For anyone looking for notes/recap from Wednesday’s 3-0 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, hope is to find time to post those during the day on Thursday.
Much can and will change over the course of preseason. And then even once things are decided to start the regular season, things will continue to change over the course of a long and unpredictable 82-game NHL season. But at the same time, these preseason games are a point of evaluation for players, especially those on the AHL/NHL cut line.
Today’s Daily Cup of Joe takes a quick look at players rising in terms of standing on the depth chart and case for an opening night roster spot.
Gauthier is probably the biggest riser through two games. Credit to some combination of Mike Vellucci and just maturing as a player, Julien Gauthier has been the story of preseason so far. He played well in Tuesday’s game and then followed it up with an even better effort on Wednesday. On Wednesday, Gauthier regularly looked like a power forward to be reckoned with at the NHL level with the puck on his stick. That was not new. But what was how hard he was on the puck in all three zones and how engaged he was on a consistent basis. As I said on Twitter shortly after Wednesday’s game, if ice time is truly to be earned based on merit, Gauthier has officially challenged Martin Necas for one of the last roster spots.
Playing with Gauthier on Wednesday, Clark Bishop also had a strong game. His goal was the headline, but I think a couple consecutive shifts that he had on the forecheck in the second period are more likely what stood out to Brind’Amour. He was tenacious and annoying. He had one sequence where he about ran a Lightning defenseman through the boards cleanly and then earned a Canes power play when he retaliated. Bishop does not have the scoring ceiling of a few of the other options, but more so than any other forward competing for NHL ice time, Bishop plays wing the way Brind’Amour wants it in his system.
With a crowded bottom of the blue line and a number of other options, Fleury had a strong preseason debut on Tuesday to make a strong statement that he belonged on the NHL roster.
Many maybe did not notice or quickly forgot that Nedeljkovic had a shot go right through him shortly after entering Wednesday’s game, but fortunately the puck managed to skid wide of the net. But Nedeljkovic was perfect after that. All four Canes goalies have been perfect thus far, but Nedeljkovic was tested the most of the group in my opinion. I think it takes an injury for Nedeljkovic to start the season at the NHL level, but playing to generate confidence will benefit him in the long run.
What say you Canes fans?
Through two preseason games, which player(s) do you think have most improved their chances of winning an NHL roster spot?