Two days ago for Tuesday’s Daily Cup of Joe, I looked at limitations for a number of players relative to the most optimistic projections for them.
Today’s Daily Cup of Joe aims to strike a balance and goes the other direction in listing seven things that I really like about the current state of the Carolina Hurricanes (not in order of importance).
1) Budget space
What exactly the team’s internal budget will be for the 2018-19 season and beyond under new owner Tom Dundon is unclear. But what is know is that the Hurricanes currently sit in 30th out of 31 NHL teams, barely ahead of the Arizona Coyotes, in terms of spending versus the salary cap for the 2017-18 season. New contracts that kick in for Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce in 2018-19 and the need to re-sign Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindholm will use up some of the available cap space, but the Hurricanes are still in an enviable position in terms of having the flexibility to add players with sizable cap hits.
2) Sebastian Aho
Is he better at center or at wing? Will he hit any bumps in the road if he transitions full-time to center? Does he need another higher-end forward added to the mix to reach his full potential in terms of offensive production? There are questions around the details of Sebastian Aho’s situation and results going forward, but what is unmistakable after only two years in the NHL is that he is already a very good NHL player. As such, he is a huge positive looking into the Hurricanes future.
3) Teuvo Teravainen as Robin
We could have a healthy debate as to the primary cause of Teuvo Teravainen’s emergence in 2017-18. Did he just have a great year? Has he simply matured as a player? Has Sebastian Aho boosted his level of play? Regardless, Teravainen seems primed to be a second capable player on a scoring line featuring Sebastian Aho, and that is a good thing going forward.
4) The starting point of Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce for building out a good blue line
As with Aho, we can nitpick various things like whether they bring quite enough offensively, whether they maybe took a small step down in 2018-19 relative to their breakout seasons in 2016-17 or whatever else. But as a pair of 23-year olds, the duo represents a great foundation for building out a strong blue line with some time to run.
5) The potential of the young blue line in total
At just about every check point along the way, I have noted that the Hurricanes young blue line has yet to emerge as an every-game strength that drives wins. And at some point, the group needs to cross that bridge and go from being ‘potential’ to ‘reality.’ But patience aside, the group continues to have the potential to be incredibly good if it can just put it all together. With Haydn Fleury joining the ranks of young players with significant NHL experience this season, the group already at the NHL level is significant, and there are still a few prospects below who can help.
6) The depth of the Hurricanes’ prospect pool
Sometimes the fan base maybe expects too much from prospects who have yet to even prove that they can hold down an NHL job. And while there are no guarantees on individual prospects, one has to like the volume/depth that the Hurricanes have right now. The team is just beginning to reach the point where Francis’ years of stockpiling and using extra draft picks pays dividends. In the next few years, the potential to fill at least depth roster spots with AHL call ups is at a recent high. If just a handful of players can do even better and become top half of the roster players, the future will be very bright.
7) New ownership
To be completely honest, I am not yet sure what to make of Tom Dundon. On the one hand, he has clearly demonstrated that he will make changes. Change was needed so that, at a conceptual level, is a good thing. On the other hand, the harder part is figuring out what the change and what to keep and not throwing the baby out with the bath water in the process. But again at a higher level, an ownership change was desperately needed. We had reached full ‘lame duck’ level for Peter Karmanos’ time as owner such that getting a fresh start was needed. So while reserving judgment on the specifics, I believe the team benefits from charting a course into a new future.
What say you Canes fans?
Despite the disappointing outcome for the 2017-18 season, what things do you really like about the current state of the Carolina Hurricanes?