Today’s Daily Cup of Joe has a random set of notes mostly aimed at helping the Hurricanes get their feet back under them and find a higher gear.
Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov
Aho did score on Thursday, so maybe that helps relieve pressure a bit and get him started. And past that Aho is just too talented to break loose at some point. But with the aim of expediting the process, I increasingly like the idea of giving Svechnikov an extended run on Aho’s wing. Aho has recently done a decent job of generating scoring chances, but many of those are going to Niederreiter who cannot buy one right now. Svechnikov would add another finisher who can also return the favor with scoring chances. Svechnikov is not at all the same as Niederreiter and Aho. Svechnikov has produced offensively, just with an odd assist versus goals split. But nonetheless, he is another player who need to pot more goals for the Canes to be successful. Why not put the two together for at least a few games to see if they can help each other get going?
Right now, a couple things jump out about Nino Niederreiter’s game. First, he is mostly doing the right things offensively. He has been posted up in scoring areas waiting for chances to finish and has had his fair share of good scoring chances. Some of lack of goals is simply bad luck, but increasingly I think there is an element of him pressing and just being able to slow things down enough to finish to targeted spots. The 2018-19 scoring version of Niederreiter had an ability to receive a puck, quickly get it off his stick and get it to a place that had a chance to score. Recently, my assessment of Niederreiter is that he is just so eager to shoot that his shots lean much more toward ‘Hurry! Get it on net’ and less toward ‘Let me pick a spot.’ Likely at this point it takes a break or two to relieve pressure and regain his finishing ability that relies on more than chucking a decent volume of shots on net. Finally, his recent propensity to take bad penalties also stands out. I view this again as him pressing and just trying to do too much at times to try to win a puck.
First impressions of Edmundson were favorable, and I still think he was a sneaky good add as part of the Justin Faulk trade to keep the Hurricanes deep on the blue line. But as Edmundon settles in and gets more comfortable in the Hurricanes system, I actually think his game is degrading a bit. That might sound odd, but here is what I am seeing…Edmundson’s starting point was that as a steady, stay-home defenseman. Initially, he seemed to play to that skill set. But with more time to acclimate and adjust and also seeing the other Canes defensemen jumping up into the play and scoring goals, I think Edmundson is trying to do a bit too much of that and is a bit of a fish out of water in that regard. He has too regularly been caught up ice such that there are breaks behind him. I am watching closely to see if Edmundson can find a healthy middle ground that matches his skill set and natural instincts.
I do not like the current roster that is skating seven defensemen and eleven forwards. Being the seventh defenseman, Fleury played only 1:30 on Thursday. I have to wonder if dressing and sitting on the bench for almost the entirety of the game is better or worse for his confidence than just being scratched. It is just speculation, but my thinking is that it could be worse. Add to that the sometimes disjointedness of not having four full forward lines, and I am not a fan.
On a somewhat related note, I think it is easy to underestimate Fleury’s significance long-term. The Hurricanes have Jaccob Slavin, Brett Pesce, Dougie Hamilton and Jake Gardiner all signed through at least the 2020-21 season. But both Trevor van Riemsdyk and Joel Edmundson are scheduled to become free agents next summer. As such, the Hurricanes will likely have need for another defenseman or two. If Fleury can grow a bit to just become a capable and competent #5 defenseman, that would be a huge benefit to the team. First, his salary is modest. Second, the team does not have a ton of NHL-ready blue line options, so Fleury could provide needed depth near-term until a next wave of prospects emerge. Trying to buy a capable #5-ish defenseman on the free agent market could cost $2 million or more. Even if imperfect, a competent Fleury earning $1 million or less is a positive for the team’s budget.
What say you Canes fans?
1) Which of these notes do you most agree with? Which do you either disagree with or question?
2) Who has other random Canes notes that we can bandy around on a Friday?