Upon returning to Raleigh today after a circuitous three-game road trip, the Hurricanes announced a series of moves.
Phil Di Giuseppe was placed on waivers (which could clear him to go to the AHL).
Martin Necas was sent to the Charlotte Checkers.
Haydn Fleury was sent to the Charlotte Checkers.
Clark Bishop was recalled from the Charlotte Checkers.
Today’s Daily Cup of Joe breaks down the series of moves
Martin Necas sent to Charlotte
In my game recap yesterday, I suggested that Necas could be headed for the AHL after the team’s return when I said:
Lost in the fact that he scored was that Brind’Amour again went away from him pulling him off the power play and sitting him when he shuffled a bit. The result was a meager 6:43 of ice time. The goal makes things interesting, but part of me thinks the return home could see Necas head to Charlotte for at least a short stint of heavy minutes.
Because Rod Brind’Amour consistently says that Necas is making progress whenever pressed on the subject and that is what the local media reports, Necas’ demotion seems to be a surprise for many in the local hockey community. But Brind’Amour’s comments on Necas just mean first of all is that he will not to take to the air waves to overly criticize a 19-year old still very much in the learning phase. Second, I think Brind’Amour’s comments are a sign of patience in the process just meaning that Necas is making progress in his own way.
But awhile back now, I think it became incredibly clear that Necas just is not quite ready to learn and play at the NHL level yet. He is 19. That is not a catastrophe. But it is something that needs to be addressed. The Hurricanes have already traveled this road once committing to the NHL for Elias Lindholm and then just completely ignoring reality in training camp and early in the season that clearly indicated that he just was not ready. Lindholm’s development was set back a year or two as he had to scratch and claw just to play his way up to ‘serviceable’. So Necas situation represented another case of choosing to act based on what the team hoped would transpire with a young player and what actually did happen.
In short, the 2018-19 version of Necas’ game just has not translated to the NHL level yet. Of no surprise is the fact that Necas has work to do in terms of his play without the puck. But what is more concerning and I think the reason this demotion was inevitable is the fact that his offensive game which is his strength also has not readily transitioned to the NHL level. Necas’ goal in Sunday’s game was the first in a combined 21 games of hockey for Necas and his line mates. Putting it bluntly, he has work to do on the offensive part of his game too.
Just before the road trip in assessing Necas’ start, I wrote:
Offensively, he is still learning how to provide a safe passing outlet for defensemen. And defensively, he still has a propensity to get focused on the puck or just let up a little and then lose track of his defensive assignment. More significant than those struggles which could have been anticipated is the fact that he is not yet producing offensively. Right now, the game just looks too fast for him. Necas too regularly skates himself into dead ends in the neutral zone and has to just push the puck to no one specifically.
The burning questions right now are whether Necas’ long-term development will be better served by NHL or AHL ice time.
Watch point: How the organization handles Necas. I am on record as preferring not to put high-end prospects. Especially after watching a similar situation play out with Elias Lindholm, I would be very careful pushing Necas too much.
That did not change on the road trip. As such, Necas near-term development is much better served playing 18 or more minutes per night in all situations and mastering a level that is higher than any he has played at thus far in his young career.
The Wednesday timing seemed inevitable given the path traveled the past few days. As I noted in my game recap based on the excitement of his first NHL goal was the fact that Brind’Amour played Necas only a meager 6:43 in Tuesday’s game.
No way was the team going to send the 19-year old off on a plane by himself in the middle of the road trip. But Tuesday’s game was a reasonably clear indication of what was bound to happen once the team returned.
Next up for Necas, is trying to establish his game at the AHL level and begin working on the vast assortment of details for the center position. Sometimes lost on people is the fact that the AHL is an incredibly good hockey league. Even good young players sometimes take time to adjust. Janne Kuokkanen really did not emerge until the second half of his first AHL season, and Julien Gauthier did not find his game until even later after early struggles. So it is not as simple as Necas stepping in against lower competition and immediately dominating. He has work to do in that regard.
Haydn Fleury sent to Charlotte
Fleury had a strong preseason and is off to a decent start during the regular season. But with Justin Faulk still in tow, the Hurricanes are seven deep on the blue line and Fleury has been the odd man out playing in only one game. As a young player who can still benefit development-wise with AHL ice time, Fleury’s demotion is very simply about getting him more game action. Yes, he is the #7 defenseman right now, but in no way is that a negative reflection on Fleury. It is simply the current numbers game. So since Fleury can go to Charlotte without needing to clear waivers, it makes perfect sense to get him a chunk of game action. Fleury will certainly play in Friday and Saturday’s Checkers games and could possibly be back with the Hurricanes as early as next Tuesday when the team travels to Detroit.
Phil Di Giuseppe placed on waivers
Di Giuseppe has had a disappointing start to the 2018-19 season. Di Giuseppe was ‘meh’ and minus 2 in 8:28 of game action against the Rangers on October 7. Then two days later, he took too bad penalties, and Brind’Amour pulled the plug on him after only 6:04 of ice time. Interesting is that even if Di Giuseppe has played his way out of the lineup, he still makes sense as a #13 as a veteran as compared to having a young player sit in the press box. As such, if he clears waivers, it will be interesting to see if the Hurricanes send him to Charlotte or if instead he just remains at the NHL level.
Clark Bishop called up to the Hurricanes
Replacing Martin Necas is Clark Bishop. Bishop will make his NHL if he plays as I would expect on Saturday. Bishop is a great story. As a fifth-rounder, he beat the odds making it to the NHL. Further, as a player who split time between the ECHL and AHL in 2016-17, I think it was fair to say that Bishop started the 2017-18 season having work to do to earn his next contract. And work he did in 2017-18. He was one of a good number of players who took a step up in 2017-18 under new Head Coach Mike Vellucci. He excelled playing on a checking line and the penalty kill alongside Warren Foegele. His game is not that of a high end scorer. Even in a great season, he had only 28 points in 68 games during the 2017-18 season. But the hope is that he can be a steady and sound defensively oriented center and fill the hole left by Necas being sent to Charlotte. It will also be interesting to see if Brind’Amour instantly gives Bishop a chance on the penalty kill that has struggled thus far. The one downside I see with Bishop is that he clearly aims for sound and solid and at least on paper gives up significant offensive upside.
Bishop will be the sixth rookie forward to play at the NHL level this season.
What say you Canes fans?
1) What are your thoughts on Martin Necas continuing his development at the AHL level?
2) Who has seen enough of Clark Bishop to have formed an opinion on him?
3) What do you think of Brind’Amour’s seeming approach to plug in a checking line center into the lineup?