Today’s Daily Cup of Joe is a set of quick hitters on the Hurricanes forwards going from A to Z.
Sebastian Aho: He will improve anyway over the next few years, but I think reaching his ceiling will require the addition of another top-end scoring forward with whom Aho can work.
Bryan Bickell: Who had him making such a lasting impression when he came over in the trade with the Blackhawks? Certainly not I. He is a testament to the fact that as cool as hockey is, great people and great people stories trump great hockey and great hockey stories every single time.
Patrick Brown: After a fairly extended run at the NHL level this season, I am not sure that Brown is more than NHL-ready/experienced depth at the AHL level in case of a rash of injuries. He just does not bring enough offensively for what I would prefer to do with the fourth line.
Phil Di Giuseppe: I have beaten this drum numerous times already, but I continue to think if he can just slow the game down ever so slightly with the puck on his stick and start finishing that he has another level. Right now, it is exactly that scoring that makes him a decent depth forward who can score a little and more.
Elias Lindholm: He is the player I will be most anxious to watch out of the gate when the 2017-18 regular season starts. His level of play was so dramatically higher once the switch seemed to flip on near the middle of the season. I want to see him start the season at somewhere close to that level to validate that there was in fact some kind of transformation not just an extended upswing destined to be followed by another dip.
Jay McClement: My best guess is that McClement will not be re-signed. In his time with the Hurricanes, he contributed most significantly on the ice as a penalty killer, but I think his longer lasting impact and the thing that must be replaced is his quiet, unselfish professionalism. The way he quietly went about his work as a role player day in and day out is something that rubs off on young players over time.
Brock McGinn: I like McGinn’s Nathan Gerbe-like every shift intensity as much as anyone, but if I was Ron Francis, I think McGinn is the player that I would begrudgingly lose to Las Vegas. As I wrote in an early expansion draft article awhile back, my math has two forward spots remaining for only two of Lee Stempniak, Brock McGinn and Phil Di Giuseppe. Conventional wisdom suggests that Francis will expose and lose the veteran Stempniak instead of risking youth. I just think in terms of playing to win in 2017-18, Stempniak is the most valuable and that Francis will risk one of the two younger players. It is a tough call between McGinn and Di Giuseppe, but I give the slight edge to Di Giuseppe for the final protected slot and go against the consensus thinking that the Hurricanes will lose McGinn in the expansion draft.
Andrej Nestrasil: I think there is a strong chance that he is not with the Hurricanes (or the Checkers next season). His qualifying offer would need to be a one-way deal, and I do not think Francis will make that offer. At that point, Nestrasil likely shops his services elsewhere and leaves.
Joakim Nordstrom: I actually think Nordstrom is in a similar position to Brown but has the advantage of significant NHL experience and his proven ability as a penalty killer. Nordstrom fits nicely in a #13 role as a safe and sound option who can hop in out of the lineup and plays his way up higher if the team is short on penalty killers.
Victor Rask: It might be that it just is not possible, but if I could spend his summer for him it would be working with a strength training, skating specialist or whoever else might help him add a stride or two in terms of speed and a faster burst in terms of acceleration. I think some combination of quickness and speed is the biggest limitation on his ceiling as a player still on the young side of 24.
Derek Ryan: If re-signed (which I think he will be), I see him competing for the fourth-line center slot with Lucas Wallmark and sticking at the NHL level as a #13/#14 depth forward even if he ultimately loses the competition.
Jeff Skinner: Skinner’s 37 goals for the 2016-17 season is underappreciated. Finishing sixth in the entire NHL puts him in rarefied air and looks even more impressive when you consider that Skinner largely makes and finishes his own chances.
Jordan Staal: It is not inconceivable that Staal is the oldest skater on the team next season. It would take a chain of events that includes McClement not being re-signed (likely), Stempniak being lost to the expansion draft (definitely possible per expert opinions), Derek Ryan either signing elsewhere or finding his way back to the AHL (possible but less likely) and obviously no one else older than Staal being added (reasonably possible). In such a scenario, Cam Ward would be the elder statesman on the team, and Jordan Staal would be the oldest skater at only 29 years old when the season starts.
Lee Stempniak: He grew on me as the season progressed. I am not sure that he has the dynamic element that generates offense out of thin air, but I think he is capable of being a complementary third forward on almost any kind of line. Based on reading a few early articles/projections for the expansion draft, Stempniak is the consensus pick as the player that the Hurricanes will lose.
Teuvo Teravainen: I think the mid-point for his next deal is $2.5 million per season. Anything less is a bargain. Anything more than about $2.7 million starts to become a bit pricey, though not in a deal-breaker kind of way.
Lucas Wallmark: I really like the idea of building a fourth line that can provide more like third line scoring punch around either him or Derek Ryan to start the 2017-18 season.
What say you Caniacs?
Especially those who watch, want to chime in but just haven’t yet, pick a Canes forward or two or three and give us your quick hitters.