Chronological Blog List

Team toughness after the departure of Micheal Ferland

Today’s Daily Cup of Joe considers the Carolina Hurricanes in terms of team toughness after the departure of Micheal Ferland.   Team toughness minus Micheal Ferland Team toughness in general is a complex topic in today’s NHL. On the one hand, it is no longer a requirement to carry an enforcer, and teams that do carry one who is sub-par in terms of hockey ability drag that is a liability. And I do not buy the argument that having a top-tier enforcer or policeman automatically makes the ice safe anyway. The vast majority of dirty hits in today’s NHL are more spur of the moment things, and in today’s NHL players are not nearly as much required to answer for them anyway. But on the other hand, there is still an element of team toughness that is part of the game. Teams do need to push back when an opponent tries to intimidate them. And in limited instances it can be helpful to have a heavy weight at the top of the food chain who can answer any challenge. And maybe even more significant than extracurricular stuff after the whistle, I think there is very clearly value in having a player or two who makes the ice dangerous for opposing players. We can debate to what degree different roles are necessary and how valuable they are, but what is clear is that in today’s NHL Micheal Ferland filled them all. If necessary, he could make or accept a challenge against anyone in the league. He could be a policeman if necessary when on the ice. And most significantly, his...

What, if anything, is left for building the Carolina Hurricanes 2019-20 roster?

Today’s Daily Cup of Joe builds a bit off of yesterday’s article considering players at the AHL/NHL cut line and also pulls in a few other situations that might or might not see more roster changeover before the start of the 2019-20 season. At a basic level, I think the Hurricanes (signing remaining restricted free agents should be fairly routine) could be set for the start of the 2019-20 season. That is to say that there are no pressing needs that must be met. But at the same time, I think there is still significant potential for the Hurricanes to do another deal or two mostly pruning at the bottom edge of the NHL roster. Situations with potential for action include:   Justin Williams The biggest open item right now is the status of Justin Williams. I am on record as believing that the need/value of another year of his leadership is underrated. With much greater expectations on the 2019-20 Hurricanes after a return to the playoffs and two series wins, I think the team could face a greater level and different type of pressure if it faces adversity from a slow start or downturn. At some point the team will need to transition to younger leadership, but I think one more year of Justin Williams would be a huge positive. It takes pressure off of other players, and it buys more time and tutelage for the younger leaders who could be next. I do not have any inside information on the situation and the team’s comments have been fairly vague, but I think there is a decent chance...

Carolina Hurricanes AHL/NHL depth players: Part 2–Waivers and other complexities

Today’s Daily Cup of Joe is part 2 of 2 looking at the Hurricanes depth that lies on the dividing line between the NHL and AHL. Part 1 made an attempt to categorize the 23 Carolina Hurricanes players who fit roughly in this group. If you missed that article, you can find it HERE. In a simple world, the decision on which players win the last few NHL roster spots would be fair tryout. But the reality is that it does not work that way. First, NHL teams has some incentive to allocate NHL ice time with the aim of developing players, especially those with the potential to be difference-makers. In addition, multiple ‘NHL hockey rules’ can have a significant impact on who stays at the NHL level. One of the challenges of having a good system and successfully developing players is that eventually a team cannot use all of them at the NHL level and because of the NHL rules can be subject to losing some of those players for nothing in those situations. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe looks at some of those complexities that are coming into to play with the Hurricanes increasing depth that does not all fit on the NHL roster.   Quick overview of key NHL rules One-way versus two-way contracts Two-way simply means that a player has a different salary at the AHL versus NHL level. All contracts for prospects that have yet to reach the NHL level are two-way. For example, a player might earn $800,000 at the NHL level and $70,000 at the AHL level. Established NHL players have one-way...

