least as a backup next season.
So long story short, at least for opening night, I really think the goalie position is fixed and not subject to change based on a handful of preseason games.
He will not likely play his way into the NHL mix for October, but Morgan Geekie has impressed me this preseason. My first impression of him in rookie camp a couple years back was that he had a pretty diverse set of tools offensively for his young age. He seemed agnostic to passing versus shooting, had a decent shot when receiving passes, could finish in close and just in general looked like the scorer that he was in juniors. The other thing that stood out was how he struggled in terms of acceleration and speed at transition points in the game. The mobility thing could be what determines if he can play at the NHL level or is just a very good AHLer. But in watching him in training camp and preseason, he is really just a good hockey player. His offensive game has grown from a pretty good starting point but maybe more significantly he generally gets it defensively too for a player who leans offense. He just turned 21 in July. It will be interesting to see if he can continue to make strides with his skating and/or if he can just overcome that limitation with enough strength in other areas of his game.
What say you Canes fans?
1) Could there be room in the Hurricanes lineup for both Julien Gauthier and Martin Necas?
2) Could Joel Edmundson wind up playing a significant role on the blue line past just being depth?
3) What are your thoughts on Morgan Geekie’s play thus far in preseason?