Right now, the Hurricanes have two young players new to the roster in 2021-22 who have the potential to add higher-end scoring depth to the top half of the lineup.
Jesperi Kotkaniemi was acquired with the hope and to some degree expectation that he could be exactly that when the Hurricanes gave up first and third round draft picks and also ponied up a $6.1 million salary that spent most of what was left in the salary cap budget.
Seth Jarvis, on the other hand, was projected to be back in juniors by now, but a good training camp/preseason and an auspicious start to his NHL career has him still at least potentially in the mix for a longer-term stay in Raleigh.
On the surface, these two situations might appear to be separate, but I actually think they are very much intertwined.
If you consider Jordan Staal and Jesper Fast to be a pair for a third checking/match up line (that is also scoring at a decent clip) and also like what Niederreiter brought to that line as another big body who could play a heavy, cycling game in the offensive zone, then that really only leaves five players to build out the top two scoring lines — Aho, Svechnikov, Teravainen, Trocheck and Necas. Especially if the Hurricanes want to improve from last season, the team really needs one more player who can score at a top six forward pace and not just be a low-scoring complementary player. At a basic level, I think the point of parting ways with solid depth players McGinn and Foegele was to try to upgrade scoring-wise in this slot.
Kotkaniemi was added to do exactly that, but has started slow with only three points in 13 games for a meager 19-point pace over 82 games despite a pretty decent helping of scoring-favorable line mates and also some power play ice time. By no means is it time to make a final evaluation of his acquisition, but at the same time, keeping open other options who might be able to help upgrade the top six seems reasonable. Enter Seth Jarvis. Jarvis’ two points in six games is probably a bit understated. He had at least a couple assists left on the table when playing on the fourth line and not having some grade A setups finished, and he also has two goals that were wiped away by reviews. Maybe more significantly, the volume of decent of better scoring chances that he has been a part of in six games is a much higher pace than Kotkaniemi.
In an ideal world, the Hurricanes would send Jarvis back to juniors and slide the first year of his entry-level contract forward another year because the NHL lineup was too deep to have room for him anyway. But with the Hurricanes very much trying to win now, if Jarvis has even a reasonable potential to be part of that the team might be willing to spend some future for today. After all, they did give up two draft picks and a sizable contract to Kotkaniemi for exactly the same reason.
In this regard, I think the other big question is if/how much one would expect Jarvis to improve the team for the playoffs which is all that really matters in the end. In that regard, I think the interesting question is if you would rather spend a top six slot on Jarvis or if instead maybe the team would consider spending more futures at the trade deadline to add a middle of the lineup or better veteran to the mix for the playoffs.
I am torn. Jarvis has impressed me thus far. As a young player who has already shown capable of think the game at NHL speed despite minimal experience doing so, he should continue to improve at a rapid pace as he learns. That situation offers significant potential for upside. On the other hand, the combination of adding more of a power forward type forward rental at the trade deadline and in the process saving a year of Jarvis’ entry-level contract could win for this year while also helping future years too.
What say you Canes fans?
1) Do you think that Kotkaniemi’s modest start as a Hurricane could impact the decision on whether to keep Jarvis at the NHL level and burn the year of his entry-level contract?
2) Do you see Jarvis being a difference-maker or just a capable complementary player come 2022 NHL Playoff time?
3) With three more games before a decision needs to be made, what would you do with Seth Jarvis for 2021-22?