Reports out of PNC Arena are that the team resumed skating at least in small groups on Monday. That would make for a six-day layoff which is eerily similar to the bye weeks that wrecked teams returning against non-bye week teams a couple years back. In rescheduling the missed games, the NHL did not cancel/reschedule Thursday’s now home opener against the Tampa Bay Lightning, so best bet is that Canes hockey returns in two days.
With no games or significant Canes hockey news past COVID protocol updates, today’s Daily Cup of Joe offers a set of random Canes musings.
Yesterday’s Daily Cup of Joe pondered whether the Hurricanes still needed one or two more high-end players to climb up into the top tier of the NHL and become one of the favorites not just a contender to win the Stanley Cup. The article was triggered by the trade that sent Pierre Luc Dubois to Winnipeg and Patrik Laine to Columbus thereby eliminating two players with the potential to be such difference-makers. But because of the scarcity of high-end players available on the open market, much more common is to have another player emerge from within an organization. If one counts Andrei Svechnikov as already there or at least imminent, I would argue that Martin Necas has the greatest chance short-term to add another high-end player from within. His 20-goal pace (for 82-game season) as a rookie in 2019-20 is nothing to sneeze at, and he clearly has upside from there. Because of that he is a player that I am watching very closely to start the 2020-21 season hoping to see hints that he is on the verge of taking a sizable step up. Through three games Necas has been decent but not overly noticeable or spectacular. He has had a few flashes just like in 2019-20 but has yet to become a player who drives play on an every shift, or even most shift, basis. I am watching Necas’ play for two things. First is that ability to be more than an intermittent spark. Can he become the kind of player that you notice regularly throughout the course of a game or series of games? Second, I continue to watch to see if he becomes more comfortable playing with the puck on his stick and using his skating ability to create scoring chances for himself and his line mates. As an 18-year old prospect playing against other prospects, that ability was the hallmark of his game and in my opinion his greatest upside. He is in a little bit different role as a wing and still seems to be trying to figure out when he can and cannot work laterally at the NHL level where the potential is always there to turn right into a thunderous check. But though it has not been regular, I have noticed Necas starting to return to some of his roots.
As I said on Twitter on Monday, one positive that could come out of the COVID situation is that Jake Bean might get a run of at least a couple games in the lineup with Jaccob Slavin among those on the list. I am eager to see what that brings. I have long been not as high on Jake Bean as many, and I still think his ceiling is likely that of a good #5 defenseman who leans offense and can contribute on the, power play. Though maybe a bit short of high hopes for a first-round draft pick, that would still be a useful and valuable addition to the depth chart. But more significantly, what he is capable of should be determined from what he can do on the ice at the NHL level. He has hockey smarts, skating ability and offensive capabilities that fit in today’s NHL, and he has mastered the AHL level. That should get him a look at the NHL level to see what he can become. Here is hoping that I have his ceiling set too low.
After seeing Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov produce offensively despite playing only a handful of shifts together, might it make sense to consider shifting Teuvo Teravainen to another line if the goal is to balance the offense. Teravainen and Aho obviously have chemistry but so does Aho and Svechnikov. And just maybe Teravainen’s playmaking can boost goal scoring for a couple other forwards. Vincent Trocheck is not shy about shooting the puck. Maybe he and another forward could benefit from Teravainen on a second scoring line.
What say you Canes fans?
1) What are your thoughts on Martin Necas play through three games? Is anyone else seeing small steps toward playing a bit more with the puck on his stick and generating offense with his skating ability?
2) Who else is excited/hopes Jake Bean nets a run of a few games from the current lineup situation?
3) If Brind’Amour sticks to what seems to be his preference for balancing lines, what are your thoughts on uniting Aho and Svechnikov and instead moving Teravainen elsewhere for a bit?