Today’s Daily Cup of Joe looks at a group of players whose range of possibilities are, in my opinion, wide such that whether they land on the high end or low end of those ranges could decide the fate of the Carolina Hurricanes 2019-20 season.
Nedeljkovic did all he could do at the AHL level during the 2018-19 season being arguably the Checkers’ best player in the second half of the season and netminding his way to a Calder Cup championship. No doubt, Nedeljkovic is ready for a look at the NHL level. No doubt, he has the pedigree and potential to play a role at the NHL level. But predicting NHL success based on AHL play just does not generally work. There are any number of very good career AHL goalies who just do not have NHL stuff. And there are also goalies who do not seem to project to the NHL level who receive an opportunity, seize it and excel and then never look back. With James Reimer in the picture at least as of now, predicting Nedeljkovic’s impact on the Hurricanes 2019-20 season becomes even murkier. Could Nedeljkovic be one of those rookies like Jordan Binnington who gets a chance and runs with it? Or might he struggle a bit initially and take some time to adjust to the NHL level just like he did the AHL level a couple of years ago?
His season was an odd one production-wise. Foegele looked like he was shot out of a cannon in preseason and then proceeded to start the season with a quick scoring burst playing with Jordan Staal and Justin Williams. But he went quiet after that and endured some massing scoring droughts. Foegele had 4 points in 4 games to start the season. He had 3 points (all goals) in 6 games to finish the regular season. And he was the ignition key for the first round of the playoffs and finished with 9 points in 15 games in the playoffs. But the big middle of the regular season saw him score a meager 8 points in 67 games. Did Foegele find a higher gear as a difference-making, productive power forward that will carry over to the 2019-20 season? Or were the playoffs just another short burst of scoring that was well-timed such that he will be a low-scoring depth forward whose strength is that his skill set fits Brind’Amour’s system?
As a much-heralded draft pick who was the first forward taken, Andrei Svechnikov’s 2018-19 season was underwhelming offensively with only 37 points. After entering the season as a front-runner to win the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie, he never really played his way into the running. But despite the ‘meh’ production, Svechnikov exited the 2018-19 season with his upside and future promise still intact. His 37 points did include 20 goals, and more significantly he did show flashes of the scoring ability that had many pegging him as a certain 30-goal scorer someday with upside from there. I think most would be surprised if Svechnikov does not take a step forward in 2019-20, but the burning question is how much. Does Svechnikov make modest step-wise progress offensively and otherwise in Elias Lindholm fashion? Or can Svechnikov quickly put things together and surge significantly higher in 2019-20? The difference between Svechnikov producing like a third line forward or having a breakout year as an offensive superstar would be a significant one in terms of deciding the Hurricanes’ fate.
There are a few other players who fit into this same category, but with the dog days of the NHL off-season officially here, we will save some for another day.
What say you Canes fans?
1) What do you predict for Alex Nedeljkovic at the NHL level for the 2019-20 season?
2) Was Warren Foegele’s breakout in the playoffs a sign of things to come? What do you predict for his 2019-20 season?
3) After a learning rookie season as an 18-year old, is Andrei Svechnikov ready for a breakout season in 2019-20?