Today’s Daily Cup of Joe offers a set of random Canes tidbits.
Brian Gibbons/future AHL help
With Martinook out first and then Haula for a few games, Brian Gibbons logged 11 games at the NHL level before being returned to the AHL late last week. Interestingly, the Hurricanes recalled Eetu Luostarinen from the AHL after Saturday’s game. That could mean that Erik Haula is again a question mark. More significant would be if Luostarinen slotted in as a wing which would suggest that his short audition bumped him above Gibbons. I would rate Gibbons as adequate but not better in any way. He gets what he needs to do on the forecheck for his role, but he did not register a single point in 11 games and does not have the size to be a physical disruptor. Another interesting thing is that the math on Gibbons’ $200,000 salary guarantee has built in payment for about 13 games at the NHL level. So up to 13 games, the Hurricanes were going to have to pay that much more salary regardless. But once he surpasses 13 games, his increase to play at the NHL level is no longer free/built in which makes the finances pretty similar for recalling someone else. Some are suggesting that the Hurricanes odd 11 forward / 8 defenseman lineup and not usually carrying extras is to try to preserve salary cap for later. But from watching the team do similar in 2018-19 when salary cap was a non-issue, there is also an element of expense management.
I touched on this in my game recap for Saturday. Ryan Dzingel continues to surprise me with different elements of his game. He arrived labeled a bit as instant offense primarily in the form of finishing. While his goal total is currently at a modest 16-goal pace over 82 games, he has impressed with other facets of his game. His pretty pass to feed Foegele at the top of the crease on Saturday was yet another heady passing play. In addition, what has me most intrigued right now is how well he seems to be meshing with Jordan Staal’s ability to transport the puck from end to end. The end result of many of these rushes is that Staal attracts a bunch of attention and needs an outlet to keep possession of the puck. Sometimes that is multiple players converging on him at the offensive blue line. Other times he carries wide and needs somewhere to play the puck from deep in the offensive zone. And last is sometimes he needs a cycling partner on the boards. Joakim Nordstrom more than any other player during Staal’s tenure was on the same page with Staal and knew where he needed to be/what he needed to do to support the puck. Dzingel’s play reminds me a bit of Nordstrom in that regard. Especially when one considers that he is only a few games deep playing with Staal, the duo is near the top of my watch list right now to see if there is something to this or if I am just over-optimistically misreading a few plays.
One thing that stands out to me about Brett Pesce is how much he has developed in terms of puck skills. The rookie version of Brett Pesce was mature well beyond his years and experience level in terms of defending, but in terms of receiving, handling and distributing the puck, his game was simple. It made sense for a young player adjusting the NHL level. Fast forward to today, and Pesce’s game in terms of puck skills is leaps and bounds better. He has a growing knack for figuring when he has room to carry the puck a bit and is also just more precise with his passes. Worth watching is if his continued growth in this area manifests itself in collecting more assists.
What say you Canes fans?
1) With Brian Gibbons mostly using up the NHL games built into his contract and with no points in 11 games, do you think the team will go a different direction for the next wing call up? Julien Gauthier? Eetu Luostarinen at wing? Someone else?
2) Does anyone else feel like the scouting report on Ryan Dzingel short-changed his offensive abilities?
3) Do you see Brett Pesce as making significant strides in terms of puck skills from his rookie year until now? If yes, what are the chances it results in scoring upside?