Today’s Daily Cup of Joe offers what will ultimately be an interesting take on identifying and prioritizing needs for the upcoming offseason.
Identifying and prioritizing needs
Entering the summer of 2018, here is a targeted and prioritized list of needs:
1) An upgrade at the goalie position
The Hurricanes were significantly below the league average by just about any metric imaginable (again) for the 2017-18 season. Adding a goalie capable of being at least league average and ideally even better represented the biggest upgrade possible through a single roster position.
2) Adding a top 6 scoring forward capable of (IMPORTANT) driving offense not just being a complementary player
My math says that the Hurricanes are 7 deep for sure in terms of top 9 forwards (Aho, Tervainen, Staal, Lindholm, Skinner, Rask, Williams) with a few higher-end forward prospects capable of rising up early and a few other depth forwards who have the potential to be serviceable in a top 9 slot.
There is a case to be made for incrementally boosting the team’s scoring by improving the last 3-4 forwards. But as I have written before, there is a limit to boosting depth scoring. The last three forwards are always going to get less ice time than the top 3-6 forwards, and more significantly, there really are only 6 forward power play slots. (And putting forwards on the points can boost forward scoring, but it is largely at the expense of decreasing defensemen scoring at that point.) Put more simply, there is a fairly low ceiling for how much one can expect even from a good player playing in a #10-12 slot because of ice time issues.
With a limited number of roster spots and bullets to be fired adding players this summer, the second biggest bang the team can get for his buck is adding a top 6 forward who is capable of 55+ points and equally importantly capable of helping boost his two line mates to higher totals too.
3) Adding one more defenseman
With a second pairing that was ‘meh’ at best in 2017-18, the team will be rolling the dice on improvement from within again if it does not add one more proven defenseman.
What he is able to do given market circumstances for #2 is at the top of my summer watch list, but more so what Francis decides to do with #3 is also pretty high on my list.
The optimistic view has Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce anchored into the top 4 somewhere doing exactly what they did in 2017-18 maybe with just a bit more offense. The second half of the top 4 requires cherry picking only the best chunk of 20-30 games from Justin Faulk and Noah Hanifin’s 2017-18 seasons and then counting on both to reproduce that for much closer to 82 games. If that does not happen, right now there is no one with NHL experience who would qualify as a reasonably probable plan B to fill out the top 4.
While it is definitely possible that Hanifin and Faulk take a step up, betting the 2017-18 season on going two for two on those bets with no other option is much more risky than most think.
4) Picking up a depth player or two
Depending on what is left for budget, the team could choose to selectively and inexpensively add another depth player or two.
So here is where it gets interesting. This is not an article written for 2017-18. It is actually my leading article for last season’s offseason series which you can find HERE. I pulled only the main section with the priority list and had to change years, take out names like Ron Francis, Ron Hainsey, etc. and had to eliminate a couple paragraphs that went into player details which have changed. But the 4 bullets are verbatim from last summer, and the vast majority of the text also carried forward pretty well from last year.
I would say that #4 has changed a bit, as this summer the team looks to be more capable of upgrading with youth. I would also add that a change in mentality, moxy or whatever has also risen up as a significant need. But #1 to #3 are still pretty much dead on in this deja vu/plagiarism version of charting the course for the summer ahead.
What say you Canes fans?
1) Did anyone get an inkling that something was wrong with this article before I said so?
2) Do you agree that the situation this summer is eerily similar to last summer?
3) Free for all discussion on the summer ahead…