Especially the front part of the offseason is spent speculating and dreaming about moves that could be made to improve the team from the outside. And no doubt, adding new players is a key tool for improving.
But with the way the league works with many players on long-term deals, much of the roster will return even in a year when management wants to shake things up. As such, significant potential for improvement exists from within the current roster.
Today’s Daily Cup of Joe takes a shot at identifying room for improvement for many of the returning players.
He has made nice step-wise progress offensively in his first two years in the NHL. Aho is a good player who is only getting better. But I think he could continue from ongoing strength training. He does not need to morph into a power forward to be successful, but just like any young athlete his game will benefit if he uses his offseasons to become better physically for each next season.
Put simply, he needs to find another step or two of quickness/acceleration. The single thing that jumps out to me about Faulk’s game when he is struggling is that somewhere along the way he lost two-stride acceleration and quickness. The result too often is that Faulk allows too much time and space and opponents capitalize.
Darling needs to do the work this summer to show up in training camp in the best shape of his life. The physical part of it should help, but maybe more significantly, being ready physically has the potential to boost his confidence which is in my opinion even more important.
Jeff Skinner possesses a wealth of offensive ability and a tremendous ability to both create and finish his own offense. But the task of finding line mates that he meshes with such that he makes them better and vice versa has been more elusive in recent years. I think Jeff Skinner could benefit from doing some video working watching how a couple receive/finish type scorers are so effective playing without the puck. I also think he could benefit from watching a pure puck distributor or two to see how they play with the puck on their stick and generate scoring chances for line mates. The aim is for Skinner to make modest strides in terms of making his line mates better instead of being a one-man show.
A bit like Justin Faulk, Rask could benefit from gaining even a modest amount of quickness and/or acceleration.
He had another solid year defensively in 2017-18 and produced at a reasonable level offensively despite not receiving power play ice time. Pesce has decent instincts offensively joining off the rush but sometimes struggles to receive and put the puck on net. As such, I think there are at least a few more goals to be had by Pesce if he can improve his finishing. So this summer’s homework is to spend some time working on receiving and shooting the puck and getting it on net.
My homework assignment for Jaccob Slavin would be to review tape on his penalty kill play. At a basic level, Slavin has a decent skill set for penalty kill duties, but it just did not work in 2017-18. He was on the ice for nearly every power play goal allowed. I would guess there is something to be learned from watching and evaluating penalty kill play.
What say you Canes fans?
1) In terms of making the 2018-19 NHL Playoffs, what do you think the split needs to be in terms of improving from within versus adding help from outside?
2) Do you agree with the work lists above?
3) What summer work items would you add for these or other returning players?