Chronological Blog List

Canes catch up: Jeff Skinner, Chuck Kaiton, Klas Dahlbeck and Saku Maenalanen

Despite it being a slow part of the offseason with the playoffs still ongoing, recent days have offered a decent collection of Canes hockey news which is the subject of today’s Daily Cup of Joe.   1) Klas Dahlbeck is headed to the KHL Canes' Don Waddell confirms Klas Dahlbeck has gone to the KHL. — Chip Alexander (@ice_chip) May 22, 2018 Initially just filling the role of an expansion draft shield for Justin Faulk, Klas Dahlbeck had a solid 2017-18 in a limited role as a #7 defenseman. Multiple times he was capable of stepping into the lineup after long layoffs and not looking out of place or rusty. That said, I could have gone either way on bringing him back to fill a similarly limited role versus just letting him go to free up the roster slow. The move creates the possibility that the Hurricanes add an inexpensive, experienced #7 defenseman to keep the youth out of the press box.   2) Jeff Skinner continues his extended turn in the trade rumor mill Bob McKenzie on Jeff Skinner: “The feeling is he will almost certainly be traded.” Full quote from the Bobcast: pic.twitter.com/PHOKZFHne8 — Platinum Seat Ghosts (@3rdPeriodSuits) May 17, 2018 The Carolina Hurricanes have a number things to be sorted out on the player/roster front this summer, but a decision and action on Jeff Skinner’s long-term future with the team will likely be the new GM by committee’s biggest decision this summer. Because of the wide difference between ceiling and floor for what Skinner might be in the right or wrong situation, the resolution of this...

Five Carolina Hurricanes’ hockey opinion quick hitters — Jeff Skinner, Noah Hanifin, Aho/Teravainen and more

Today’s Daily Cup of Joe takes a minute to offer up a batch of Canes hockey opinion quick hitters. (Not in any particular order)   1) I think the fan base is greatly overestimating the probability that the team will trade the #2 draft pick and the chance to draft Andrei Svechnikov.  Every year, the same thing happens. Teams with the top few picks say that they would consider trading their high pick for the right deal. The right deal is something crazily exorbitant. As such, while their might be some maneuvering with mid-late first round picks, the top few picks are never moved. In addition, talking about draft trades is fun, so it is significantly overblown in the media. I feel like our fan base thinks this is a 50/50 chance. I think the reality is more like 99/1 that the Canes keep and use the #2 draft pick.   2) I think the Hurricanes fan base underestimates how sizable the gap was between high-end “scorer” and high-end “player” as relates to Jeff Skinner’s 2017-18 season and therefore prospects for the future. Yes yes…The team needs scoring, and even in a down season, Jeff Skinner notched 24 goals to finish second on the team for the 2017-18 season. But as his scoring stalled a bit and he regressed in terms of risk/reward decision-making and attention to detail without the puck, he became a minus player in terms of winning hockey games. The team could replace the 2017-18 version of Skinner with a reasonably sound 18 goal scorer and be better off. The question is whether Skinner can both...

Do the answers lie within? Part 2B: Seeking gains from returning players (forwards)

Today’s Daily Cup of Joe is part 2B of what became a three-part series that suggests that the path higher in the standings and up into the playoffs could very well be hiding within the current roster. Part one took a somewhat painful look backward into a 2017-18 season that on average did not see the team improve from the 2016-17 campaign.  Part 2A considered a possibilities at goalie and on the blue line for the team to improve from within as young players continue to grow and veterans who slipped in 2017-18 look to rebound. Today’s part 2B considers forwards currently on the roster who could have more to give in 2018-19.   Forwards Jeff Skinner Arguably at the top of the list whose production was down in 2017-18 but rise and be a gain in 2018-19 is Jeff Skinner. Skinner surged late to reach 37 goals in 2016-17 but then fell to 24 goals in 2017-18. At a basic level, the Hurricanes 24th ranked offense would benefit from a rebound and his 2016-17 goal total. But the Holy Grail would be if Skinner found chemistry with a pair of line mates and could boost not just his production but that of an entire line. The questions with Jeff Skinner run the gamut. Could the coaching change be all he needs to reach a higher level? Would he benefit from better line mates, or is he just an independent offensive entity? Would higher scoring actually help his defensive play like in 2016-17 because he presses less to score? Or is he destined to be a good up and down offensive...

