Here is a random notes that have yet to make it into another Carolina Hurricanes blog post:
1) I do not buy the argument that the Canes need to get bigger (at least prioritized above speed and skill) to be successful.
All things (speed and skill being most important) being equal, bigger is better than smaller for hockey players, but especially at the forward position, I think size is completely overrated. Give me fast over big any day of the week. I also think that size is overrated in terms of going to the front of the net to score. We have seen big Canes who were unwilling to the front of the net consistently, and I would argue that Tyler Johnson and other smaller players with a nose for goals do just fine in the dirty areas despite lack of size.
I think the most telling thing is both of the past 2 Stanley Cup Finals. It now seems likely that the Pittsburgh Penguins will win the Stanley Cup with a forward lineup that averages a meager 195 pounds. That compares to the 12 players currently listed on the Canes web site who average 199 pounds.
To anyone watching the Finals and the Penguins’ run, the root of their success is obvious. They are incredibly quick especially in transition, and they attack with speed and skill. Partly the result is scoring, but maybe equally importantly the result is the Pens play with the puck and/or in the offensive zone more than whoever they are playing against. The 2015 Stanley Cup Finals between Chicage and Tampa Bay was a battle of 2 below average teams in terms of size but way above average in terms of speed and skill battling it out.
Because players on average are getting bigger, I think there is a misconception that size is the most important thing. I do not buy it.
2) If the Hurricanes do deal a young defenseman to improve at forward, I would love to have John-Michael Liles back if he is accepting of his role.
I am on record as being willing to trade 1 or both of Brett Pesce and Ryan Murphy for the right deal to add help at forward. I am NOT saying that I want to unload either at any cost or do not like them. Rather, it is simply that you have to give something up to get something in return, and the Canes need forwards.
If that did happen, I would be happy to bring John-Michael Liles back. His role as a leader for the young defensemen and especially a mentor/partner for Brett Pesce was underappreciated last season. I read an article this week in which a Bruins’ writer estimated his next contract at $2.2 million. That is probably a little high for what the Canes can spend on a depth defenseman, but if by chance he and his family like Raleigh and the Canes organization and if he would be interested in returning in a mentoring type role, I would stretch a bit and pay a premium up to $1.7-1.8 million because of Liles’ demonstrated ability to help the kids.
If Pesce and Murphy both stay, that would make 7 defensemen and no real room for Liles, but if a spot opens up for depth, I like Liles as a #5-7 and mentor.