AFTER POSTING THIS, IT WAS ANNOUNCED THAT JAMES WISNIEWSKI TORE HIS ACL AND WOULD BE OUT APPROXIMATELY 6 MONTHS. WELL WISHES GO OUT TO JAMES.
I guess that means we can officially skip past the “short-term” in the original post.
I am mostly away for the weekend and that also means mostly away from the internet, Twitter, etc. for a youth group trip. I am not in charge of picking the weekend obviously. 🙂
James Wisniewski was scheduled for an MRI at 1pm today, but as of about 3pm, I have not heard any prognosis, so I am going to take a shot at how I would backfill the spot in an either/or fashion.
Regardless of if the injury is short-term or long-term, I think the basic first step of inserting Michal Jordan into the lineup makes sense. He earned that number 7 slot and maybe better. In his last preseason game, he filled in next to Justin Faulk on the first pair and looked at least decent in the process. So he has earned the right to play, and with Peters and Francis ‘earned ice time’ mantra, I think it would send a bad message to bypass him.
But going forward could be different…
If Wisniewski’s injury is short-term, I think Jordan keeps the spot so long as he performs in that role. In the meantime, you call up 1 of the “old guard” prospects (Keegan Lowe, Danny Biega, Rasmus Rissanen) to serve as a #7 in the press box. Regardless of pecking order for the future or ranking for right now, it does not make any sense to pull 1 of the younger prospects (Pesce, Slavin, Carrick, etc.) up if they are only going to sit in the press box. These players are much better served playing 20+ minutes every night for the Checkers. So if Wisniewski is out only a couple weeks or less with a sprain (fingers crossed), it is fairly simple.
But in the event of a longer-term opening, I think I go a different direction. I would get Jordan some ice time and see how that goes, but I would also be pretty eager to take another look at Brett Pesce. He is a right shot like Wisniewski, and he looked very good in his last NHL preseason game against very much an NHL opponent. Even better, he played that game in that exact slot next to Liles. The sample size is too small to really project anything, but the way I think of it is that we have not yet seen a game that showed Brett Pesce could not handle this. Until I see that, I am not convinced that he cannot. In addition to quality play in a small sample size, I think there are 2 other reasons to suggest that this just might work. He consistently plays a simple game getting pucks off his stick and forward quickly when he can, playing a pretty sound positional game, etc. That simple style of play translates well to stepping up the NHL and not being a train wreck while adjusting and figuring it all out. The other thing that impressed me about his preseason was his poise with the puck under duress. When plan A did not pan out, he had a Glen Wesley-ish calm and patience about him whereby he had a good tendency to make small mistakes (eating a puck on the boards, wrapping it back around to his partner, chipping it forward for the non-catastrophic version of a turnover, etc.) This also translates well to playing at the NHL level a little bit before truly ready.
The key for an experiment like this would be to keep it small and controlled until you figure out what you have. If he has ‘that game’ in his first NHL start, maybe you cut it short and get him back to Charlotte. If it goes well, you still need to be careful to monitor it on a game-by-game basis.
Shorter version: In game action (scrimmages, preseason games) Brett Pesce showed me nothing that suggested he could not handle the NHL yet. In fact, he had 1 game that suggested he could. If Wisniewski is out long-term, I would take a longer look at this possiblity.
The other possibility is that Ron Francis makes a trade or free agent signing to add veteran depth on the cheap. My hunch is that he will explore internal options first before going that route maybe a couple weeks out.
What say you Canes fans? Am I completely crazy to consider doing sink or swim with Brett Pesce based on a couple good preseason outings? Will Michal Jordan pick up where he left off in the game next to Faulk and provided quality help? Or…?