Chronological Blog List

Forgotten but not gone Canes prospects — Roland McKeown and Eetu Makiniemi

After the departure of multiple AHL veterans following the Charlotte Checkers’ Calder Cup Championship, there is a sizable list of gone but not forgotten former Canes veteran AHLers. That list grew during the past season with a number of more prospect category players traded around the 2020 NHL trade deadline. With the next wave of prospects including a haul from the 2019 NHL Draft yet to arrive at the professional ranks in the AHL, current AHL group which is still being assembled has seen massive turnover. But today’s Daily Cup of Joe actually looks at the flipside  of a couple Canes prospects who are maybe forgotten but not actually gone.   Roland McKeown With the core of the Canes blue line set with young players and the team’s propensity to still add NHL level defensemen to go five or six deep with players who are at least borderline top 4 defensemen, it has been hard for prospects to garner NHL ice time. Most notable in this group is first-rounder Jake Bean who has won awards and accolades for his play at the AHL level but still not really received an NHL audition. That figures to change in 2020-21. But nowhere on the depth chart these days is Roland McKeown who seemingly has also earned at least a shot at the NHL level. The negative on McKeown is probably that his ceiling is fairly low compared to Bean. McKeown does not have the skating ability or offensive upside as Bean, and I have always believed that his ceiling was probably that of a third pairing defenseman. But there are two...

Detailing the Carolina Hurricanes salary cap situation for 2020-21

Not too long ago I wrote about the Hurricanes salary cap situation for 2020-21 and 2021-22. The upshot was that the Hurricanes had a bit of wiggle room for 2020-21 but needed to maintain some cushion for 2021-22 when Andrei Svechnikov’s next contract will pressure the math. With Jesper Fast now in the mix, today’s Daily Cup of Joe takes a deeper dive into the 2020-21 salary cap situation and a couple nuances that could affect the roster.   The basics and then adjustments CapFriendly shows the Hurricanes with $5.1 million of salary cap space remaining. That does not include Haydn Fleury and Warren Foegele who are both restricted free agents who filed for arbitration. Most likely both get signed before arbitration. My rough estimate is $1.8 million for Warren Foegele and $1.6 million for Haydn Fleury on one-year deals. The price would rise a bit if either is signed to more term, but let’s baseline the pair at $3.4 million. In addition, Alex Nedeljkovic is no longer waiver-exempt, so if the Hurricanes try to send him to the AHL, he could be lost for nothing in return. Because of that, Nedeljkovic almost certainly stays at the NHL level adding another $737,500. Further, CapFriendly currently has Morgan Geekie ($763,333) and Jake Bean ($863,333) below the NHL level. Both players are waiver-exempt and could be sent to the AHL, but both players figure to slot at the NHL level for the 2020-21 season. But the CapFriendly tally also includes Joakim Ryan ($700,000) who figures to start the season at the AHL level if the Hurricanes blue line is healthy. With...

Random Canes thoughts — Alex Nedeljkovic and Ryan Dzingel/Nino Niederreiter

Today’s Daily Cup of Joe offers a random set of unrelated Canes thoughts/notes.   1) The importance of Alex Nedeljkovic for 2021-22 Most of the Canes discussion around goaltending right now (including from me) is whether or not there could be a meaningful upgrade from Petr Mrazek and James Reimer. I am on record as thinking that the duo is at least good enough, but at the same time, I would at least consider trying to find an upgrade in the craziest of all off-seasons for the goalie version of musical chairs. But sitting in the background of it all is Alex Nedeljkovic. He has draft pedigree. He has a history of playing some of his best hockey at lower levels in the biggest games. And he has mastered the AHL. There is absolutely no guarantee of a successful transition to the NHL based on play at lower levels; the position can be humbling even for promising prospects. But if there is a set of boxes to be checked to at least garner a a reasonable audition at the NHL level, Nedeljkovic has checked them all. Past just deserving a chance, he has the potential to play a critical role in building the 2021-22 Carolina Hurricanes. The team will manage to squeeze under the salary cap limbo pole for the 2020-21 season, but that will be more challenging next year with Andrei Svechnikov’s new contract that could add literally $7 million to the team’s cap spending. Factor in a next contract for Dougie Hamilton and the math gets tough. In net, Reimer and Mrazek who total $6.6 million in...

Where has all the forward depth gone?