Do the answers lie within? Part 2A: Seeking gains from returning players (goalies and defensemen)

Today’s Daily Cup of Joe is part two of a two-part series that suggests that the path higher in the standings and up into the playoffs could very well be hiding within the current roster. Part one took a somewhat painful look backward into a 2017-18 season that on average did not see the team improve from the 2016-17 campaign. Today’s part two considers a long list of possibilities for the team to improve from within as young players continue to grow and veterans who slipped in 2017-18 look to rebound. Simply because my Thursday ran out of time before I got to this, I will do it as part 2A for goalies and defensemen and part 2B (hopefully for Monday) for the forwards.   Goalie Scott Darling Assuming he is not traded or bought out (which is the party line from team management so far), Scott Darling arguably represents the greatest potential for a single player to improve and pull the entire team forward with him. Despite struggling, Bill Peters and the team committed about as long as it could hitching the team to Darling in 2017-18. It was not until December that the Canes started to shift to Ward as the starter. As such, Darling started about half of the team’s games and was largely a liability in doing so. But here’s the thing…Darling is not a young goalie who has yet to prove he could play well at the NHL level. Though the sample size is somewhat limited, Darling did prove that he is capable of playing well at the NHL level. My fear is that the...

Do the answers lie within? Part 1: Assessing the 2017-18 Hurricanes roster in brief

Yesterday’s Daily Cup of Joe had both ‘reasons to keep’ and ‘reasons to trade seven core players from the Carolina Hurricanes 2017-18 roster.  I do think a change or two to the core could be a key ingredient to improving for the 2018-19 season, and I also think that a key addition or two possibly from the trades would help the process.   Gauging improvement from 2016-17 to 2017-18 But I also think that there are enough players with more to give on the current roster such that a significant amount of improvement is possible from the existing roster. As much as some (including myself) want to focus on the exciting possibilities like trades and additions, a quick player by player assessment of the 2017-18 roster shows why the Hurricanes did not make the playoffs. The young group in most cases did not improve from 2016-17. I have good intentions of doing more in-depth player by player assessments for the 2017-18 season but below is the bullet point version of it.   The blue line I think Jaccob Slavin took a small step backwards. He had a stretch of lesser play in the middle of the season, was a weak link on the penalty kill and did not make any gains offensively. Brett Pesce had a comparable season but has yet to find a higher gear offensively. To be clear, both players had decent 2017-18 campaigns and fit nicely in the plan going forward, but I would not say that they were significantly better in 2017-18. Noah Hanifin made strides offensively but has yet to elevate his defensive play such...

Carolina Hurricanes trade winds blowing

It is no secret that the Carolina Hurricanes will aim to make changes to a 2017-18 roster that was not good enough to make the playoffs. Tom Dundon said as much at the end of the season. And that direction simply makes sense given the need to improve and hopefully find a combination of changes that also help generate a winning culture. So the concept of the Hurricanes making most of the roster potentially available for the right price is not outlandish. But today when TSN’s Bob McKenzie put a spin on the situation that made it seem aggressive and borderline fire sale, the Twitter part of the Hurricanes hockey universe reacted. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe grabs the bull by the horns and identifies reasons to keep and reasons to trade not just depth players but rather a handful of players who would represent more significant deals.   Goalie Scott Darling With three years of contract at $4.1 million per season and coming off a really tough 2018-19 campaign, Scott Darling has negative trade value. As such, any deal would require that the Hurricanes retain salary and likely still pay in trade assets to unload Darling. Reasons to keep: The cost to unload him is likely just to high right now. Keeping Darling for at least the 2018-19 season helps in two ways. First and ideal would be if he rebounded under Brind’Amour’s coaching regime, he could suddenly be worth at least most of his salary. With all of Anton Khudobin, Eddie Lack and to some degree Cam Ward struggling under Peters, there is at least a possibility...

