Joakim Nordstrom’s starting point for the 2016-17 season
Joakim Nordstrom arrived just before the start of the 2015-16 in a deal with Kris Versteeg as the more notable part of the deal. After bouncing in and out of the lineup early in the 2015-16 and then from line to line as the season wore on, Nordstrom found a home in early December. With the Hurricanes sputtering mightily and Coach Bill Peters searching daily for working line combinations, he happened up the combination of Joakim Nordstrom, Jordan Staal and Andrej Nestrasil. The trio was the team’s best during a winter surge from early December through late February when the trade deadline and a couple injuries shook up the roster. The Nordstrom/Staal/Nestrasil became Peters’ shutdown combination and especially at home was tasked with lining up shift after shift against the other teams’ scoring line. The line was not lights out offensively, but it gave up so little defensively that it was a net positive and helped build a top 9 from a roster light on forward depth.
Joakim Nordstrom’s 2016-17 season with the Carolina Hurricanes
Andrej Nestrasil was felled by a serious back injury in late February during the 2015-16 season which made his status questionable entering the 2016-17 season. Regardless of Nestrasil’s status, one had to figure that Peters would try to again build a line around Staal likely to include Nordstrom to again be used as a shutdown line.
Nordstrom did play on Staal’s line early in the season, and Nestrasil made it back into the lineup. But the trio was unable to rekindle its magic from 2015-16. Nestrasil found his way out of the lineup and eventually in the AHL. Nordstrom bounced around the lineup a bit and ultimately found his way into the fourth line with Jay McClement and Viktor Stalberg until Stalberg was traded at the trade deadline.
In the end, Nordstrom had a successful season in a more limited role than the previous season. He was a regular on the Hurricanes penalty kill that was tops in the NHL before losing players at the trade deadline and finishing sixth in the league. He chipped in a reasonable 7 goals given his fourth-line line mates, modest 12:43 of ice time and virtually no power play time. His 12 points were a little bit light even for a fourth line forward, but as long as he excels at more important things, Nordstrom is useful as a depth forward.
Grading Joakim Nordstrom
Graded as: Top 9 two-way forward versus graded as a fourth-liner.
Grade: C or B depending on role. Had one hoped that Nordstrom would again be able to hold down a top 9 slot next to Jordan Staal, he came up short early and never made it back to that role. His scoring is also far short of what one would hope from a top 9 forward even if you adjust for ice time and lack of power play ice time. If instead, one pegged him as a fourth line/depth forward from the beginning and grades him accordingly, Nordstrom met the objectives for this lesser role and deserves credit for his part of the team’s 2016-17 success while shorthanded.
Looking forward to 2017-18
As the Hurricanes get deeper at forward and have more options with a higher ceiling scoring-wise, Nordstrom starts to slot about where he did in Chicago which is as a #12 or #13 forward. If not claimed in the expansion draft, Nordstrom’s contract fits in a depth role, and his skating ability, defensive acumen and penalty killing ability make him serviceable in a depth role.
If/where Nordstrom fits in 2017-18 could very well be a function of which direction Peters/Francis go with the fourth line. If the team tries to insert younger players with less experience by higher scoring upside into fourth line roles, Nordstrom could fall to #13 or #14 and become an extra in waiting in case of injury or the need to add more defense and/or veteran presence to solidify things. If instead, Peters wants an element of safe and sound as part of the fourth line, Nordstom would slot similarly to 2016-17.
At least until more youth emerge and seize roster slots, I view Nordstrom as a useful, experienced depth forward for 2017-18.
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