Today’s Daily Cup of Joe offers a short collection of random Canes notes.
Right now, Teuvo Teravainen has a pretty strong claim to being the team’s most underrated player. I think most engaged Canes appreciate Teravainen for the most part, but he still seems to rank a bit below the star level. Sebastian Aho established himself as the team’s young offensive leader at 20 years old in 2018-19. Andrei Svechnikov is in the process of doing the same at 19 years old in 2019-20. Dougie Hamilton is scoring at a scorching pace from the back end. And though still a work in progress, Martin Necas has a chance to become the next scorer to break through before being old enough to legally buy an alcoholic beverage.
Meanwhile, Teuvo Teravainen finished second on the team in scoring in 2018-19 and quietly sits in the same place so far for 2019-20. Per my evaluation, Teravainen has been the team’s best player on an improved power play. So many of the Hurricanes power play goals have been a direct result of pretty passes from Teravainen that made for easy finishes. In addition, Teravainen has evolved to become a complete two-way player such that I think his game is easily the most mature in that area for the group of players mentioned above.
Though I do think the younger players’ ceiling is a tiny bit higher than Teravainen’s offensively, he might actually be the best of the group so far in 2019-20 based on including his two-way play.
The defensive yin to Teuvo Teravainen’s yang is Brett Pesce. Again, I think the part of the Hurricanes fan base that tracks the team closely probably has the correct level of appreciation for Brett Pesce. But in broader circles of fans who track the team less closely, Brett Pesce is underrated. By virtue of never being a regular on the power play, his scoring totals have always been limited. Worth noting in that regard though is that if you look at even strength scoring Pesce stacks up favorably. And as a player whose core skill set is defending, Pesce is not one to regularly show up in the highlight reels. With Hamilton surging offensively and Slavin seeming to be a notch higher when outsiders discuss the Hurricanes blue line, Pesce seems to get recognition for being a good defensive defenseman but is still I think underappreciated.
Increasingly, I think Martin Necas is the key to the Hurricanes finding the next level. Sebastian Aho has established himself as a top-tier NHL center. Jordan Staal is a completely different kind of player and is admittedly light on offense but is capable of logging ice time against the league’s best. But with Staal just not bringing much in terms of playmaking or finishing, the Hurricanes ideally need another offense-leaning center to be the catalyst for a third line that leans offense. The team has become deeper in terms of offensive ability on the wing with Svechnikov, Teravainen, Dzingel, Niederreiter and at least for now Necas. While it is possible to drive offense through the wing, ideal is to have centers who can generate scoring chances for their wings. Sheer volume of shots and good scoring chances for wings goes a long way toward boosting scoring and creating balance throughout the lineup.
Though a bit raw still in some areas of his game, Necas has the part of that skill set that you cannot teach. He skates well both in s straight line but more importantly laterally. That gives Necas the ability to drive the puck into the offensive zone with pace and also create space and passing lanes to generate scoring chances for his line mates. Obtaining a top 6 scoring center via trade or free agency is incredibly difficult. Such players rarely hit the open market and when they do the bidding war is usually fierce. And within the organization currently, only Ryan Suzuki likely has the skill set to be a higher-end offensive center (and he is farther out). So sure there are any number of different ways for the Hurricanes to boost scoring and improve overall, but I really think an eventual move to center by Necas is the most immediate path to becoming a deeper team offensively. Best best is that such a transition does not occur in 2019-20 while Necas acclimates to the NHL, but could he audition there next season?
What say you Canes fans?
1) Do you agree that Teuvo Teravainen and Brett Pesce are underrated at least outside the inner circle of fans who track the Canes closely?
2) What are your thoughts on Martin Necas eventually moving back to the center position and becoming an offensive catalyst for a second scoring line?