Burning questions for the Carolina Hurricanes for the offseason

With the 2018 NHL Playoffs now a couple games deep into the Conference Finals, the offseason is rapidly approaching. On the path to the offseason frenzy which starts in earnest in June, the Hurricanes have already been busy rebuilding its front office, firing and replacing the head coach, winning the #2 overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft and even making a trade already. With a new owner, a significant change in management and another playoff miss in the rear view mirror, the team has many questions that must be answered this summer hopefully on the path to finally making a return to the playoffs for the 2018-19 season. I preface my list of questions by saying that I think the Hurricanes will need to improve primarily from the existing roster reaching a higher level or true player trades that see the team give up a player of value to obtain one back. I think those who think the team can keep what it has and somehow add 2-3 significant players without subtraction are misguided. As such, my list of ‘burning questions’ is heavy on trying to locate potential improvement from the current roster and the prospect pool. With that, here is a sizable list of burning questions to be addressed this summer:   1) Which, if any, top half of the roster players depart and for what in return? The one thing that seems inevitable is change. I will be most surprised if the Hurricanes just forge forward through the summer and return to the ice in September with mostly the same group. The burning question is who...

Canes catch up and discussion points – Martin Necas, Jeff Skinner, James van Riemsdyk and Alex Nedeljkovic

Friday’s Daily Cup of Joe laid out a detailed case for where Victor Rask could theoretically fit into the 2018-19 lineup. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe offers a collection of thoughts on individual players similar to the Rask article but briefer.   Martin Necas More than any other player other than perhaps Jordan Staal who is many years established at the position, I see Martin Necas as a center. That includes over Sebastian Aho for whom I have a slight preference to play him at center but also think that he brings nearly as much playing as a wing. Based primarily on my assessment of Necas during game action in prospect camp, Traverse City and preseason, I do not think the current version of Necas’ skill set translates nearly as well to a shift to wing. He is at his best skating into the teeth of the defense with the puck on his stick, and his playmaking ability is significantly more advanced than his finishing ability at this point in his career. As such, I think he either makes the Hurricanes as a center next season or otherwise starts at the center position in the AHL.   James van Riemsdyk I am leery of what his next contract could be and might ultimately prefer to pass if term and price get out of hand for a 29-year old player who has high-end finishing capability but also gaps in his game. But if the Hurricanes did add him, I think he is a great fit to boost the Aho/Teravainen combination to the next level. Van Riemsdyk brings size and finishing...

The case and possible place for Victor Rask

I touched on this topic recently but wanted to go into it in more depth. Hence, today’s Daily Cup of Joe considers the case and place for Victor Rask.   Acknowledging the offensive struggles of the 2017-18 season A starting point is acknowledging that the 2017-18 season in total was not a good one for Victor Rask. He had too many stretches of invisible, and his meager 31 points in 71 games as a top 9 forward just do not cut it especially considering his $4 million salary. So the aim of this article is not to defend Victor Rask’s 2017-18 season in total.   But also recognizing Rask’s ‘high floor’ But for as much as Rask struggled to produce offensively, the defensive part of Rask’s game which is not exciting but is generally sound functions independently of his offensive game. The result is that even when his offensive production was spiraling downward, it did not creep into other areas of his game with gambling to score more or just playing with defensive issues that stemmed from struggles on the offensive side of the puck. The result was that despite underperforming offensively, Rask’s line still held its own 5-on-5. Over 71 games of not enough offense, Rask was still even in terms of plus/minus which ranks only behind the dynamic duo of Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen who were the only plus forwards (not counting short-timers Zykov and Foegele). When you net it out, even the struggling version of Rask’s game tends to tread water because of decent two-way play that seems to be unaffected by his offense.  ...

