Chronological Blog List

Building the 2021-22 Carolina Hurricanes roster – Goalies

After the kick-off of free agency for the NHL on Wednesday, I covered the team’s decision to sign defenseman Tony DeAngelo. That remains the single biggest signing in the sense that it has the potential to do irreparable damage the the team’s reputation and its hockey community. Today’s follow up on Wednesday’s flurry of activity is a bit lighter, taking a look at what the Hurricanes did with the goalie position. The Hurricanes’ goalie maneuvering started with a bang with a surprise trade of Alex Nedeljkovic to Detroit for a very modest return of a third-round draft pick and negotiating rights to Jonathan Bernier. Management expressed a preference for going with two veteran netminders in what it called a ‘win now’ mode. I am not 100 percent convinced on Nedeljkovic either after a strong but short 23-game run in 2020-21, but at the same time, I would have given Nedeljkovic a bit more runway. Young, top-tier goalies are such a rarity, that I think better is to at least roll the dice. Worst case, if he struggles in 2021-22, the team could have added help at the trade deadline and moved on next summer. But that was water under the bridge by the time free agency opened. In general, I think the team’s strategy is to have two capable veteran goalies at moderate 1A/1B salaries. Petr Mrazek and Jonathan Bernier could have been options, and the team said that it was negotiating with both, but I think the team viewed them as just two options on a list that maybe had up to 5-6 possibilities in an off-season that...

Carolina Hurricanes sign Tony DeAngelo

Wednesday’s opening of free agency created a multitude of Canes hockey news. When the dust settled, the departed included Dougie Hamilton, Brock McGinn, Petr Mrazek, James Reimer, Warren Foegele, Cedric Paquette and prospect Roland McKeown. Jordan Martinook was the only unrestricted free agent from the 2020-21 season to be re-signed. The new arrivals included Frederik Andersen, Antti Raanta, Ethan Bear, Ian Cole, Josh Leivo and most notably Tony DeAngelo. That makes for a whopping 14 players either coming or going on a single day and seemingly a ton of different things to debate/discuss in terms of building the 2021-22 lineup. But by far and away the news over the past two days has been initially rumors that the Hurricanes were considering signing Tony DeAngelo and then the resolution that saw that come true. I will not detail all of the transgressions here, but DeAngelo’s rap sheet includes using racial slurs as a junior player in addition to a couple suspensions for berating/accosting referees and most recently getting into an altercation with a teammate. The end result was DeAngelo being suspended and ultimately bought out by the Rangers who were already his third team after two others had moved on. He was six games in a two-year $9.6 million (total) contract when the Rangers decided to move on. There are so many possible angles to the Hurricanes decision to sign Tony DeAngelo to a one-year ‘prove it’ contract for $1 million, but as is often the case with messy situations like this, I think the simplest and most direct angles are usually the ones that rule the day.   Signing...

NHL free agency begins with Canes having multiple key spots to fill

At least on social media, the swirling fires on NHL free agency eve had to do with reports that the Hurricanes could make offers to Tony DeAngelo and Jake Virtanen, both of whom come loaded with issues. I voted ‘no’ on Tony DeAngelo on Twitter but will save any detailed thoughts on either player for if something actually happens.   Dougie Hamilton The other biggest news is that lack of news on the Dougie Hamilton front. It looks like he will officially become an unrestricted free agent on Wednesday. I do not have any inside scoop on his situation, but my best guess is that the does have an offer or two that are from teams that need to lead with a bunch of money to get attention. New Jersey and Montreal both make sense, but there could be any number of other bidders. I think the lack of anything definitive today could suggest that Hamilton still has a preference to re-sign with the Hurricanes but that the gap in the offers is too big. Especially with Waddell’s comments a couple days earlier that the two sides seemed to still be negotiating, it seems reasonable that the quiet could be Hamilton giving his agent time to try to get more from the Hurricanes before making a difficult choice. I am on record as saying that the mostly likely time for Hamilton to sign with the Hurricanes would have been over the weekend, so I am not overly optimistic at this point. Per more detailed thoughts awhile back, I am mostly okay with letting Hamilton depart if it takes a...