Over the past few years, the Carolina Hurricanes have become a prospect pool darling for those who rate prospects and the NHL draft. The Hurricanes have young forwards Andrei Svechnikov and Martin Necas already at the NHL level. Sebastian Aho is still young in his own right. And the team has its next batch of forwards from the past couple well-rated drafts on the way. Based on that, one might assume that the Hurricanes are deep at forward. While that could well prove to be true out a couple years, the team is actually pretty light on NHL-ready forward depth right now.   The 2019-20 exodus Morgan Geekie pushed up to the NHL level and stuck, but at the same time the team mostly cleared out the group of players on the brink of the NHL during the 2020-21. Nicolas Roy was dealt before the season started. Fringe NHLers Phil Di Giuseppe and Greg McKegg left via free agency as did veteran AHLers Patrick Brown, Tomas Jurco and Andrew Poturalski. Then midway through the 2019-20 season, the Hurricanes dealt away more potential depth in Julien Gauthier, Janne Kuokkanen, Eetu Luostarinen and Lucas Wallmark. Some turnover especially with the older AHLers whose ceiling is that of deep NHL depth is the norm, but in losing so many players, the Hurricanes are actually a bit short on ready depth until the next wave of prospects develops over the next couple years.   What is left? This situation is why adding Jesper Fast or someone else was actually more of a need than a nice to have. With Fast added and Justin...

The case for Marc-Andre Fleury and more generally trying to creatively find a real difference-maker

Now four days into the NHL free agency period, the picture for teams’ rosters is gradually becoming clearer. In addition, the list of available options who could yield a difference-maker is gradually shrinking. The past day and a half has seen high-end scoring forward Taylor Hall and top defenseman Alex Pietrangelo come off the board. The goalie market has also shrunk considerably with Braden Holtby, Jacob Markstrom, Henrik Lundqvist, Cam Talbot, Anton Khudobin, Corey Crawford, Matt Murray and Thomas Greiss coming off the board. As far as the Hurricanes go, the Pietrangelo deal and the goalie market in general could be relevant  — IF the Hurricanes have an interest in Marc-Andre Fleury.   Seeking difference-makers When a team reaches the point where it is in the top half of the NHL and likely even if not certain to make the playoffs, improving becomes more difficult. Whereas it could have been possibly to fairly easily upgrade 8-10 slots on the Hurricanes teams from 5-6 years ago, that is no longer the case anymore. And trying to improve via outside help becomes even more difficult with salary cap constraints.   2020 Tampa Bay Lightning Some might argue that the 2020 Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning won the Cup by virtue of the talent that they have had in the lineup for multiple years now. No doubt that played a leading role in the championship. But after being de-pantsed by the Columbus Blue Jackets in four games in the 2019 NHL Playoffs, the Lightning a concerted effort to become tougher to play against in adding Patrick Maroon, Blake Coleman and Barclay...

Deals I would steal

The annual NHL free agent frenzy kicked off on Friday. Though the frenzy was slightly more subdued than some years, there were still a ton of free agent signings over the weekend. The Hurricanes made a small splash signing former Rangers right wing Jesper Fast. I wrote about the addition HERE. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe sorts through the numerous signings and makes a fairly short list of deals I would steal with a couple important disclaimers. First, many of the deals identified were cases where players took significant discounts to pick their destination, so these deals would not likely have actually been available to the Hurricanes. Also, my list of steals does not consider the salary cap. The Hurricanes have only a couple million available right now, so many of these deals would require additional financial maneuvering. Without further ado, the deals I like are: Henrik Lundqvist I am on record as liking the idea of upgrading in net as long as the term and salary are reasonable. At only $1.5 million per year, I would have been willing to place a low risk bet that Lundqvist could have a last second wind energized by a new team and with a better defense in front of him. I was figuring something like $3 million for one year, so $1.5 million is even better. But this is very clearly one of the deals where the player chose his destination, and it was not based on money.   Patrick Maroon Another of the discounted deals was Patrick Maroon who re-signed with the Lightning for two years at a mere $900,000...

Carolina Hurricanes sign free agent forward Jesper Fast

On Saturday, it was announced that the Hurricanes had signed right wing Jesper Fast to a three-year contract for $2 million per year. Below are my initial thoughts on the addition.   At the top level At the most basic level, Jesper Fast is a good hockey player and also unmistakably a positive add in terms of the locker room. At a salary of $2 million per year, Fast represents a quality depth addition. His scoring is not such that he dramatically changes the Hurricanes, but Fast adds quality depth that makes a difference when trying to ice a balanced, competitive lineup.   Jesper Fast Fast was an assistant captain, leader and positive influence for the Rangers. He is a strong defensive forward capable of playing against other teams’ best players and also playing on the penalty kill. Fast has scored between 20 and 30 points in each of the last five seasons, so he is not so much a scoring spark as the addition of more depth scoring. Because of that, he ideally slots more as a third line forward, but he skates well enough and is sound defensively which means he is not out of place in the top 6 when lines get shuffled or injuries make it necessary. Fast also fills a few needs. He adds a right shot and true right wing. The Hurricanes have regularly had to use players like Foegele and McGinn on the right side to balance the lineup. Though his skill set is different, he adds a right shot to replace Justin Williams. He also skates well and should fit well...

