Brett Pesce: 2016-17 Carolina Hurricanes report card

Brett Pesce: 2016-17 Carolina Hurricanes report card

For anyone catching up, a menu of previous player (and also coaching and GM) report cards can be found at the bottom of the article. Brett Pesce’s starting point for the 2016-17 season During a 2015-16 season that saw a transformation of the Carolina Hurricanes’ blue line to a younger group, Brett Pesce was actually first on the scene. He had a strong preseason and looked surprisingly calm and capable despite making a big jump from NCAA to NHL (preseason anyway) hockey. He and Jaccob Slavin were a couple of the last cuts, and he headed off to Charlotte to continue his development in the AHL. That changed quickly when veteran second pairing, right shot defenseman James Wisniewski was felled by a a season-ending knee injury in his first shift in a Hurricanes uniform. The Hurricanes tried a couple other options first. And Francis did not follow my initial call to at least give Pesce a look in the hole previously filled by Wisniewski on the right side of the team’s second defense pairing but did recall Pesce soon thereafter which prompted me to write this optimistic article on the eve of Brett Pesce’s NHL debut. And from the category of ‘every once in awhile even a blind squirrel finds a nut,’ it actually worked. John-Michael Liles proved to be an incredibly good fit and an even better mentor and partner while Pesce worked to adapt and bring his game to a much higher level. Initially, Liles did a tremendous job of playing a cautious game with the puck on his stick and being careful not to put Pesce...
Sunday Canes Chronicle: The Jaccob Slavin/Brett Pesce edition

Sunday Canes Chronicle: The Jaccob Slavin/Brett Pesce edition

There are other candidates including Cam Ward’s resurgence in net, Jeff Skinner leading the way offensively and Sebastian Aho hopping straight into the NHL without missing a beat. But thus far in 2016-17, my favorite Carolina Hurricanes story line is the emergence of Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce as a legitimate top defense pairing comprised of a couple 22-year olds in their second seasons in the NHL. This week’s Sunday Canes Chronicle features articles about Brett Pesce and Jaccob Slavin both past and present.   Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce on the ice Chris Miracle at Fansided’s Cardiac Cane offers this assessment of Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce’s strengths that have enabled them to excel at the NHL level. On November 3, Matt Barlowe at Fansided’s Cardiac Cane called Brett Pesce the Canes’ best defenseman at that point and offered statistics to back it up. Shortly after the duo was united in mid-October, I offered this early evaluation of their play together on October 24. Cory Lavalette at the North State Journal profiles the Hurricanes league-leading penalty kill which features Slavin/Pesce in a key role.   Brett Pesce and Jaccob Slavin – The early days As part of my ‘7D in 7 days’ series on the Canes blue line, I offered this detailed article on Brett Pesce in early November of 2015 after his initial run of games at the NHL level. Similarly, in late November of 2015 with first impressions at the NHL level in hand, I asked if Jaccob Slavin was the “greatest harbinger of the Hurricanes future.”   Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce off the ice...
Growing up together: Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce

Growing up together: Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce

When required to put forward his opening face-off lineup first, the go-to for Coach Bill Peters is usually to ice Jordan Staal’s checking line along with the top defense pairing basically either chasing the other team’s best line off the ice for the first 45 seconds or forcing them to play against the Canes best. On Saturday, the Staal line started as did the sophomore pairing of Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce. Pairings and pecking order are subject to change multiple times over the course of a long NHL season, but I think it is fair to call the Slavin/Pesce pairing the team’s best right now. Veterans Justin Faulk and Ron Hainsey started slow and have since been reunited. I detailed Faulk’s struggles in the first 2 games HERE. And Ron Hainsey was too often in the middle of the mess detailed in my game recap for the loss to the Flyers on Saturday.   The 2 sides of Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce Defense Brett Pesce and Jaccob Slavin are the Hurricanes 2 best blue liners right now in terms of that all-important ‘defense’ part of being a defenseman. Through 5 games, I think Brett Pesce is the team’s best at defending in his own end and the volume of small but important decisions each shift in terms of positioning and decision-making. He is light years ahead of anything reasonable in terms of being sound in his own end. And I would rate Jaccob Slavin as the team’s best in terms of defending off the rush. His ability to take away space in the neutral zone and step up...
7 D in 7 Days: Brett Pesce – Ahead of schedule

7 D in 7 Days: Brett Pesce – Ahead of schedule

Sometime after James Wisniewski was felled by a season-ending knee injury, I was accused (rightfully I guess) of having a man crush on Brett Pesce. Before his NHL debut, I had already: Raved about his play in a top 4 slot in preseason game #5 against a mostly NHL Pens lineup in this post on October 1. In an eerie foreshadowing of things to come, I actually gave Pesce the Wisniewksi slot in the event of an opening there (Wisniewski was out with minor injury at the time) when I said: He was easily the story of the game for me.  I said on Twitter that if the Canes had to play a regular season game tomorrow and James Wisniewski was still out injured, I would seriously consider just going with Liles/Pesce again.  Vaulted him up to #2 overall amongst the young Canes defense prospects behind only Noah Hanifin in this October 9 post. In that post I said: I think you could make a decent argument that out of the entire bunch in this post, he would be the safest/soundest player to drop into the lineup if you had a single must-win game. He is still very early in his NHL tenure, but I think that statement still holds true. Started into full rant mode in this post aiming to give Brett Pesce a shot in Wisniewski’s slot on October 9 a few hours before it was officially announced that Wisniewski would be out long-term. In that post I reasoned: The sample size is too small to really project anything, but the way I think of it is...