Hurricanes trade Alex Nedeljkovic to Detroit for 3rd round draft pick and negotiating rights to Jonathan Bernier

Not wasting anytime once the NHL markets reopened after the expansion draft, on Thursday not too long after the 1pm reopen, the Hurricanes traded goalie Alex Nedeljkovic to the Detroit Red Wings for a third round draft pick and negotiating rights to Jonathan Bernier. Bernier is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent next week, so he represents not so much the return of a player but rather a few days head start in negotiations if he and the Canes are a good match for both. The move was maybe not as surprising as some might think. The challenge with Nedeljkovic is that though he was scheduled to become a restricted free agent, he had arbitration rights. With strong results in an impressive even if small sample 2021-22 season, the upside comparable from his side was goin to be Jordan Binnington who received a two-year contract for $4.4 million after his Cam Ward-like rookie season that ended with a Stanley Cup win. Who knows how close Nedeljkovic could would have been to that ceiling, but with the unpredictability of arbitration the potential was there.   The decision At the end of the day, I think it really came down to a single question  — How much faith would they put in Alex Nedeljkovic based on 23 starts in a strong rookie seasonhow much risk were they willing to take? Yes. Nedeljkovic was good in a small sample size, but I just do not think the team’s brain trust viewed him as a ‘the guy’ type of goalie and rightfully so considers him to be a bit riskier than a...

Seattle Kraken expansion draft day

The day is here. Today former Hurricanes player, captain and General Manager Ron Francis will build an NHL team from scratch. Most interesting to me will be seeing how creative Francis is with a plethora of options to do some combination of building a team for 2021-22, collecting futures and leveraging a unique position. My gut feeling is that he will not be creative enough with some interesting options, but I am ready to be proven wrong. Even more so than the Vegas draft, I think there are good opportunities to acquire some players with the intent of trading some of them later. Per previous comments, I think most interesting is the possibility to maybe draft a higher-end player or two who are overpriced a bit, discount them down to a better salary and then collect a good return on them. From a Hurricanes standpoint, there continues to be a buzz around Dougie Hamilton. I am on record as believing it makes no sense to spend a selection on a player who could instead be signed as a free agent one week later. Given that the Hurricanes granted Hamilton the chance to talk to other teams, there is nothing to keep Seattle from hammering out a deal and signing it next week after selecting another Hurricanes player on Wednesday. One angle that could make sense is that by selecting Hamilton Seattle makes him feel more loved which is what makes him want to join the new team. Another angle is that by selecting him, Seattle would gain the ability to sign Hamilton to an eight-year deal whereas the maximum...

Searching for diamonds in the rough — Part 1 of 2

The discussion/comments for yesterday’s Daily Cup of Joe on the expansion draft ‘breezy’ brought up the possibility of trading Jake Gardiner for Buffalo’s Rasmus Ristolainen. The comment reminded me again of something I have kicked around a few times but have yet to dedicate an entire article to which is the possibility of finding underrated diamonds in the rough if you will on struggling teams. The Hurricanes have made quick progress in the Tom Dundon era with Rod Brind’Amour at the coaching help pushing into the playoffs in three consecutive years. And at least during the regular season, the team was in the upper echelon of the NHL in 2020-21. But the last step remaining to make a run at the Stanley Cup is the most challenging one. The team is now pushing up against the salary cap with young players scheduled to be re-signed for a higher cost which adds pressure in terms of time and also budget. No doubt Seth Jones would make the Hurricanes, or any team, better. But trying to win bidding wars for clearly high-end players is difficult and fraught with the peril of the winner’s curse. And even if the Hurricanes could win a big bidding war for a high-end free agent or trade option, it would be really difficult to make the salary cap math work. Somehow the team needs to find a way to make improvements at something less than market value. Enter today’s Daily Cup of Joe — Trying to find diamonds in the rough from downtrodden teams who with a change of scenery could find a higher gear. As...

