Nearing the midway point of hockey nothingness known as August, Hurricanes fans actually have something to track in the ongoing process to sell the team. If you were away for the weekend, I offered my thoughts on recent events in this article on Friday. You can also find links to other recent local coverage in the Sunday Canes Chronicle.
The ownership situation receives top billing on any day that there is even a small blip of news. Past that there is not much, but with the aim of helping the Hurricanes faithful trudge through another hockey-less day in August, I managed to accumulate a list of what I am calling “I think…” type of thoughts similar to the more regular “random notes” that I occasionally post.
The Monday Coffee Shop opens the floor for everyone else to offer their own “I think…” comments on anything Canes hockey.
I think that it will be interesting to see where Coach Bill Peters slots Sebastian Aho position-wise in training camp and if Aho sees at least a short trial run at center. Peters was pretty firmly on record as seeing Aho staying at wing for the 2017-18 season when he spoke to the media in April shortly after the season ended. But at that point in time, there was at least some possibility and maybe even a likelihood that Francis would add a top 9, scoring-capable forward over the course of the summer. That did not happen. So if there is still potentially a need there and since Peters does still see Aho moving to center at some point, might Peters reconsider the timeline?
I think that pending a thumbs up from the scouting staff that Jason Garrison could be a worthwhile late addition. The burning question and prerequisite for any deal is an assessment from the Hurricanes scouting team on what level he could be expected to play at in 2017-18. Only a few years back, he was a mobile, serviceable top 4 defenseman, but my two checks with people who cover the Lightning suggest that he likely has hit the wall age-wise and is much less now. My cut line for at least being curious is whether or not the scouting staff thinks he is an upgrade to Klas Dahlbeck. If the answer is that he is not, then I am ready to move on. But if the scouts think that he could have a Dennis Seidenberg-like bounce back for one year, he could be good depth. We all like the future of the Hurricanes blue line and the core part of it for 2017-18, but it is very light on NHL experience in depth slots with only six players having more than a handful of games at the NHL level. Las Vegas still has too many defensemen such that I figure the required trade return for Garrison is very close to nothing. For relieving the logjam, could Francis give up a fifth-round pick and receive a seventh-round pick back and maybe even include a depth AHLer like Keegan Kanzig in the detail by choice to free up another contract slot in case he needs it later?
I think that the timing might be right to do assessments and make decisions on Brock McGinn and Phil Di Giuseppe. Entering training camp, I think Phil Di Giuseppe enters training camp as the #14 forward by virtue of being pushed into a two-way contract. McGinn’s exact rating is a bit more debatable, but I think it is fair to say that he currently slots somewhere between #10 and #13 and not certain to have a place in the opening day lineup. Both are young at 23 years old but graduated from the prospect category and with a decent run of showing what they could do at the NHL level. Relevant to their futures is the burgeoning group of high-potential forwards who are making their way to Charlotte and now within striking distance of NHL roster slots. Also relevant is the fact that Ron Francis made the decision to add depth forward Josh Jooris to the roster with at least the potential effect of bumping McGinn and/or Di Giuseppe out of the lineup. There is always risk in trading young players who could be late bloomers and go on to excel elsewhere, but there is also something to be said for collecting even modest value while it might still be possible. If Francis’ and his team’s assessment of McGinn and/or Di Giuseppe is that their ceiling is that of depth forwards without regular top 9 potential at the NHL level, might it make sense to part ways with one of the two now if he could yield even a modest return in the form of a late-round draft pick? Or if the value is that low, is it better to just keep them for depth even though there is risk of losing them to waivers?
I think that an ECHL team closer to Raleigh would be cool. One smaller detail in the batch of recent articles was the statement by Don Waddell that the sale of the Hurricanes would not include the Florida Everblades. While it is possible that the deal would require that the Hurricanes still use Florida as an ECHL affiliate (and that would be reasonable), I really like the long-term potential to add an ECHL team that grows the Hurricanes footprint. The three existing teams make geographical sense — the Greenville Swamp Rabbits in Greenville, SC, the South Carolina Stingrays in Charleston, SC and the Norfolk Admirals in Norfolk, VA. All of those teams currently have NHL affiliates, so there would be a process and time frame to transitioning from the Florida Everblades to one of these teams. Another interesting possibility would be returning hockey to Greensboro. Wilmington or Myrtle Beach would also offer possible new destinations within a reasonable drive.
For Monday fun, feel free to comment on my “I thinks…” here, but please also stop by the Monday Coffee Shop where there should be even more action with readers adding their own “I thinks…” and (respectfully) commenting on those from other readers.