Carolina Hurricanes AHL/NHL depth players: Part 1–Categorizing the players

The long  6-month, 82-game NHL season is a demanding one that invariably requires some stretches of ‘next man up’ when injuries mount and take a toll. Because of that, it is important to have ready depth that spans positions and skill sets available at the AHL level. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe is part 1 of 2 looking at the fringe AHL/NHL players in the Hurricanes system heading into the 2019-20 season. Today’s part 1 looks at the success of this group for 2018-19 and categorizes the players.   Strong contributions from AHL call ups for 2018-19 Carolina Hurricanes The Carolina Hurricanes scored incredibly well in that regard during the 2018-19 season. Warren Foegele won a roster spot in training camp. When Victor Rask lost his battle with a sweet potato, Lucas Wallmark stepped up into an NHL role and never missed a beat. When Martin Necas proved not yet ready for an NHL role, the team rotated through a series of AHL call ups who all held their own. Nicolas Roy and Janne Kuokkanen were competent in short stints before Clark Bishop won the job at least temporarily and hit the ground running as a serviceable NHL forward. Later in the season, Greg McKegg more permanently seized a place in the NHL lineup and was part of the group that pushed up into the the playoffs in the second half of the year. A string of injuries during the playoffs pushed Patrick Brown into the lineup with shorter runs for Aleksi Saarela and Clark Bishop. The ability for multiple players to jump into NHL action without seeming to...

Comparing the current Carolina Hurricanes lineup to the 2018-19 version that pushed into the playoffs

While steering clear of the high risk bidding war range of the market, the Hurricanes have completed a couple rounds of lower profile but still quality transactions to build out most of the 2018-19 roster. With only about $7 million in cap space remaining and Justin Williams (if he returns), Brock McGinn and Haydn Fleury yet to be re-signed, the current version of the Hurricanes could be pretty close to the one that takes the ice on opening night. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe compares the current roster to the team from the second half of the 2018-19 season that pushed up into the playoffs.   In goal Curtis McElhinney is replaced by some combination of James Reimer, Alex Nedeljkovic and possibly Anton Forsberg if needed. I would consider this change to be a wash but would also acknowledge that there is some risk. McElhinney was pretty solid in the second half of the 2018-19 season even when Mrazek was rising up to become the starter. So anything short of solid from Reimer and/or Nedeljkovic would represent a downgrade. Reimer is a proven NHL goalie but is coming off a down season. Nedeljkovic had a stellar 2018-19 season at the AHL level but is unproven at the NHL level. In: James Reimer or Alex Nedeljkovic  //  Out: Curtis McElhinney Net: Breakeven with modest increase in downside risk for second goalie slot.   On defense Calvin de Haan is subtracted and right now likely to be replaced internally with Jake Bean and Haydn Fleury most likely to see additional NHL ice time. Jake Bean is interesting because he has the...

Carolina Hurricanes sign forward Ryan Dzingel for two years at $3.375 million per year

On Friday, the Hurricanes announced that the team had signed forward Ryan Dzingel to a two-year contract for $3.375 million per year. I will add details to my initial thoughts/comments on Twitter from Friday morning.   Good signing in terms of price vs. value vs. risk 1/? Really good signing by #Canes. Price/risk/caliber of player math is incredibly good for proven middle 6 player. #TakeWarning https://t.co/BlHgo9P1mn — Canes and Coffee (@CanesandCoffee) July 12, 2019 At the simplest level, the signing is a solid non-flashy signing. In Ryan Dzingel, the Hurricanes added a proven middle 6 forward who is coming off a strong season with 26 goals and 56 points. A bit like Erik Haula, Dzingel is another capable forward who at a minimum is above the third line replacement level offensively. Also like Haula (if he recovers to 100 percent after leg injury), Dzingel is another player who is a perfect fit for Brind’Amour’s style that emphasizes pace, pressure and forechecking. Dzingel can fly and naturally plays and aggressive style of hockey. He naturally slots at left wing but could also play on the right side if needed. On a financial level, one has to like this deal. He adds another player with two-term and a reasonable $3.4 million that is the going rate for good third-line forwards in today’s NHL. Dzingel offers upside from a third-line salary as evidenced by his 2018-19 offensive production. The two-year term pegs the risk at an absolute minimum. And the lack of any no-trade/no-movement clauses maximizes flexibility going forward.   Another component for building a second scoring line 2/? Ryan Dzingel is...

