With Erik Haula on the shelf, the Carolina Hurricanes today recalled Eetu Luostarinen from the AHL. He will presumably make his NHL debut on Thursday slotting into the fourth center slot with Lucas Wallmark moving up to the third line.
That the team decided to give Luostarinen a shot over possibly shifting players around and/or recalling a more experienced player like Clark Bishop says a lot about what the team thinks of the 21-year old Finnish center.
Luostarinen is off to a decent start with five goals and two assists in ten games and is getting favorable reviews for his all-around play. That is likely what made him the choice for a call up.
From watching him in preseason, Luostarinen reminds me a bit of Wallmark who he will replace on the fourth line but with a bit more size. I would not consider Luostarinen to be a dynamic or flashy playmaker, but he is mature for his age in terms of understanding the defensive responsibilities of the position and making good read/react decisions pretty consistently. That ability to not be a mess defensively is table stakes to play the center position in a depth role at the NHL level. I think the team’s hope is that Luostarinen will prove to be capable defensively. If that proves to be true, anything else is gravy.
I would expect Luostarinen and the fourth line to garner regular shifts early in the game, but depending on Brind’Amour’s read on his readiness and the score of the game, his ice time could be throttled back as the game progresses.
Luostarinen is obviously just short-term help until Haula returns, but sometimes young players with NHL aspirations are able to use unscheduled opportunities like this to seize a role. That plus watching a young player realize a dream of making the NHL makes Eetu Luostarinen worth watching on Thursday if he is in fact in the lineup.
What say you Canes fans?
1) Are you surprised that the team did not go with a known quantity like Clark Bishop?
2) To what degree do you expect Head Coach Brind’Amour to give Luostarinen regular ice time on Thursday versus just having him there as an extra?