First, for those not already following around, the Canes prospect team played to 0-1 loss to Detroit on Friday and a 5-4 overtime win versus Dallas on Saturday. There is no TV or video stream for the game, so there is little I can offer in terms of analysis other than trying to interpret the score sheet (which can be dangerous). Couple quick observations:
–Tirronen only allowed 1 goal in the Friday night opener.
–The defenseman carried the load offensively on Saturday with Brett Pesce scoring twice and Roland McKeown once. The blue line collected 6 of the 9 scoring points.
–Sergey Tolchinsky busted out on the score sheet scoring the team’s 1st goal in the tourney and also the overtime game-winner in addition to collecting an assist.
On Friday, Hurricanes GM Ron Francis pulled off a nice trade to add a top 6 forward, actually upgrade a 2017 draft pick from 5th round to 3rd round in the process and not give up very much. He basically capitalized on the Blackhawks’ salary cap issues to upgrade his team at no cost.
I offered my detailed thoughts on the why and what of that trade shortly after it hit the newswire on Friday. You can read that HERE.
So where do Kris Versteeg and Joakim Nordstrom fit for the 2015-16 Hurricanes?
Kris Versteeg. Versteeg is a smaller, skilled/scoring right wing. He fills the hole vacated by Alexander Semin and almost certainly slots at right wing on 1 of the Canes top 2 lines. He could bring skill and a bit of playmaking to a Staal/Staal line. He could also play opposite Skinner on a skilled, scoring line. Regardless of how the lines shake out, the Canes were short at right wing. He is also a versatile player who could play power play and/or penalty kill as needed. If Peters stays top heavy with a Staal/Staal line, I like Versteeg to bring some playmaking to that line from the wing.
Joakim Nordstrom. Nordstrom adds some AHL/NHL experienced depth at forward. He is on a 2-way contract, so he can play at either level with a level-appropriate salary. Nordstrom has been limited offensively thus far in his NHL career (1 goal and 5 assists in 54 NHL games) which is probably why he was available. But as a defensively sound forward with at least some NHL experience, he offers the kind of depth a team needs for when the injury bug bites. When you slot the Canes current forwards, they have 12 NHLers (10 players on 1-way contracts and Rask and Lindholm who are technically on 2-way contracts but are very unlikely to see the AHL at this point). Past that only Zach Boychuk and TJ Hensick have any significant NHL experience, so Nordstrom adds a 3rd depth player with NHL experience. Best guess is that he starts the season in Charlotte if the Canes enter the regular season reasonably healthy. Best guess is that he gets a fair chance to win a roster spot same as everyone else but that he starts in Charlotte if the Canes enter the regular season healthy.