The Seattle Kraken expansion draft from a Hurricanes’ perspective – round 2

On Sunday, the protected lists were officially announced for the Seattle Kraken expansion draft which will take place on Wednesday, July 21. The Hurricanes list looked mostly as expected with one minor surprise choosing to protect both Warren Foegele and Jesper Fast and in the process leave Nino Niederreiter unprotected. On defense, the Hurricanes chose to protect Brady Skjei and leave Jake Bean unprotected as I wrote about in Friday’s first article about the expansion draft.  And in goal, the Hurricanes protected Alex Nedeljkovic as expected. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe considers the team’s choices and ponders the likely outcome.   Why not protect Nino Niederreiter? The one minor surprise makes sense in my book. Yes, Niederreiter slots higher than Warren Foegele and Jesper Fast and was more productive on the score sheet in 2020-21, with the Hurricanes now a cap team, it is not about salary. It is about salary related to role. In that regard, the question is whether Niederreiter is worth $5.25 million or if that money could be better redeployed. On the one hand, his 20 goals in 56 games makes for a solid finisher with a 29-goal pace over 82 games. On the other hand, Niederreiter is a bit one-dimensional and has been inconsistent. Also behind the headline numbers but significant is considering where the Hurricanes are in their development as a team. With three straight playoff berths and a finish near the top of the standings in 2020-21, the team has reached a level of success and now faces the challenge of charting a course to a next level in the playoffs. In...

Handicapping the expansion draft for the Carolina Hurricanes

With the abbreviated lull following the Stanley Cup playoffs and preceding the true start of the oddly-timed off-season nearing its end, first up on the schedule is the expansion draft to build the Seattle Kraken roster. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe looks at it from the Hurricanes standpoint. The starting point is that Martin Necas and the team’s non-NHL prospects are exempt. Past that the team can protect either seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie or instead eight skaters total and a goalie. The team is also required to make a minimum number of players available at each position. Let’s look at it by position.   Goalie The Hurricanes can protect one goalie and must also make one available. Alex Nedeljkovic, whether re-signed or not by that time, will be the protected goalie. And newly-acquired Dylan Wells was seemingly acquired very specifically to meet the requirement of exposing one goalie either under contract or a restricted free agent. The other option would have been qualifying Jeremy Helvig who figures not to be qualified now. Whether it is Petr Mrazek or someone else, the Hurricanes will add their second NHL goalie after the smoke clears from the expansion draft.   Forwards The obvious names on the protected list will include Sebastian Aho, Jordan Staal, Teuvo Teravainen, Andrei Svechnikov and Vincent Trocheck. Martin Necas does not need to be protected nor does Brock McGinn or Jordan Martinook since both are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents. Note also that the need to protect those five forwards eliminates the possibility of instead going with eight skaters to protect another defenseman. So...

Random thoughts on keep/replace for Canes unrestricted free agents

The past week or so of Daily Cup of Joe has stepped through the list of seven Canes players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents this off-season and considered individually whether each should be re-signed or replaced and under what terms contractually. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe offers a set of random thoughts on that same topic. The starting point for all of these decisions is recognizing that the Hurricanes need to make moves to improve this off-season but will be somewhat limited budget-wise in doing so. The starting is also (in my opinion) that the team needs to bet on the current core for the most part, so aside from hopefully making gains from young players just continuing to grow, the transaction-driven improvements will need to come from lesser-cost players who mostly fit into the middle or bottom of the lineup. With that starting point, here are some thoughts that impact my keep or replace decisions for the list of unrestricted free agents.   Dougie Hamilton With Dougie Hamilton the burning question is what are you going to do to improve or even break even if you let him go? That is a tough question. The Hurricanes do not have the extra top 4-capable depth that the team had a few years ago, so letting Hamilton go requires back filling his slot with at least one other top 4 defenseman. With a thin market for such players in free agency this year, that is a challenging proposition. Don Waddell has been very adept at adding top 4 defensemen via trade. Hamilton himself arrived that way. The team was...