Carolina Hurricanes free agent signings and ‘deals I would steal’

With the lion’s share of the free agent signings completed, today’s Daily Cup of Joe takes a few minutes to look at how the Hurricanes did with their modest play in free agency and makes a short list of ‘deals I would steal.’   Petr Mrazek The Hurricanes big move was to re-sign Petr Mrazek. That deal was a very good one based on comparables. The Islanders committed four years at $5 million per year to Semyon Varlamov, and the Blackhawks paid $5 million for one year for Robin Lehner. Those were the other two goalies in the same category as Mrazek, so signing Mrazek for two years at only $3.125 million per year was a nice discount in my opinion.   Deals I would steal History shows that the winners of the biggest free agent bidding wars more often than not become the biggest losers later. In a open market bidding situation where there is not enough supply to match the demand, basic economics says that there is a significant risk of overpayment. So in general, I am fine with the Hurricanes mostly sitting out the July 1 frenzy. But every year there are a couple deals that I would gladly steal if given the opportunity. Important to note is that many of these deals would not have been available to the Hurricanes, so this is not to say that the team passed on these opportunities.   Joe Pavelski (3 years at $7 million per year) Pavelski clearly fits as a deal that would never have been available to the Hurricanes. Pavelski only considered a handful of teams...

Carolina Hurricanes quick hitters — Micheal Ferland, Brian Gibbons and Ryan Warsofsky

Today’s Daily Cup of Joe offers a small batch of quick hitters.   Micheal Ferland Micheal Ferland has reportedly signed a four-year deal for $3.5 million per year with the Vancouver Canucks. What started as a gap between the team and Ferland during the winter and seemed to grow as time passed likely made it impossible that Ferland was going to return, but on a simple financial level, the deal is in the neighborhood of something I would have considered. Even considering some injury risk $3.5 million per year is a fair price for a player with a unique skill set and capability of being a good complementary top 6 forward. That $3.5 million yearly salary is increasingly a third line rate, and even on a bad day Ferland is at least that. The tougher question is the risk that comes with the four year term. I would jump at that salary for two years. I would probably still take it at three years. At four years, it becomes a bit tougher and probably something I pass on with some hesitation. I view Ferland as a player who proved capable of being a complementary player with the ability to match pace and finish enough to be a productive scorer. In addition, I think his ability to be a physical disruptor is underrated. Ferland’s combination of skating and brute force makes the ice dangerous for opposing players with the result being players peeking up from the puck and sometimes getting rid of it early. The Hurricanes have not really replaced Ferland’s physical edge and role as ultimate policeman, and I...

Carolina Hurricanes players with wide ranges for the 2019-20 season — Alex Nedeljkovic, Warren Foegele and Andrei Svechnikov

Yesterday’s Daily Cup of Joe had higher or lower than arbitrary consensus for Canes players Haydn Fleury, Lucas Wallmark and Justin Williams. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe looks at a group of players whose range of possibilities are, in my opinion, wide such that whether they land on the high end or low end of those ranges could decide the fate of the Carolina Hurricanes 2019-20 season.   Alex Nedeljkovic Nedeljkovic did all he could do at the AHL level during the 2018-19 season being arguably the Checkers’ best player in the second half of the season and netminding his way to a Calder Cup championship. No doubt, Nedeljkovic is ready for a look at the NHL level. No doubt, he has the pedigree and potential to play a role at the NHL level. But predicting NHL success based on AHL play just does not generally work. There are any number of very good career AHL goalies who just do not have NHL stuff. And there are also goalies who do not seem to project to the NHL level who receive an opportunity, seize it and excel and then never look back. With James Reimer in the picture at least as of now, predicting Nedeljkovic’s impact on the Hurricanes 2019-20 season becomes even murkier. Could Nedeljkovic be one of those rookies like Jordan Binnington who gets a chance and runs with it? Or might he struggle a bit initially and take some time to adjust to the NHL level just like he did the AHL level a couple of years ago?   Warren Foegele His season was an odd...

