Today’s Daily Cup of Joe takes a try at identifying past Hurricanes players whose game/skill set remind of me of at least part of a current player’s skill set.
He reminds me of Glen Wesley in how few big mistakes he makes. In my mind, Wesley’s greatest strength was his ability to take bad situations and always find the play that minimized the potential for a ‘big oops.’ Defending a 2-on-1 rush, Wesley was incredibly good at taking away the passing lane and at least giving the goalie a chance. When forechecked into a difficult situation, Wesley always had a knack for knowing when the best option was to play the puck to a safe place such that even if the puck was turned over it was not the catastrophic variety of turnover. Pesce has that same decision-making ability that results in incredibly few ‘big oopses’.
This one is not new, but for games when Noah Hanifin gets his skating legs going, he continues to remind me of Joni Pitkanen in his ability to carry the puck. The easy skating stride that gobbles up ice at breakneck speed is uncanny as is Hanifin’s increasing propensity to stubbornly keep the puck and buy time if needed such that he only gives it up when he has someone to pass it to. I do not think Hanifin has reached his ceiling in terms of generating offense yet, but I think he is heading in the right direction.
He reminds me of Ray Whitney in two ways. First is that Aho has high-end ability to think the game as a playmaker. Second is that Aho, like Whitney, is deceptively strong one-on-one in puck battles. Whitney always won more than his fair share of puck battles considering his size. He did use some amount of smarts and craftiness to do so, but he also was just strong on his skates with good balance that enabled him to go shoulder to shoulder with bigger players quite often with surprising results. Aho similarly has high-end smarts as part of his skill set and like Whitney is stronger than height and weight measurements would indicate.
Nordstrom does not have nearly the same level of offensive ability, but he actually reminds me of the 2005-06 version of Justin Williams. That version of Williams always played faster than his legitimate straight line speed on the forecheck. The reason is twofold. First is that Williams always seemed to have a half of a step head start on where he needed to go. Second is that he just skated harder than almost everyone else. The current iteration of Justin Williams still skates well and works hard, but he has shifted a bit in that he relies a bit more on positioning and smarts compared to 10+ years ago. But Nordstrom very much embodies that hardworking style that quickly takes away time and space when forechecking.
He reminds me a bit of Jeff O’Neill in the sense that he at times looks like an elite NHL finisher, but at other times seems to be completely invisible. O’Neill was similarly streaky, but the goals eventually came. In his best seasons, Jeff O’Neill was an elite goal scorer despite still being streaky. Here is hoping that Teuvo Teravainen can reach the same level.
Trevor van Riemsdyk
Van Riemsdyk’s skill set is quite different, but his ability to just continually click off sound minutes in the third pairing regardless of situation or defense partner reminds me a bit of Niclas Wallin. Wallin is remembered more for his playoff heroics, but the core of his game was just playing steady defense that anchored the third pairing. Van Riemsdyk is similar in 2017-18 in his ability to consistently play sound even if unspectacular hockey.
What say you Canes fans?
1) Which of my comparisons above do you most agree and also disagree with?
2) Who has more current player comparisons back to former Canes players?