Big off-season for next contracts for restricted free agents — Andrei Svechnikov and Alex Nedeljkovic

Check out also The Coffee Shop where you vote in polls to decide what the Canes do with the team’s unrestricted free agents. Vote/see results HERE.   Yesterday’s Daily Cup of Joe finished up a series considering the seven 2020-21 Carolina Hurricanes who are scheduled to become free agents this off-season. No doubt there are important decisions to be made there with Dougie Hamilton looming largest. But Waddell’s summer work does not stop there with a couple high-profile restricted free agent deals also to be negotiated. And that is the subject of today’s Daily Cup of Joe.   Andrei Svechnikov The biggest, at least dollar-wise, should be Andrei Svechnikov’s next deal. The burning question is term and salary. Svechnikov entered the 2020-21 season as a rising star with the potential to push up into the rarified air of a contract in the range of $8-10 million per year. But putting it bluntly, Svechnikov had a disappointing 2020-21 season in terms of taking a big step forward. To be clear, his upside and long-term trajectory are still intact. He still possesses the same skill set that figures to have him score 80-100 points in his prime with the potential to reach 40 goals. And he is still the same coachable kid who has the work ethic and humbleness that makes it possible for coaches and others to help him reach his potential. And he still very much fits in the team’s long-term plans and goals to take next steps in the playoffs. But all that said, his 2020-21 season was underwhelming. After scoring at a 74-point pace for 82 games...

The Coffee Shop: Which unrestricted free agents to re-sign?

Yesterday’s Daily Cup of Joe on the goalie position completed a series of articles considering what to do with seven Hurricanes players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents. The Coffee Shop puts those same choices in front of you in the form of a couple polls. Feel free to also comment below.   Please click ‘vote’ for each individual poll.   Which pending unrestricted free agents would you re-sign? (Select as many as you wish.) Jani Hakanpaa Dougie Hamilton Jordan Martinook Brock McGinn Petr Mrazek Cedric Paquette James Reimer None of the above View Results  Loading ...   Which best describes your thoughts in terms of making changes for 2021-22? Make very few. The team is good; patience is in order. Middle of the road. The core is in place, but I would selectively try to make upgrades. Be aggressive. No doubt the team has improved, but there is still need for significant changes to reach the next level. View Results  Loading...

Re-sign or replace Petr Mrazek and James Reimer

Today’s Daily Cup of Joe finishes off a series working through the Hurricanes players who will become unrestricted free agents this off-season. If you missed the previous articles, you can find links below. Dougie Hamilton. Jordan Martinook. Brock McGinn. Jani Hakanpaa and Cedric Paquette. Today’s edition finishes off the series with interesting decisions to be made for the goaltending position.   No doubt Alex Nedeljkovic played his way into one of the two slots on the 2021-22 roster. His 15-5-3 mark with a stellar 1.90 goals against average and .932 save percentage put Nedeljkovic on a path to become the team’s #1 for years to come. But filling the other goalie slot is still significant for two reasons. First, it has become the norm for most teams to have two capable netminders with a games split closer to 60/40 than 75/25. Second, for as good as Nedeljkovic was in 2020-21, he is only 27 starts into his NHL career and still with some potential for bumps in the road. So it is possible to both be optimistic that Nedeljkovic continues on his current path but at the same time believe that the team’s decision on its second netminder is an important one and not one for which it makes sense to go low budget without concern for quality.   Petr Mrazek Mrazek’s situation is a curious one. He arrived as a bit of a bounce back/reclamation project on an inexpensive, ‘prove it’ contract before the 2018-19 season. And prove it he did. After some ups and downs early in the season, Mrazek found a rhythm near the midway point...