‘Higher or lower’ on Hurricanes players Haydn Fleury, Lucas Wallmark and Justin Williams

Entering the dog days of the hockey summer where new news is rare, today’s Daily Cup of Joe offers up a short collection of player notes with a higher or lower theme. Though the baseline is arbitrary, the idea is to comment on whether I am higher or lower on certain Canes players or aspects of their game compared to what I perceive the average (hence arbitrary) being. If my memory is correct, there is probably some partially borrowed material on Fleury and Wallmark. Sorry, we are approaching mid-July when some amount of repeats is unavoidable if the goal is daily Canes content and discussions.   Haydn Fleury – Potential for a higher ceiling – Higher I think I am higher on Haydn Fleury than many. My assessment of his 2018-19 season is that he established himself as a competent bottom pairing forward who was light offensively even for that role and really did not bring much for upside past being serviceable. In short, I think that makes him a  #6/#7 defenseman which is not great for a #5 overall draft pick who is now 23 years old. But I think where I am higher on him than most is the potential for upside. As a big kid who skates pretty well, the basic physical tools are there. And only 87 games into his NHL career, I think it is premature to declare that Fleury has for certain reached his ceiling and just is what he is at this point. Finally, even if Fleury does not take another significant step development-wise, his low scoring ways should keep his salary...

Identifying question marks/watch points for (current) Hurricanes roster — Forwards

Today’s Daily Cup of Joe is part 2 of 2 identifying question marks/watch points for the (current) Hurricanes roster. If you missed it on Friday, part 1 covered the goalies and defensemen. Part 2 covers the forwards. The starting point is considering the forward group from the beginning of the 2018-19 season to what the team has now.   Who is in? Who is out? As of now, out are Justin Williams (please come back!), Micheal Ferland, Valentin Zykov and Victor Rask (who started the 2018-19 season on injured reserve). In are Nino Niederreiter who was added midway through the 2018-19 season and also Erik Haula.   Weighing the changes At a simple level, the net is a two for two swap of Williams and Ferland for Niederreiter and Haula. On the surface that might be a modest downgrade in terms of raw production. All four of those players are capable of playing in the top 6 forwards as complementary type players. But bigger picture for the Hurricanes is that the team was a bit light offensively at times during the 2018-19 season, and that was with offensive leaders like Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen and Justin Williams healthy. An injury or two to the wrong players could see the Hurricanes on the wrong side of being able to score enough after climbing in the second half of the season to 16th out of 31 in terms of goal scoring.   My thoughts Personally, I have mixed feelings on the current group. I am on record as preferring that the team add one higher-end offensive catalyst to drive a second...

Identifying question marks/watch points for (current) Hurricanes roster — Goalies and defensemen

After a day off for the Fourth of July holiday, Daily Cup of Joe returns with a short set of notes identifying question marks and watch points for the current Carolina Hurricanes roster. The first part starts with the goalies and the blue line.   The goalie position As detailed in my article on the Petr Mrazek re-signing, I think the Hurricanes are set in net with the possible exception of pruning to get from four goalies to three. To say the team is set is not to say that the position is without risk. Some may forget that Petr Mrazek actually started slow in 2018-19 and that it was actually Curtis McElhinney who carried the crease early in the season. That could be worth watching. Though the Hurricanes did rebound and push up into the playoffs, much preferred would be to start better and require less heroics once the calendar flips to the new year. If James Reimer is traded and Alex Nedeljkovic pushes up into the backup role at the NHL level, he would be another big question mark. My unscientific math says that the hit rate for successful transitions to the NHL level for even good AHLers is probably a 50/50 proposition. Even if Mrazek carries the load, the Hurricanes will still need 20-30 games of decent netminding from the backup. If instead, James Reimer stays, he too is a bit of a question mark as a proven NHLer but coming off a down 2018-19 campaign. Watch points/question marks: How Mrazek starts and the level of play from the NHL backup.   The blue line The...