Open forum for discussion/debate on the start of free agency

At least until the Hurricanes make a move, this post can serve as The Coffee Shop for debate related to the start of free agency on Friday?   1) Who, if anyone, do you think the Hurricanes should pursue in the free agent market?   2) With limited cap space, do you think the Hurricanes will make a move (or more)?   Go...

Did the Carolina Hurricanes squander the team’s financial advantage?

With what could be a salary cap-limited and more subdued start to free agency starting at noon on Friday, I will at least put up placeholder in general and a more specific post for discussion if the Hurricanes do any deals.   Pre-Dundon For much of a decade, the Carolina Hurricanes had an internal budget that was $15 to $20 million below the NHL’s salary cap ceiling. During most of that time, that budget capacity was off limits and something that could be used as an advantage. The potential to gain an advantage over the league seemed to build mostly just prior to the ownership transition when the signed key players Jaccob Slavin, Brett Pesce and Teuvo Teravainen to contracts below market rates. Though Sebastian Aho’s contract was maybe not as favorable especially with its front-loaded structure, the average salary was reasonable at $8.5 million.   Growing into the cap ceiling At the point when Tom Dundon bought the team, there was untapped potential to leverage favorable financials to gain an advantage on the rest of the league. And for as frugal as Dundon has been with the AHL, staff and even broadcasters, he has opened his wallet to spend on player personnel. A small but striking example of how things have changed was when the Hurricanes took on Patrick Marleau’s contract to buy him out basically paying cash to buy a first-round draft pick from the Maple Leafs. Along the way the Hurricanes have meandered their way up into the range of most of the NHL teams that are cap-constrained mostly on a yearly basis. Earlier this week...

A deeper dive on slotting the Carolina Hurricanes’ forward group

After a busy day, my start writing for Thursday’s Daily Cup of Joe was too late to do anything substantive on the draft. I will get to that in the days ahead. If anyone has comments or wants to discuss anything about the draft, feel free to also do that in the comments today.   Well-timed with news from the deadline to qualify restricted free agents on Wednesday, today’s Daily Cup of Joe works on building out the bottom of the Hurricanes forward group including depth. I am on record as saying that the single biggest difference-maker that the Hurricanes could add would be an offensive catalyst in the form of a second line center. Such a player would be in place of Vincent Trocheck. Second to that, the Hurricanes could use another finisher at wing though must be careful with salary cap budget for that slot. But as of right now, I group the Hurricanes forwards as follows:   Bona fide first or second line — Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen, Andrei Svechnikov Whether playing together on a top-heavy first line or split among the top two lines, this trio is a great starting point of young, capable offensive players.   Need to play and importantly produce at second line level to fit — Vincent Trocheck, Ryan Dzingel, Nino Niederreiter, Martin Necas Below the big three are three players who ideally need to be a big part of the solution to being two lines deep offensively. In his defense, Vincent Trocheck had an odd start as a Hurricane with two short stints separated by a four-month layoff. He had...

Carolina Hurricanes financials for 2020-21 and 2021-22

On Tuesday night with the #13 selection in the 2020 NHL Draft the Hurricanes drafted forward Seth Jarvis from the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League. Jarvis is a bit undersized but rates high for playmaking, creativity and hockey smarts. My intent is to cover the Canes drafted players after the draft concludes on Wednesday.   A recurring theme during the off-season in considering lineup changes has been the fact that the Hurricanes have a bit of salary cap budget flexibility for 2020-21 but need to be careful overcommitting for 2021-22 when Andrei Svechnikov needs to be re-signed. I touched on some of the upcoming contract specifics in an article on September 22 entitled, “Money matters.”  Today’s Daily Cup of Joe looks at the Carolina Hurricanes salary situation in more detail for 2020-21 and 2021-22.   2020-21 Carolina Hurricanes salary cap situation For 2020-21, the previous roster is mostly already signed with a bit of room to possibly add another player or two. The team has 11 forwards under contract with Warren Foegele as a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. Foegele’s 30-point season will garner a raise from his entry-level contract, but should be modest. On defense, the Hurricanes have six defensemen under contract counting Jake Bean and have Haydn Fleury as a restricted free agent with arbitration rights for a seventh. With a season spent mostly in a third pairing role with a modest point total, Fleury’s raise should be modest like Foegele’s. Finally, in net the Hurricanes have Petr Mrazek, James Reimer and Alex Nedeljkovic all under contract. Estimating Warren Foegele and Haydn Fleury at...

