With the Traverse City prospects tournament officially in the rear view mirror, Canes fans turn their attention to training camp which officially kicks off on Friday with open practices in the morning and the Caniac Carnival and Red-White scrimmage which is Sunday.
Today the team announced the roster for training camp.
The training camp roster includes 57 players. The 57 players are comprised of basically every player in the Hurricanes system except for the prospects who are already at school playing NCAA hockey this season. It also includes controversial PTO invitee Raffi Torres, and unsigned free agent Ben Gleason who will be taking his third turn with the Hurricanes (summer prospect camp followed by Traverse City tourney). In addition to being minus the NCAA players, the roster right now is minus Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen who are still playing for Team Finland in the World Cup of Hockey. Finally, the roster does not include Aleksi Saarela who must be some combination of still injured and possibly staying in Finland this season.
Reading the tea leaves for the 2 groups
Almost exactly like Harry Potter, there is a sorting process that happens to split the large group of players at the start of training camp in 2 groups which make for manageable practices. Line combinations, defense pairings and who might/might not make the opening day roster are all subject to change multiple times before preseason is all said and done, but mostly for the sake of fun, let me take a shot at reading what the current split into 2 squads could mean.
Growing more leaders
Group A features Jordan Staal and Justin Faulk who could be thought of as captains 1A and 1B. Group B being minus those 2 could be an opportunity for other players to asset themselves as a leader and possibly position themselves to get a A on their jersey. NHL regulars in group B include Jeff Skinner, Victor Rask, Noah Hanifin, Brett Pesce, newcomers Lee Stempniak and Bryan Bickell and goalie Cam Ward. Jeff Skinner, who arguably rose up the most after Eric Staal’s departure at the trade deadline last season, could be considered a leader of this group.
Group A has only Justin Faulk, Jaccob Slavin and Ron Hainsey as likely bets to make the NHL opening night roster. That in itself is interesting because if Coach Peters is expecting to start with Slavin/Faulk, I would expect Ron Hainsey to be grouped with likely options to be his defense partner. The group does have Haydn Fleury who I would say is in the mix for the #8 slot on the blue line. Expect Slavin and Faulk to see time together.
Group B has Brett Pesce, Noah Hanifin, Ryan Murphy and Matt Tennyson. Hanifin/Murphy spent a good chunk of time together as the third pairing last season, and early indications are that Hanifin/Pesce might get a look as a second defense pairing after spending a small amount of time together late in the 2015-16 season. Expect Hanifin/Pesce to see time together possibly with Murphy swapping in on the right side.
The forward split for the 2 groups makes a bit more sense to me. Group A offers the chance to reunite the team’s best line of Nordstrom/JStaal/Nestrasil and also start McClement/Stalberg together as a foundation for the fourth line. From the young and exciting category, there is a good mix of some of the better forwards in Traverse City in Sergey Tolchinsky, Julien Gauthier, Janne Kuokkanen and Valentin Zykov. Look for Nordstrom/JStaal/Nestrasil to be reunited and ____/McClement/Stalberg.
Group B includes Jeff Skinner, Victor Rask and Lee Stempniak who are expected to be the first try to form a top scoring line. Elias Lindholm who will start with Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen who are still at the World Cup of Hockey could play with Phil Di Giuseppe and maybe someone like Bryan Bickell to start. Expect Skinner/Rask/Stempniak to get a long look.
Who else is trying to hold time on their schedule for Friday morning to hop into practice at PNC Arena?