In Rod We Trust

Today at high noon, Rod Brind’Amour was officially introduced as the new head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes in a press conference alongside owner Tom Dundon and now official general manager Don Waddell. The press conference is well worth the investment of your time to gain a little bit of insight into Rod Brind’Amour as a head coach on his first full day officially on the job but more significantly to feel the positive vibe emanating out from the media room at PNC Arena. Especially for those who are negative or on the fence on this move, I encourage you to watch the press conference and suck in some of the positive energy. As a Canes hockey fan, you deserve it. I originally called for Rod Brind’Amour to be named interim coach on March 14 after one of many debilitating losses during the 2017-18 season. To be clear, my intent at that time was simply to make a statement, put a stake in the ground and move forward. One has to wonder if not for the financial situation that ultimately enabled Dundon to see Peters to the door without risking paying him for next season if in fact he would have been on in mid-March. More recently on April 25, I posted a reasonably balanced set of pros and cons on the potential for Rod Brind’Amour to be the next head coach. And yesterday after the announcement that Brind’Amour had been named head coach, I penned some additional notes on the situation. To be clear, I stand by my original preference for a coach with more head coach experience, and...

Rod Brind’Amour named head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes

  One of the challenges of running a daily hockey site in my free time is the seemingly uncanny ability for big events to happen when they do not fit with other obligations. For the paid media, they just shift whatever else they are doing around because it is part of their job. Hence the delay covering today’s big news. I mostly covered the topic in my article addressing the pros and cons of Brind’Amour as an option on April 25. But Rod Brind’Amour officially named as the head coach, let me add a bit to my thoughts from a couple weeks ago.   He is the right type of player to be a good head coach The NHL like pretty much every other sport is littered with stories of great players who were not even remotely successful at coaching. Playing and coaching are two completely different skill sets despite being within the same profession. As such, it is a risky move to put a player with no head coaching experience or success at any level in a head coaching role at the NHL level. No doubt, there is a chance that this move fails. But risk noted, I do think that because of the type of player that Rod Brind’Amour was that he is the right kind of player to succeed as a coach. His strength as a player was not raw skill. His strengths were his work ethic and effort and also his leadership. Those traits, especially the latter, translate well to coaching. The work ethic thing is tricky because even if Brind’Amour leads well, it just...

Interesting proxy/measure for the Carolina Hurricanes’ top-end scoring talent as compared to the league

In my hockey travels today, I happened upon an article by Pete Jensen at NHL.com with a fantasy hockey slant and an early top 100 ranking for forwards for the 2018-19 season. Pete’s stuff is generally good read if you are fantasy hockey inclined and interesting in many cases even if you are not. In this case, I found the article interesting in terms of measuring distribution of true first line scoring talent by team. Since fantasy hockey is largely focused on scoring, fantasy hockey rankings are a decent even if not perfect proxy for scoring. To be clear, that is not to say that a scoring-focused fantasy hockey slant correctly measures a players’ overall value, but it is decent for a back of the envelope measure of raw offensive fire power.   Where Hurricanes players land The Hurricanes did not place a single player in the top 50 and placed only Sebastian Aho at #62 and Teuvo Teravainen at #76 in the top 100. Jeff Skinner was only in the ‘just missed’ category. First, I think it is fair to debate whether the Hurricanes were short-changed. Because of his short but impressive track record and room for upside, I would rate Aho higher than 62. And even coming off of bit of a down season, I would have Skinner in the top 100 of an offense-only ranking. But nonetheless, the rankings do represent one view of how the Hurricanes top players stack up offensively across the league.   How the Hurricanes stack up against other teams At an average level, it breaks out like this… The NHL has...

