To start the week, here is a collection of Hurricanes tidbits that have not made it into other posts yet:
I am on record in my post on August 5 about the World Cup, I argued that the 3 Hurricanes personnel who would be involved (Bill Peters, Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen) were possibly the last 3 I would want to miss training camp. For Sebastian Aho, I cutting training camp short by a couple of weeks for a rookie is significant. Initially, the trade off was that he would get a great dose of competitive real game action on a North American/NHL size rink. At least so far, the positive offset has not been gained, as Aho has been a healthy scratch for Team Finland.
He was a ho-hum kind of signing this summer as a player projected to play on the fourth line, but I actually think his signing is a significant one. The Hurricanes fourth line centered by Jay McClement struggled in the 2015-16 season. Theoretically, Stalberg brings speed to help offset McClement’s below average speed and equally importantly awareness and sound defensive play. The fourth line will not be expected to score a ton, but it must be better than last season in terms of holding its own. Stalberg is likely to be a key part of that.
Is it his time? The number of things that Justin Faulk has already accomplished as a 24-year old is impressive. He has been a pretty solid top pairing defensive defenseman when playing alongside Andrej Sekera a couple seasons back. He then proceeded to put up big offensive numbers first in terms of overall scoring in 2014-15 and then power play goal scoring in 2015-16. But he has yet to put it all together in such a way that he is a shut down defenseman but also kicking in offense. With so many young players on the blue line, I think Justin Faulk is going to need to be a rock defensively for the team to take the next step upward.
Ditto for Jeff Skinner. He made big strides defensively in 2015-16 and also put up decent scoring totals, but he did it more in a third line role. This season, he and Victor Rask will step into the slot of Kris Versteeg and Eric Staal as the Hurricanes top scoring line. With that comes a regular helping of tough match ups against either elite checking lines or great 2-way lines that can beat you by shutting you down or by scoring themself. Can Jeff Skinner do what he did in 2015-16 and maybe even add a bit more scoring while playing against tougher competition. That is the challenge in front of him.