This weekend mostly had me tied up with the one thing that pulls me away from Hurricanes hockey in the fall. I did manage to watch the game on Friday and a portion of the game on Saturday, both with ‘iffy’ video feeds and of course no access to the rewind button to rewatch plays. But after another long offseason, I was incredibly appreciate for the opportunity to watch some form of Canes hockey and am equally excited to be able to write a bit about it.
Just win baby: The Traverse City tournament is more or less a competitive exhibition tournament, but as I said in my Traverse City preview posts Part 1 and Part 2, winning does matter in terms of building expectations and attitude within the organization. So obviously 2-0 is a great start. Monday’s game really is the swing game. With a win, the Hurricanes will win their division and play for the tourney championship on Tuesday. With a loss, the Canes could fall as low as third (out of 4 teams) and be forced to play in the fifth/sixth place game on Tuesday.
A repeat of 2015 draft? – Janne Kuokkanen: After finding a steal in in the second round of the 2015 draft in Sebastian Aho who played his way out of this tourney and onto Finland’s World Cup of Hockey team instead, the Canes went back to the Finnish well in the second round of the 2016 draft. So far the results again look promising. Janne Kuokkanen has looked comfortable on the smaller North American ice surface, has been great with the puck on his stick and has a goal to his credit.
Opportunity will come – Warren Foegele: He has a nice goal from the crease area and has played well. His uncommon situation as a US/NCAA draftee who moved to Canadian juniors and the overage spot for him in Kingston might delay when he gets a professional contract, but I will be surprised if it does not happen at some point.
Get well soon – Haydn Fleury: Fleury left Friday’s game early after first scoring an important answer goal in the second period and then getting tangled up with a net that was actually off its moorings. In trying to catch up today, I have not seen any kind of definitive report on the injury (someone holler if I missed it in my quick search), but he was held out of Saturday’s game.
More of the same – Sergey Tolchinsky: In overtime on Friday, Tolchinsky undressed a Rangers’ defender on what looked like a fairly harmless rush. The play resulted in another Tolchinsky game-winner of the highlight reel variety. Tolchinsky is tied for the team lead with 2 points in 2 games and has been strong offensively.
Rising up – Noah Carroll: This steals from a longer post that I hope to write in the next week or so, but out of all of the Canes lower-round (5th-7th) picks in the last 2 drafts, I think he is the one who is most intriguing from my ‘back to school’ interviews and the email and Twitter direct message exchanges that go with them. The short version is that he is a skilled, skating defenseman who was once projected to be as high as a third round pick in the 2016 NHL draft. He had a tough 2015-16 season when pressed into a top pairing defense role on a team that struggled. So getting back to Traverse City, he has played well through 2 games in Traverse City and also shown the mobility that at least gives him the physical tools to be an NHLer one day.
In the crowd – Valentin Zykov: He reminds me a bit of Mark Recchi. He is not big by today’s NHL standards in terms of height at 6 feet 0 inches tall, but he he has a low center of gravity and great lower-body strength that makes him hard to move and capable of playing a much more rugged game than his basic measurements would suggest. Also like Recchi, he looks very comfortable playing where it is crowded in between the circles which is great for finding high danger scoring chances on a regular basis.
More than 1 – Callum Booth: Alex Nedeljkovic, who picked up a 4-3 overtime win on Friday, is widely considered to be the Hurricanes top goaltending prospect (for good reason), but Callum Booth is also making progress in his development. He was solid in the 4-2 Hurricanes win on Saturday giving up only 2 goals on 29 shots.
Once I dig out from being away for the weekend, my hope is to post individual game recaps for the Hurricanes prospects 2 remaining games in Traverse City and also a full tourney summary.