Re-sign or replace the new guys Jani Hakanpaa and Cedric Paquette

Today’s Daily Cup of Joe continues a series working through the Hurricanes players who will become unrestricted free agents this off-season. First up was Dougie Hamilton. Then Jordan Martinook. Yesterday was Brock McGinn. Today’s edition looks at relative newcomers Jani Hakanpaa and Cedric Paquette.   Jani Hakanpaa Hakanpaa was acquired in a more or less one for one trade for Haydn Fleury. The aim was to to add a right shot for the third pairing and also more of a physical presence to make the Hurricanes a bit tougher to play against. Hakanpaa fit the bill as a safe and steady third pairing defenseman and also consistently banged bodies. In that regard, he met the goal of the trade. But I think the limitation with Hakanpaa is that he is as advertised as a stay-home third pairing defensemen. He had trouble at times in the playoffs when caught on the ice against higher-end lines and could at times be a bit overmatched trying to defend speed off the rush. As such, I do not view him as the type of third pairing defenseman who is well-suited to step into the top 4 for stretches as an injury replacement. But as a third pairing defenseman at an appropriate third pairing defenseman price, I think it makes sense to re-sign Hakanpaa for a depth role. His 2020-21 salary was only $750,000, so there is room to offer him a modest raise and still have a salary that matches his slot and limited upside.   Cedric Paquette In a move that was probably as much about parting ways with Ryan Dzingel, Paquette...

Re-sign or replace Brock McGinn?

Today’s Daily Cup of Joe continues a series of posts considering options for re-signing or letting go the team’s group of players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents this off-season. First up was Dougie Hamilton. Yesterday was Jordan Martinook.   Comparing/contrasting McGinn and Martinook Up next is Brock McGinn. If one starts from an assumption that improving the team requires keeping some but letting some go from the middle/bottom half of the roster players with unrestricted free agents the easiest to move on, I think it is interesting to compare Jordan Martinook and Brock McGinn. Both players are coming off $2 million contracts. Both players have mostly slotted in the bottom half of the forward group but also been bumped up to higher lines when Brind’Amour shuffles the lineup a bit. And both score high marks for their every shift intensity that can be helpful when when the team is flat and needs a lift. But despite the similarities, I see two significant differences. First, I think McGinn brings more in terms of scoring upside and ability to slot even if only intermittently on a scoring line. In 2020-21, McGinn had eight goals in only 37 games for an 18-goal pace over a full 82-game season. The peak was the burst he had catching fire on a lower line and then riding it for awhile longer on Aho’s line. In terms of raw production, I think McGinn brings more. Like Martinook, McGinn is a good locker room presence, but I think the difference, per the post on Martinook, is that McGinn is more of a lead by example foot...

Re-sign or replace Jordan Martinook?

Yesterday’s Daily Cup of Joe started down the road of considering the group of players that the Carolina Hurricanes must either re-sign or replace. First up was Dougie Hamilton who looms as the biggest off-season decision for the Hurricanes and also Hamilton himself. You can find that article HERE. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe considers Jordan Martinook.   Looking backward From day one, Jordan Martinook has been a tremendous addition to the team’s leadership and the local hockey community. He is adored by teammates and fans alike and earned the letter on his jersey from his leadership and role as someone who pulls the team together. In terms of leadership, character, fabric of the team and just being an all-around great person, Jordan Martinook is a good fit for any team. As a player, Martinook burst onto the scene in Raleigh scoring 15 goals including five game-winners in his first season with the Hurricanes in 2018-19. Those career highs won him a two-year extension at $2 million per year. In the two years of that contract, he has scored two goals in 45 games and four games in 44 games in 2019-20 and 2020-21 respectively. His 24-point pace for an 82-game season is a decent pace for mostly fourth-line ice time and now power play minutes.   Looking forward Many things have changed since Martinook’s arrival, but two are maybe most significant in considering whether to re-sign or instead replace him. First, the Hurricanes have seemingly effected the the culture change needed and have become a regular playoff team. That accomplishment which Martinook clearly played a role in has...
Share This