Canes catch up: Andrei Svechnikov, the Charlotte Checkers and Sebastian Aho

Today’s version of Daily Cup of Joe offers an eclectic mix of Carolina Hurricanes thoughts that have piled up without making it into another article.   Andrei Svechnikov and the potential to trade the #2 overall pick In some circles, I think too much is being made about the Hurricanes’ potential to either bypass Andrei Svechnikov or just trade the pick altogether. Who the Hurricanes like at #2 will not be revealed until draft day, but my checks from people who scout draft-eligible players leans heavily in favor of Svechnikov. If the experts are that overwhelmingly in favor of Svechnikov, I do not see the Hurricanes getting cute with this pick. In addition, I think the rumblings and rumors that will only intensify that say the Hurricanes will consider trading the #2 overall pick are overblown. Every team says this yet, these high picks are rarely actually traded simply because the asking price is exorbitant. I will be surprised if the Hurricanes are any different. The desperately needs another elite or at least near-elite forward to boost their scoring. Andrei Svechnikov offers a high probability of finding this in the form of an 18-year old player. Do we really think the team is going to trade that draft pick to add a #5/#6-ish forward who is 5-8 years older and already playing on an expensive contract? My 2 cents on the odds: Odds that the Hurricanes draft #2 and take someone other than Svechnikov=> 10 percent. Odds that the Hurricanes trade the #2 overall pick=> 2 percent.   The Charlotte Checkers are off to a good start in the...

Time to go in a different direction with the fourth line

On Thursday, the Carolina Hurricanes announced that the team had traded Marcus Kruger and a third-round draft pick to the Arizona Coyotes for Jordan Martinook and a fourth-round pick. I offered my thoughts on that trade HERE. With the move, both Josh Jooris and Marcus Kruger who were added only 10 months ago to solidify the fourth line are both gone. Jordan Martinook adds another young veteran player to compete for a depth forward slot along with Joakim Nordstrom and Phil Di Giuseppe if both are re-signed. But more so than a new round of veteran checking line forwards filling out the bottom of the lineup, the move could pave the way for a transition to stocking the fourth line with young players who are scoring-capable and in the process working toward a more balanced lineup. In a new NHL where teams no longer carry skating-lite enforcers, good teams with depth are moving quickly in this direction. Last season, when a Columbus fourth line with Scott Hartnell and Sam Gagner started scoring, Coach John Tortorella opted to leave the line intact and create lineup balance and match up challenges for opponents. The move flew in the face of old school NHL tactics that saw producing fourth-liners quickly promoted to a higher line. A key strength of the Vegas Knights is their depth and the fact that their fourth line is pretty close to on par with the team’s higher lines. And one can bet that the trend will continue. The Hurricanes may not be quite where they need to be in terms of forward depth for the 2018-19 season,...

Hurricanes trade Marcus Kruger to Coyotes for Jordan Martinook

Today, the Carolina Hurricanes announced that the team had traded center Marcus Kruger to the Arizona Coyotes for depth wing/center Jordan Martinook. As part of the deal, the Hurricanes retained 10 percent of Kruger’s salary, and the teams swapped draft picks with the Hurricanes giving up a third-round draft pick and receiving a fourth-round pick in return.   Closing the book on last summer’s strategy to build an experienced fourth line The trade closes the door on an ill-fated attempt to build a solid, veteran fourth line that could play behind Jordan Staal’s line and solidify things defensively. The strategy failed on multiple fronts. Somewhat as expected, the line primarily comprised of Joakim Nordstrom and additions Josh Jooris and Marcus Kruger scored virtually nothing. But more significantly, the line did not excel in areas that figured to be its strength. The Hurricanes penalty kill took a significant step backward with Kruger in a leading role, and the line was fair, not great as an even strength shutdown unit. When one nets it out, the line was light on scoring even for a fourth line. The players also led to a step down for the penalty kill. After waiting it out for a long time, the original plan was finally jettisoned when Josh Jooris was traded at the trade deadline and Marcus Kruger was demoted to the AHL. In his short stint with the Hurricanes, Marcus Kruger scored only a single goal on an odd forechecking deflection that found the net and five assists for a total of six points in 48 games. To his credit, he was a class...
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