Today’s Daily Cup of Joe offers a short collection of random thoughts/notes.
Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov
From the ‘ask and you shall receive’ folder, I clamored on Friday morning for Svechnikov to be bumped up to Aho’s line to try to help both players get going offensively (Svechnikov in terms of goal scoring and Aho just in general). A few hours later at practice that hope was realized. Almost nothing is ever permanent as far as NHL lines go, but I think this duo has the potential to spend a lot of time together over the coming year for two reasons, one obvious and the other much more subtle. Obvious is that both players have the potential to be high-end scorers. Aho has already established himself as such but does have room to go up one more notch. Svechnikov is not officially there yet but clearly has the tool set and seems to be trending that way. There are always exceptions, but successful teams in the NHL very often have an elite top line. Aho and Svechnikov have the potential to be that for the Hurricanes. The more subtle reason why they could stick together is that the rest of the Canes lineup for the first time in a long time has the potential to support a top-heavy first line. So far there seems to be enough other offense that the team does not become too one-dimensional by going this route.
Still waiting for deep depth scoring
Early on, the third line has emerged as a productive scoring threat. As noted above, that is critical to being able to stock a top line with the aim of building an eventual juggernaut that can compete with the NHL’s top lines. Right now, people think about the third line and speak loosely about depth scoring. But the other side of the coin is the lack of scoring from the fourth line. On paper, what the team has available to stock the fourth line would seemingly produce scoring at a decent clip. Lucas Wallmark is a heady player who is capable even if not dynamic offensively. Brock McGinn posted 16 goals only two years ago. Jordan Martinook is coming off a 15-goal 2018-19 campaign. And Warren Foegele showed his potential upside with a strong finish and playoffs in 2018-19. The options would suggest that the team will get good depth scoring from the fourth line. And the talk of depth also seems to make fourth-line scoring almost a foregone conclusion. But through 11 games that scoring has yet to really emerge. The combination of Lucas Wallmark, Brock McGinn, Warren Foegele, Jordan Martinook, Brian Gibbons and Julien Gauthier have logged a total of 42 games. Normal would be three players at eleven games per player for a total of 33 total games. Despite the extra games, the group has tallied only a single goal and eight assists. If projected over three players for a full season, the average would be one goal and 20 assists per fourth-line forward. But that number is inflated by the fact that some of McGinn and Foegele’s production occurred playing up above the fourth line. So a real project is probably 1 goal and 10-15 assists per player. That meager amount would rank below the Nordstrom/Kruger/Jooris group that struggled and was mostly demoted to the AHL for lack of production. Eleven games is a small enough sample size that there is reason for hope, but the situation is worth watching. Many grumbled about Brind’Amour going with 11 forwards and 7 defensemen for a couple games. He did not say it directly, but part of me wonders if a contributing factor in this odd lineup was to try to spark the fourth line with ice time playing with a double-shifting forward like Aho who could maybe provide a needed spark to get things going.
What say you Canes fans?
1) Do you see the Sebastian Aho/Andrei Svechnikov duo as something that clicks and sticks? Or do you think more likely it is just another combination that comes and goes with the shifting sands of a long NHL season?
2) Did you realize that the fourth line scoring was as low as it is? What do you think it takes to spark this group and for it to provide the reasonable depth scoring that was hoped for at the beginning of the season?