If you were away from Hurricanes hockey and/or the internet over the weekend, you missed Canes and Coffee being jolted into hockey season mode by the start of the Hurricanes training camp. Sunday featured a stream of 5 articles with links below:
Shortly after the completion of the Red-White scrimmage the Caniac Carnival on Sunday, the team announced that 7 players had been cut and returned to their junior clubs. The cuts included forwards Hudson Elynuik, Steven Lorentz and Spencer Smallman, defensemen Ben Gleason and Noah Carroll and goalies Callum Booth and Jeremy Helvig.
At a basic level, this is a quick move to make haste in working toward a more manageable volume of players. Even with split practices, nearly 60 players makes it hard to get things done.
Goalies – Callum Booth and Jeremy Helvig
The goalies make most sense. The ideal number is 4 which makes for 2 in each net for practices and 2 sets of 2 to rotate for preseason games. The cut gets Helvig and Booth, who I thought was the best goalie on Sunday, in the lineup in juniors and logging ice time to continue their development. In both cases, the return to juniors is not about how well they played but rather the best thing for ongoing development.
Defensemen – Noah Carroll and Ben Gleason
Ben Gleason was an invitee for all of prospect camp, Traverse City and now the start of the NHL training camp. As an unsigned free agent, I think his invite to the start of the NHL camp was a nice reward for his solid play in the other events and also a last chance for Francis and his team to scout him either to be signed to a free agent contract or possibly drafted as an overage player in the 2017 draft. I really liked Carroll’s play in the Traverse City tourney and wrote about it HERE. But even if Carroll is to beat the odds as a lower-round draft pick and make the NHL, he is a couple years away and playing game ice time in juniors is on the path to getting there.
Forwards – Hudson Elynuik, Steven Lorentz and Spencer Smallman
Arguably the harshest early cut was Steven Lorentz who leads the Hurricanes in goal scoring thus far with 3 in the Traverse City tourney to lead the team and another on a deflection in front of the net in the Red-White game. But I think Lorentz made a strong impression and did what he could to boost his stock while wearing a Hurricanes jersey this summer. Smallman and Elynuik are similarly later-round draft picks who immediately jump back into more ice time in juniors.
The early winners – Nicolas Roy and Warren Foegele
The decisions being made on day of training camp are not NHL-level decisions nor are they final ranking points for prospects who are still developing as players. Nonetheless, it is interesting to think about what the order of cuts means for grading the play of players over the summer and in general. The 2 winners who stand out for me from today’s first round of cuts are Nicolas Roy and Warren Foegele. They are the only 2 remaining junior level players who were drafted in the third round or later who are still standing.
I would not call either a surprise however. Roy had a strong 2015-16 season that boosted his stock. And as a 2014 draftee whose draft rights last longer because he was drafted when heading into the NCAA initially, Foegele is now in his third season after being drafted which pushes the Hurricanes to take a longer look to decide whether to ultimately offer him an entry-level contract.
This week features a busy slate of 4 NHL games that will present the opportunity for players currently down the depth chart to rise up and for players on the cut line to climb above it with strong play.