First, in the name of full disclosure of my laziness, many of these are reused from some random mention in a past post or conversation on Twitter but I thought it would be interesting to collect them in 1 place.
The idea is to take current Canes players and point out some aspect that harkens back to another past Hurricanes player.
Elias Lindholm reminds me of Jeff O’Neill in the sense that O’Neill’s game was always at its best across the board when he forechecked hard and banged bodies. Moving his feet and the physical play was like an ‘on’ switch for Jeff O’Neill’s entire game. I think the same is true for Lindholm. When he gets physically engaged in a game, I think it elevates his play in all areas. When he does not, he has a tendency to fade into the backrground.
Eddie Lack reminds me of the good version of Justin Peters. In his first couple tries, Justin Peters just did not appear to be an NHL-capable goalie. After a few adjustments and maybe just finding a hot streak he suddenly was. Peters’ achilles heel was that even in his good version, he had very little rebound control, but he was a very good ‘first shot’ goalie. He was big, fairly athletic and with pretty good reflex save ability. The run of hockey where Peters won consistently (and earned his 2-year deal in Washington) featured him getting beat by incredibly few first shots and the Canes defense being incredibly good at coming back to the crease to clean up rebounds. That was exactly the formula for Eddie Lack’s first win against the Islanders.
Kris Versteeg reminds me of Ray Whitney in 2 respects. On the ice, Versteeg’s game as a somewhat undersized heady playmaker is a match for Whitney. Both had an ability to score goals, but their greatest strength was their ability to think the game and make their line mates better primarily through creating scoring chances for them. Whitney was a catalyst for a couple of Eric Staal’s best years just as Versteeg may prove to be this season. The other uncanny similarity between the 2 is their unique combination of lighthearted when appropriate but at the same time intense. Ray Whitney was as big of a jokester as their was on the Canes when he was there, but at the same time he was 1 of the fiercest competitors and players who expected the most out of himself and his team mates on the ice. The more As I see more of Kris Versteeg, I see him as being cut out of that same mold.
Nathan Gerbe reminds me of Chad LaRose and more recently Patrick Dwyer. He is a heart and soul player. He brings energy every single night. He is very much a good hockey player and one that you want on your team. As a third-liner Gerbe’s scoring is maybe adequate. As a fourth-liner on a deep team, he is a fan favorite who does more than anyone could ever ask. But on a Hurricanes team that lacks scorers and forward depth, I think he is overslotted on the second line just like Chad LaRose was awhile back and more recently Patrick Dwyer. Here is hoping that he does not become a scapegoat for the team’s broader depth issues like the other 2 because he does not deserve that.
Victor Rask reminds me of Josef Vasicek. Both leveraged a strong Traverse City tourney to climb from way down the depth chart to into the starting lineup before anyone expected. Both also did on the foundation of being sound defensively such that even if they did not score much, they at least were not going to hurt you defensively. Vasicek seemed to hit a fairly low offensive ceiling fairly early and therefore really peaked as a decent defensively sound third-line center. The optimistic hope is that the common entry point is just a starting point for Victor Rask on the way to next adding more offense to his game. His 4 goals and 4 assists through 12 games this season supports that hope.
Victor Rask reminds me of Justin Faulk. In a very similar vein, Justin Faulk burst onto the NHL roster early. He built his game from a solid defensive foundation and offered limited offense early. Only after establishing his defensive game did his offense emerge. When it did, it was in a big way with a 49-point outburst last season. Similarly, Victor Rask put down a solid defensive foundation in his rookie season but put up modest offensive totals especially when you consider that he had a decent helping of power play time and ice time with scoring-capable line mates. Here is hoping that Rask charts the same development course as Justin Faulk.
Ron Hainsey reminds of Bret Hedican in that when playing well both logged a bunch of minutes and mostly did very little highlight-worthy but were a quiet but important part of playing solid defense. Ron Hainsey has of course broken than formula recently with game-winning goals in back to back games, but in the 2 previous full seasons, he averaged 12 scoring points per season. I get that neither are big point producers and neither garnered much, if any, power play time, but for me it always seemed like both would produce a bit more offensively than they ever did.
Eric Staal and his contract situation remind me of Rod Brind’Amour and his right before the Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup. The slightly longer version of this story is HERE. A key difference is that Rod Brind’Amour was under contract for multiple years, whereas Eric Staal is scheduled to become a free agent this summer. But both were captains of underperforming teams near the bottom of the NHL. In both cases their teams were set for rebuilding, and it theoretically made sense for them to go play for a contender at that stage of their careers. Brind’Amour stayed instead of pushing to be traded to a contender, and the rest is history. Is it crazy to think that the Canes could rebuild quickly and put Eric Staal on a similar course?
Specifically in July’s rookie camp, Noah Hanifin reminded me of Joni Pitkanen. That was my first impression of Noah Hanifin on PNC Arena ice. He was big and an effortless and smooth skater, and he had a propensity to keep the puck on his stick until he had a good place to send it even if that took awhile or if he needed to skate himself into more time to figure it out. The ‘adjusting to the NHL’ version of Noah Hanifin from October has been much less free-wheeling, so it is hard to say if/how much of this first impression returns after he settles in at the NHL level and grows his comfort level.
Which of these do you agree with? Disagree with?
Who has more?