For anyone checking in looking for a recap/notes from the Hurricanes 3-2 overtime win against the Buffalo Sabres on Monday night, I will post something possibly either in my preview for Tuesday’s game or in a dual recap afterward. With only the radio call and statistics to go from, evaluating the game and individual players is obviously quite limited.
Today’s Daily Cup of Joe picks up where yesterday’s left off identifying and handicapping a few more dark horse candidates for 2017-18 opening day roster spots. If you missed it, yesterday I considered the situations and chances for Jake Bean, Phil Di Giuseppe, Julien Gauthier, Martin Necas, Nicolas Roy and Lucas Wallmark.
I think he has a unique advantage in terms of trying to win a roster spot ahead of schedule in that he played in a checking line type role in juniors. So he could potentially step right into a fourth line slot and be reasonably comfortable with the role. He lasted much later than expected in last fall’s training camp and could do so again this fall.
Foegele’s path to opening night in the NHL is to replace the skill sets of a fourth line wing (i.e Jooris or Nordstrom) as a sound defensive player and ideally a penalty killer, and then he needs to offer depth scoring potential on top of that.
Prior to the Traverse City tourney, I would have had Kuokkanen near the top of the list of forward prospects who could come from off the depth chart and win a roster spot. He had a strong prospect camp and was intermittently potent offensively at the Traverse City tourney. He can play center or wing, but I do not see Francis keeping Kuokkanen as a fourth line wing, so I think he would need to seize a center slot to stick with the big club for opening day. That requires either an injury or Kuokkanen blowing the doors off offensively in preseason such that he climbs over incumbent scoring center Derek Ryan. If that does not happen, he immediately starts his next battle trying to rise above Wallmark, Roy and Poturalski in Charlotte to be the first center call up in the event of an injury.
He needs to have a big training camp offensively such that Peters just cannot turn down his scoring potential.
Saarela is a bit like Kuokkanen in the sense that his calling card is proving to be part of the equation that provides the additional goal scoring that the team needs. But I think Saarela has a bit of an advantage as more of a pure finisher and also a wing. The issue for Saarela is that the team is reasonably set for the top 9 at the wing position which means that Saarela would have to be lights out to win a spot.
The team needs more goals, so if Saarela can score in bunches in preseason, it becomes really hard to cut him.
Zykov’s calling card in his two-game stint in the NHL in 2016-17 was a single eye-opening game (he was injured on his first shift in the second game) performance as a net driver and chaos creator in and around the crease. He scored a nifty rebound goal and just generally made life miserable for the opposition around its own net. I noted in my practice write up from Sunday that he looked a step quicker in drills. He is a long shot anyway, but the fact that he was still wearing a yellow no-contract jersey on Sunday does not help. That said, the Hurricanes need more ugly goals, and that is Zykov’s game.
He needs to surge offensively and also show that he is capable of handling NHL pace especially at puck transition points.
What say you Canes fans?
Will one of the players on either yesterday or today’s dark horse list surprise and win a roster spot for opening night?
Who do you like if an injury makes and opening?