Below the headlines Canes lose quality AHL/NHL depth on first day of free agency

Rightfully, the headline news from a Carolina Hurricanes standpoint is the re-signing of Petr Mrazek to fill the top of the depth chart in net and the offer sheet signed by Sebastian Aho. My thoughts on the Petr Mrazek re-signing are HERE. And my detailed thoughts on the Sebastian Aho offer sheet are HERE.  Beneath the headlines the Hurricanes took a hit in terms of AHL/NHL depth on the first day of free agency.   Canes lose six depth players to free agency At forward, Charlotte Checkers captain Patrick Brown signed with the Vegas Golden Knights. Charlotte Checkers leading scorer Andrew Poturalski signed with the Anaheim Ducks. Greg McKegg signed with the New York Rangers. Tomas Jurco signed with the Edmonton Oilers. On defense, Daniel Renouf signed with the Colorado Avalanche, and Josiah Didier who was under contract with the Checkers, not the Hurricanes, departed to sign with Providence in the AHL. Coupled with the departure of Charlotte Checkers Head Coach Mike Vellucci, there will be significant changeover in Charlotte. More significantly, the team’s AHL/NHL depth has been depleted, especially at forward.   Is this a red flag? The Mike Vellucci situation is a separate thing which I will not address here, but at a summary level, I would categorize the other departures as mostly normal turnover. The Checkers won the Calder Cup which put these players in the spotlight. And I feel nothing but happy when players whose career has been mostly or all AHL salaries to date leverage a successful season to win better next contracts. So though the impact on the team’s AHL-level depth is a...

Carolina Hurricanes re-sign Petr Mrazek for two years at $3.125 million per season

Even not doing big deals for high-end free agents, the Hurricanes had another big day and continued their run as one of the most active teams in the NHL. First, Sebastian Aho signed an offer sheet. My detailed thoughts on that are HERE. Then the Hurricanes announced that the team had re-signed Petr Mrazek to a two-year deal that pays him $3 million 2019-20 and $3.25 million in 2020-21.   The right deal I mostly wrote my thoughts on this situation in previous articles, so I will share snippets of those and add a few thoughts. If you wish to read it in full, that article from June 20 is HERE. From June 20: So if I am right that the Hurricanes view Mrazek as half of a 1A/1B tandem and prefer short-term to leave a possible opening for Nedeljkovic, that would suggest 2-3 years at a yearly salary salary of $3-4 million. If Mrazek and/or his agent instead think of Mrazek as now being worthy of being a true #1 for an extended period of time, that would suggest 4-5 years and possibly a salary in the $4-5 million range. That is the potential gap right now on the high end. I think this is where the negotiation was all along. Mrazek had a right to explore free agency and at least a chance that another team would commit to more of a pure #1 salary in a $4-5 million range and for 4-5 years, so when the Hurricanes came in on the lower-end of the range, he chose to at least explore that. But Don Waddell has...

Thoughts on the Sebastian Aho offer sheet

Today an NHL rarity occurred, and it involved the Carolina Hurricanes. A few hours into the kick off of NHL free agency, it was announced that the Montreal Canadiens had signed Sebastian Aho to an offer sheet. The headline terms were a five-year deal at $8.454 million per year. But the headline numbers do not tell the whole story. Breakdown of Aho offer sheet: $11.3M SB plus 700k salary in Year 1; $9.87M SB plus 700k salary in Year 2; $6.95 SB plus 750k salary in Year 3; $5.25 SB plus $750k in each of Year 4 and Year 5 — Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) July 1, 2019 The situation is interesting on many levels. Let’s step through at least most of them.   An odd move by the Canadiens By pegging the salary where it is, the Canadiens would have to give up first, second and third round draft picks. Had they gone a bit higher another first round pick would have been added. In that regard, the salary offered looks like a steal for the Canadiens, but that only matters if the Hurricanes do not match it. There are issues with the payment structure (see below), but I would be utterly shocked to see the Hurricanes not match this. So that begs the question of what Montreal was up to. Did they really think that there is a chance that the Hurricanes would decide not to match this fairly modest offer in return for a ‘meh’ set of draft picks? Or did Montreal perhaps just see an easy chance to stick it to another Eastern Conference team? Montreal...
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