With the addition of free agent signee Chase Priskie, the group of players who could theoretically fill out the Hurricanes third defense pairing became even bigger. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe takes a shot at handicapping the roster battle set to take place during the preseason.
First, the starting point is assuming a top 4 of Jaccob Slavin, Dougie Hamilton, Brett Pesce and Justin Faulk.
In addition, Trevor van Riemsdyk figures to be half of the third pairing when he is healthy. After shoulder surgery to repair a playoff injury, van Riemsdyk’s timeline should be in the neighborhood of being ready for opening night, but there is a chance he is not ready for opening night.
That leaves one spot in the lineup and another spot for a healthy extra defenseman at the NHL level.
The competition for those roster spots includes Haydn Fleury, Gustav Forsling, Roland McKeown, Jake Bean and now Chase Priskie. Below is an effort to handicap what it takes for each of those five players to be in the Hurricanes lineup in October.
Starting point: Based on his experience in that role with the Hurricanes, Fleury would figure to be a front-runner to be either the sixth or seventh defenseman at the NHL level.
What he brings: Fleury brings a big body who can skate well enough to play at the NHL level.
Weaknesses: Version 1.0 of Fleury’s game was incredibly buttoned-down and devoid of offense.
Waiver status: Fleury would need to clear waivers to return to the AHL, and as a still young player with high draft pedigree and decent physical tools, he would not clear.
What it takes to make the team: I think he is sort of an incumbent, and with his waivers situation, I think he is almost certain to stick at the NHL level. If he does not, I think he is more likely to be traded than sent across waivers.
Starting point: Like Fleury, Forsling has a decent amount of NHL experience and has to some degree proven he is a capable third pairing NHL defenseman.
What he brings: Forsling brings above average skating ability and NHL experience to the competition.
Weaknesses: He has yet to excel at the NHL level. As such, he fits more into the category of ‘serviceable.’
Waiver status: Forsling would need to clear waivers to head to the AHL. As a player who is still young and potentially with upside, there is a decent chance that a team in need of blue line help would claim him off waivers.
What it takes to make the team: Like Fleury, Forsling is a left shot with NHL experience. To stick in the lineup, Forsling would need to outplay Fleury likely including showing that he has more offensive upside.
Starting point: McKeown has a short history of playing well in a Canes uniform in preseason and in limited regular season NHL action. He spent the entire 2018-19 season at the AHL level, so he would need to leap frog a couple players with more experience to seize a roster spot.
What he brings: McKeown brings a steady defense-first type of style and has shown an ability to rise to the challenge when given NHL ice time.
Weaknesses: He has minimal NHL experience and seemingly a fairly low ceiling.
Waiver status: McKeown will need to clear waivers to return to Charlotte. As a player who has yet to prove he belongs at the NHL level, he could clear waivers though the risk is that a rebuilding type team claims him to give him an NHL audition.
What it takes to make the team: As a right shot, like van Riemsdyk, McKeown is in a tough spot. He would need to significantly outplay the other options to seize an NHL spot.
Starting point: Bean had a strong first professional season with the Checkers in 2018-19. That plus his high draft pedigree makes him a player that the Hurricanes will want to see at the NHL level sometime during the 2019-20 season.
What he brings: Bean offers the highest ceiling offensively. His skill set has the potential to produce offense both on the power play and at even strength.
Weaknesses: He has yet to prove he is ready for the NHL, and my assessment of him in preseason last year was that at the time he was not yet good enough defensively.
Waiver status: Bean does not have to clear waivers for the 2019-20 season though he will in 2020-21 which gives the team some urgency to audition him sometime during the 2019-20 season.
What it takes to make the team: At least until the logjam can be cleared a bit, Bean seems likely to at least start the season in the AHL. His path to sticking at the NHL level for opening night would require him to stake a claim to the roster by outplaying the other competitors by a sizable margin and ideally showing potential to be an offensive catalyst and power play boost.
Starting point: He will be new to the organization when he arrives at training camp, so he will be making a first impression but maybe not having NHL expectations just yet.
What he brings: Priskie brings good hockey IQ and the potential to score goals from the blue line with an accurate shot.
Weaknesses: This is to be determined in training camp, but of the group he has the least experience close to the NHL level.
Waiver status: Priskie will be waiver exempt, so like Bean he is an easy one to send to Charlotte initially to buy time to sort things out.
What it takes to make the team: Like Bean, I think Priskie will have to outplay the competition by a meaningful amount to win an opening day roster spot.
What say you Canes fans?
1) What are your general thoughts on the impending battle for the last two defense slots at the NHL level?
2) Do you think either Jake Bean or Chase Priskie could steal a spot because of their potential to boost scoring? Or do you think the Haydn Fleury and or Gustav Forsling win out with their NHL experience?
3) How do you think it all ends come opening night?