I have an abundance of excitement but a very short window to write, so let me take a shot at Brett Pesce’s recall now and then do Brock McGinn separately either later tonight or maybe for DCOJ for tomorrow.
Since the morning after James Wisniewski went down for the season (or the vast majority of it at least), I have been chirping that I would recall Brett Pesce and give him a go in that slot. After a tough time of it trying Michal Jordan in that slot on his off side, I got my wish today.
So I am obviously a fan of today’s move to recall him.
I just think it makes sense across so many levels:
1) First and foremost, based on his preseason, I think it is possible (not certain) that he is ready. He was really the last man standing (along with Hanifin) in the “keep playing increasingly harder games and see if you can do it without looking like you are in over your head.” Haydn Fleury looked good early, and then had the Tavares game. Slavin won rave reviews and then had the Ovechkin/Caps game that saw him start alongside Justin Faulk only to be pulled off that pairing 8 minutes into the game after a real rough start. Carrick had his troubles and the “old guard” of older prospects was gone in early cuts. To be clear, this is not a knock on the other prospects, but rather a normal stage in their development. But I do think it is noteworthy that Brett Pesce never had that game. His most impressive run of hockey in preseason was actually playing in Wisniewski’s slot next to Liles when Wiz was out with the minor injury. Against the Pens, Pesce looked sound and solid early in the game and then even dialed it up a notch in terms of carrying the puck as the game wore on.
Am I sure that he is ready based on 1-2 preseason games? No. But I have not yet seen anything that suggests he is not ready.
2) Importantly, I trust Ron Francis. I fully believe that if it gets to the point where Pesce is hurting his development by playing at the NHL level, that Francis will do the right thing and send him back to Charlotte. The decision to try Pesce in a slot that he looked good in is not a permanent decision. Francis knows this, and I trust that he is smart enough to evaluate this on a game by game basis. You basically tell him that this is a reward and a test. If it does not work, you cut it off early and use it as a positive way to help figure out what he needs to work on in Charlotte.
The key is for Francis to evaluate Pesce’s call up, role and development on a game-by-game basis and make decisions based primarily on his long-term development. If he does that, which I think he will, the downside to this move is minimal if anything.
3) I actually think of all of the Canes young defenders that he proved to be the most NHL-ready, and that includes consideration of Noah Hanifin. To be clear, I am not saying that Noah Hanifin is not also ready. And to be clear, I am not saying that Pesce’s long-term upside is greater than Hanifin’s. I just think that Pesce’s game was by far the tightest of the young players in terms of making simple, efficient plays. When you couple that with very impressive poise when plan A did not work, I think you have the recipe for a young player who can step in a little bit above his readiness level but handle it. Most impressive to me was his game versus the Pens when he started with a real simple game, regularly made smart decisions to choose small mistakes over potentially big ones and then got comfortable and started doing more with the puck as the game wore on.
4) The fact that he is a right shot fits too. I would not at all be a fan of taking someone like Jaccob Slavin or Trevor Carrick (both left D) even if they did rate above Pesce and putting them in a challenging NHL role for the first time and at the same time putting them on their off side.
It will be interesting to see who skates with whom tomorrow at practice. I will be very surprised if Pesce does not draw into the lineup for at least 1 of this weekend’s games. If the Canes just wanted someone for the press box, the recall would have been one of the “old guard” (Lowe, Biega, Rissanen). I have to believe that Pesce is being recalled to play. Best guess is that Pesce will go right into Wisniewski’s slot like I originally called for, but there is also a chance that he slots next to Hanifin.
Regardless, you can guess what my number 1 “what I’m watching” will be for Friday if I am correct that Pesce jumps straight into the lineup.