Why Steven Stamkos to the Hurricanes makes sense

See also today’s Daily Cup of Joe article today covers the draft and front part of the off-season (free agents and trades) more generally HERE. After writing a broader article about the draft and front part of the off-season including player additions, a quick check of hockey Twitter now officially on the day of the 2020 NHL Draft yielded this… A big reason for moving 💵 is to be able to sign those young RFAs. Notably absent from untouchable list is captain Steven Stamkos. That doesn’t guarantee Stamkos will be dealt but it’s within realm of possibility though his health could obviously be a factor. — Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) October 6, 2020   Targeting the single greatest single slot for potential gain I am on record as not just saying, “Yes! Yes! Yes!” to every big name that hits the market. I have already hard passed on Patrik Laine and almost by default on the ever popular “look shiny things” deals that consider trading out of an incredible contract and core player in Brett Pesce to do a sideways deal to add a comparable level forward. But I am also on record as saying that the single biggest area for a difference-making trade for the Hurricanes is to add a bona fide catalyst/scoring C2. The Hurricanes finally have a legitimate first scoring line really need a second line to have the depth and balance to beat good teams in the playoffs especially in road games where the opponent dictates match ups. Evidence suggests that Don Waddell knows this and has the same focus. The tried Necas as a center...

Carolina Hurricanes odds for the 2020 NHL Draft and front part of the off-season

In addition to the broader article on the draft and beginning of the NHL trade/free agent off-season, see also my article detailing why Steven Stamkos to the Carolina Hurricanes could surprisingly make sense for both teams.   So to put things into a normal NHL schedule, tomorrow and Wednesday are about the third weekend in June when the NHL Draft normally occurs. Then Friday is July 1 when free agency opens. In a normal off-season, that July 1 free agency kick off would put training camps out just over two months and the start of the regular season just over three months away. So if that schedule holds that would mean training camps in December and the start of the regular season early in the new year. But when exactly NHL hockey returns is a big unknown right now which makes the next couple weeks of regular NHL news even more exciting. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe tries to put odds to different possibilities for the draft, trade activity surrounding the draft and the front part of free agency.   The Hurricanes select Russian goalie Yaroslav Askarov with the #13 selection in the 2020 NHL Draft – 10% Aside from a couple players slated to go in the first few picks, probably the player with the most buzz right now is goalie Yaroslav Askarov. A few months ago, he was projected to be picked right around where the Hurricanes pick at #13, but his stock seems to have risen such that the odds of getting him at #13 have seemingly decreased. There are enough teams ahead of the Hurricanes...

The floor is open…Who are your targets? What are your priorities?

After a variety of articles consider different possible trade and/or free agent additions to improve the 2020-21 Carolina Hurricanes, today’s Daily Cup of Joe opens the floor for you to play Don Waddell for a day.   1) For goalie, would you try to make an upgrade or just go with some combination of Mrazek, Reimer and Nedeljkovic? If you would try to upgrade, who would you target?   2) If you could add only one player from the many who could at least theoretically be available, who would you target?   3) Which Canes player is most likely to be traded before the start of the 2020-21 season?   4) Who is the most likely outside addition before the start of the 2020-21 season?   Go...

Picking targets for off-season acquisitions (Part 1 of …probably 2)

With the uncertainty right now in terms of financials and even format (which will also impact financials) for the 2020-21 NHL season, the off-season is likely to be more drawn out than a typical summer event that sees a flurry of trade activity around the draft, a flurry of free agent signings about a week later and then not nearly as much activity after that. But regardless of pace, I would expect things to kick off to some degree next week with the 2020 NHL Draft even though it will lack the usual easy mingling that comes with an in-person draft. Leading up to that, today’s Daily Cup of Joe follows articles from all angles on possible additions with a shorter list of targets.   Goalies I am on record as saying that the Hurricanes would be fine bringing back Petr Mrazek and James Reimer. I also am not a big fan of a long-term maximum salary deal for a goalie over 30 years old. Further, per my article yesterday, I do not see the goalie position as one where sizable gains are really available. So standing pat is definitely an option. But all that said, I am intrigued by the possibility of adding a goalie with potential upside if the cost is modest and the commitment is short-term, and here is why… In recent history, the Hurricanes have a good track record for goalies coming off of ‘meh’ or worse seasons and playing well with the Hurricanes. Mrazek was a reclamation project when he arrived. Reimer was coming off a down season. And maybe to a lesser degree,...
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