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Random notes on building the Hurricanes forward roster and lines
I had ambitious plans of finishing up an article that offered a slightly more detailed look at the various roster battles underway. But life got in the way a bit, that will wait while instead I offer a bit of an ad hoc list of thoughts on building out the forward lines.
Don’t make the same mistake twice – Lucas Wallmark versus Jordan Martinook
Victor Rask’s injury opened up another center slot. The two names that come up most in this regard are Jordan Martinook and Lucas Wallmark. I cannot help but feel that those advocating for Martinook missed the 2017-18 season when the team centered its fourth line with offense lite Marcus Kruger. The result was a line that was not horrible defensively but were still outscored by a large margin because they scored virtually nothing. The center position, even the fourth line, MUST have some amount of playmaking ability to prevent it from being a scoring nothing again in 2018-19. With the team minus Jeff Skinner and needing to boost scoring, the fourth line needs to produce something. I think that Lucas Wallmark and Jordan Martinook are worlds apart in this regard.
‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ – Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen
I completely agree with Brind’Amour’s rationale for playing Aho and Teravainen apart early in preseason. The two have chemistry and a nice log of games together such that seeing them with other players is not a bad thing. But as the preseason winds close to the regular season, I will be surprised if Aho and Teravainen are reunited. I get that the team has some issues spreading experience throughout a young lineup, but I would not address that by breaking up a combination that was 1+1=3.
Not if but when – Andrei Svechnikov
The more I watch Andrei Svechnikov, the more I think he will eventually fit well with Aho and Teravainen to take a run at creating a scoring line of point per game players. What I like about Svechnikov is that he plays well with the puck on his stick but looks equally comfortable and effective playing without the puck as a receive and shoot type finisher. Either that or just a pure power forward could complement Aho and Teravainen, and Svechnikov projects to be a notch higher than the power forward alternatives like Zykov. The big question is when. It will be interesting to see where Brind’Amour starts Svechnikov. I am not sure he will want to start him on a top scoring line, and I think the defensive responsibilities and lack of playmaking from Staal’s line could be a poor fit for a young scorer. After that Brind’Amour is on record as saying that he preferred not to put Necas and Svechnikov together. That could see Svechnikov bumped all the way to the fourth line which will have the people focused on line numbers hollering. But if the Brind’Amour uses that line fairly evenly, Svechnikov also gets power play ice time and Wallmark centers the line as I expect, I actually thing that could be a decent entry point for Svechnikov.
Support the kid – Martin Necas
Out of the batch of rookie forwards who start the year in the NHL, I think Martin Necas could be in for the toughest bout of growing pains. Part of that is because he plays the center position. The other part is simply that his game without the puck is not as advanced as his game with it. His natural instinct is to pursue the puck on the forecheck. While this general approach is the right one, as a center understanding positioning and circumstances is critical. Necas has a tendency to lean forward a bit on the forecheck even when he is the third forward and has responsibility for coverage in the neutral zone. He could benefit from a bit of help on his wings, but it is not clear who that would be.
Six!?! – Andrei Svechnikov, Martin Necas, Warren Foegele, Janne Kuokkanen, Lucas Wallmark and Valentin Zykov
It could require an injury or possibly the Hurricanes flying a veteran across waivers, but it is not inconceivable that the team starts the season with fully half of its forwards being rookies. Foegele and Kuokkanen can easily be returned to Charlotte for recall later, but if the current trajectory continues, I just think it will be hard to keep any of Foegele, Kuokkanen or Wallmark out the lineup.
What say you Canes fans?
1) Who has random notes of their own related to building the forward roster and lines?
2) What are your thoughts on the my notes above?