Seven games is obviously not enough to make any final judgments, but with those games and also preseason, it is enough for first impressions on the new players. That is the subject of today’s Daily Cup of Joe.
The crux of the trade for James Reimer is that the Hurricanes could unload Scott Darling’s contract and get a player who at least theoretically could contribute and/or possibly be traded later. The move made sense on a financial level even if Reimer did not work out. But the deal did also have upside if Reimer rebounded. Though his 2018-19 campaign was not great, he was only a couple years removed from being a capable 1A/1B type goalie.
First impressions on Reimer are definitely positive. The team is 2-1 in Reimer starts, and more significantly he played a sizable role in both of the wins. Mrazek may have evened things up a bit with his shutout on Tuesday, but prior to that I think it was fair to say that Reimer was the better of the two goalies. He held the fort in the second half of the game against the Capitals while the team rebounded. And he was stellar in the win over Florida that saw the team in front of him play one good period and then take the rest of the night off to the tune of a shooting gallery that Reimer survived.
At a minimum, he seems to be settling in as a competent backup which in itself is a win.
My assessment after seven games is that I underappreciated what he brought to the Hurricanes. He seemed to be billed as a capable depth defenseman who could handle the rough stuff if necessary. From watching him, he seems capable of being a regular top 4 if necessary. The result is that Edmundson, along with Gardiner, again make the team five deep in terms of top 4 defensemen. That recipe worked well for the Hurricanes in 2018-19.
Of the group, I feel like Gardiner is the player still most in an adjustment phase. Gardiner has not been bad. In fact, for a player whose downside was alleged to be his deficiencies in terms of defenses lapses and occasional bad turnovers, I think Gardiner’s play has been quiet in a good way. But at the same time, he has not been a regular difference-maker offensively. No doubt his overtime game-winner was a huge contribution, but otherwise he has not really emerged as an offensive catalyst yet. The power play unit that he is on has not produced much, and past the overtime game-winner, he has produced only a single assist on the score sheet. My feeling is that Gardiner is going through more of a normal adjustment phase with a new team and system.
Dzingel seemed to arrive billed as a capable goal scorer with speed who was maybe deficient defensively. Thus far, he has lived up to his billing offensively with two goals and four assists in six games. His pass to Martin Necas for the Hurricanes lone non-empty-net tally was a pretty, heady playmaking type of assist. And in general, he has been a positive both at even strength and on the power play. I have noticed that Dzingel does go for the Skinner-like swipe and fly by instead of playing through the body. But on a positive note, I would not say that Dzingel has stood out negatively on the defensive side of the puck which in itself is a positive. Further, he seems to be meshing well with line mates Martin Necas and Erik Haula and boosting the team’s depth scoring in the process.
The most productive of the newcomers in the early going is Erik Haula. He already has five goals and added his first assist in Tuesday’s win. But maybe more significant than his scoring is his all-around play. Haula is emerging as a player that Brind’Amour can trust at the same level as Jordan Staal. He wins face-offs and is a good read/react center defensively. His role has quickly become much more than just ‘depth scoring’ which is significant.
What say you Canes fans?
1) What are your thoughts on the newcomers?
2) Over the longer haul, which of these players do think will make the largest contribution?