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...
Is Jaccob Slavin the greatest harbinger of the Hurricanes future?

Is Jaccob Slavin the greatest harbinger of the Hurricanes future?

In 1 specific way, I say yes.   Important to note Justin Faulk as being in a different category Before going too far down that path, let me first make sure I give credit where it is due. First, my comment is mostly about comparing and contrasting the early and incredibly positive development of the Canes young blue line. I did not include Justin Faulk in this comparison. One could actually based on his young age at 23, but he is farther along development-wise.   And it is not a race or contest for which young D prospect is best It is also important to make sure that we as Canes fans do not get bogged down trying to pick winners and losers. To make the blue line a strength capable of leading the way back to the playoffs, it needs multiple of these players to eventually become great. And each having different strengths and skill sets is fine. It hopefully makes for complementary set of skills among the players.   The other young D have also been really good It is also important to recognize the progress thus far and upside for the other 2 rookie defensemen. Of the 3, I think Brett Pesce is by far the most advanced in terms of NHL readiness especially in terms of defending without the puck. With him now approaching 20 games in the lineup, it is becoming easier to take him for granted at this point and lose track of how incredibly impressive what he is doing is. Of the 3 and despite the strong play of the other 2,...
First impressions of Carolina Hurricanes Jaccob Slavin at the NHL level

First impressions of Carolina Hurricanes Jaccob Slavin at the NHL level

When Jaccob Slavin was recalled from Charlotte, he became the third (behind Noah Hanifin and Brett Pesce) young Hurricanes defenseman to make his NHL debut this season. The future of the Hurricanes blue line looked bright in early June and has seen significant optimism upgrades literally monthly since then. Jaccob Slavin is just the latest in a string of positive stories involving the future of the Carolina Hurricanes defense which is very quickly creeping its way into the present. Only 3 games deep in his NHL career, it is too early to do any detailed evaluations with any kind of finality to them. He is probably just now shaking off the ‘I made it!’ combination of adrenaline rush and butterflies. But in the name of something fun and exciting I wanted to offer first impressions.   With the puck The most striking thing in watching Jaccob Slavin so far is his comfort, confidence and even a bit of swagger playing with the puck on his stick. He already multiple trips deep into the offensive zone carrying the puck past the offensive blue line and harkening back to the days of Joni Pitkanen. Slavin already demonstrates pretty good vision and awareness for when/where there are openings and when there are not. Very common for young skating defensemen just breaking in at the NHL level is to skate into a bunch of dead ends/traps. Slavin seems advanced relative to his nearly non-existent experience level (in terms of NHL or even AHL experience) in his ability to read positioning and openings on the ice. He has also shown a decent knack for using his skating ability to set...
Hurricanes recall Jaccob Slavin – The upshot across multiple levels – #FutureIsNow?

Hurricanes recall Jaccob Slavin – The upshot across multiple levels – #FutureIsNow?

It has been an interesting off day on the Hurricanes blue line. With Ryan Murphy out with a concussion, this morning the Hurricanes announced that they had signed Tim Gleason to a tryout contract. I wrote about that HERE. Then at about dinner time, the Hurricanes announced that they had recalled Jaccob Slavin from Charlotte. Slavin has been playing on Charlotte’s first pairing with Trevor Carrick and playing on his off side. (He is a left shot playing on the right side.) In my Daily Cup of Joe for this morning which you can find HERE, I questioned whether this was out of necessity or part of a broader plan. The short version of Jaccob Slavin’s season so far in Charlotte is that he has adjusted well, is playing heavy minutes in a top role and is leading the team with a plus 6 +/- and 7 assists (tied with Di Giuseppe). I talked about this a bit in the Gleason post earlier today, but there are multiple dimensions to sorting out the Canes blue line right now:   Most basic, but incredibly boring explanation First, I think it is important to note that this could easily turn into a Brett Pesce first call up false alarm. With Murphy injured, the Canes have only 6 healthy defensemen and the Charlotte Checkers are far away in Texas with matching Friday and Sunday games. With the volume of defensemen injuries in Charlotte right now, Slavin is the only healthy right defenseman even close to NHL level right now. So out of necessity, he might just be an emergency extra in the press...