My hope is to get back to Micheal Ferland, Teuvo Teravainen and the interplay between them, but with a busy day and no time to write and the late Canes game that will have to wait. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe offers a short series of quick hitters.
On trading a defenseman
For me it is like this…Jaccob Slavin is part of the core and not going anywhere. Calvin de Haan is unlikely to go because he is the only other proven left shot. The options would be one of the three top 4 type right shot defensemen — Justin Faulk, Brett Pesce or Dougie Hamilton. Though I could see the team partly seeing which yields the greatest return, I put Pesce in a different category. His $4 million annual salary for five more years is a huge plus and not something I would easily part with. And I also think he is the steadiest even if also most unspectacular of the bunch. Low salary and low downside in a proven 24-year old top 4 is not something that should be taken lightly.
On Dougie Hamilton
Also on the topic of the blue line, I think it would be fair to say that Dougie Hamilton has been a disappointment thus far. In total through 49 games, he has not been a regular difference-maker offensively, has had intermittent issues defensively and rightfully fell to the third pairing. And based on the team’s logjam on the right side, I would not be against trading him for the right return. All that said, my preference would be to have a bit more patience with him. (Though Faulk has rebounded nicely in 2018-19, he is still my choice to be traded.) That is because I think the good version of Hamilton if the Canes can conjure it up can be the type of player who is a difference-maker, drives wins and is that rare top echelon of 2020 defenseman who help drive offense. Though there are no guarantees and early returns are not great, I would prefer not to punt too early.
Looking forward at the goalie position and considering Petr Mrazek
Though there is always risk in the fickle goalie position, I think I have seen enough to re-sign Mrazek. Scott Darling will be bought out this summer, and though Curtis McElhinney has played well and could return, he is 35 years old and not really a long-term solution as a starter. While Mrazek has not been perfect, I think he has been good enough that I would commit a slot to him for 2019-20 and beyond partly just to reduce the pressure trying to land a #1 next summer. He is only 26 years old which is young by goalie standards, and probably right now could be re-signed for a reasonable 1A/1B type price. Something like 2-3 years at $2.5 million would be a bargain, but I would expect he costs a bit more $3 million-ish. I would do that for two years possibly stretching to three.
Room for improvement for Sebastian Aho
All in all, Sebastian Aho’s transition to the center position has gone well, probably better than expected even. He is on pace for an impressive 90-ish points does not look to be in over his head in any way at the center position. That said, the one sometimes glaring Achilles’ heel is his coverage away from the puck when his assignment does not appear to be a threat. Aho does fine defending when the threat is there, but he has a tendency to focus too much on the puck, loosely defend areas instead of specific players and as a result have brief lapses that are just enough to offer a 1-2 second opening for a quick pass and grade A scoring chance against. He has been beaten to the front of the net off of face-off losses while he paused before engaging. And he too regularly creeps down to help when ot needed leaving a path and passing lane to between the face-off circles for opposing defenseman. I think the key for him is playing with more a ‘my assignment is’ mentality. He has the hockey sense to be a great two-way center, and as I said above, he generally does well when he needs to take away a scoring threat. As noted at the outset, in total Aho’s acclimation to the center position has been overwhelmingly positive, so I call this out as an area for improvement not some catastrophic fatal flaw.
What say you Canes fans?
1) Which of my quick hitters do you agree with and which do you disagree with?
2) Who else has a quick hitter or two to bandy around today?