Today’s Daily Cup of Joe offers a collection of short discussions with a ‘one or the other’ theme.
1) Justin Faulk or Noah Hanifin
One of Faulk or Hanifin needs to find a higher gear defensively such that he can anchor a second defense pairing that improves from the past two years. Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce tend to be better together, but probably rightfully, Peters had to split them on the road to balance the defense pairings. Faulk was a sound top four defenseman defensively awhile back when playing with Ondrej Sekera, but that has not been the case the past couple years. Noah Hanifin is suddenly entering his fourth season in the NHL. If he is going to put it all together and become a legitimate top 4 defenseman, the time is now. If one of Hanifin or Faulk does not take a step up the Hurricanes will have a hard time icing a solid second pairing.
2) Cam Ward or Scott Darling
Indications from 1400 Edwards Mill Road are that the team could go with three goalies in 2018-19. That could enable the Hurricanes to re-sign Cam Ward and add a third potential starter to the mix. While I guess carrying three goalies could work, a more direct approach would be keeping only one of Ward and Darling. The predicament is that Darling and the $12.3 million still owed on his current contract are virtually untradeable. And though Ward performed well as a backup in 2017-18, if the Hurricanes stick to two goalie slots and keep Darling, better would be to use the currently open slot to add a potential starter.
3) Derek Ryan or Joakim Nordstrom
With the addition of Jordan Martinook who can fill a fourth line role and importantly kill penalties and the need to leave room for rookies to rise up, my thinking is that the team could have room for one of Joakim Nordstrom or Derek Ryan as a depth forward but probably not both. Both are impending free agents, so my best guess is that the team allows one of the two to depart. Simply because I expect the team to go in a different direction at the center position and because Derek Ryan will garner a higher salary, my best guess is that the team does re-sign Nordstrom for veteran depth but parts ways with Ryan this summer.
4) Jeff Skinner or Justin Faulk
If the team is truly going to shake things up in terms of chemistry, lineup, locker room and leadership, best guess is that one of Jeff Skinner or Justin Faulk could be the veteran to go. Both players have contracts that expire soon, and both have been aboard for almost all of the long run of playoff misses. I put the odds as fairly high that one Skinner or Faulk is gone by October. But then After threatening to think outside the box, the revamping of the management and coaching staff more or less ended up being a reshuffling of existing personnel which suggests a minor reshuffling of a few depth players instead is not out of the question.
What say you Canes fans?
1) Which of these either/or choices do you believe will be made this summer?
2) For each of the four scenarios, what would be your choice?
3) Who has other either/or choices for the Hurricanes’ offseason?