Try out forwards rising up most so far? — Phi Di Giuseppe and Riley Nash

Try out forwards rising up most so far? — Phi Di Giuseppe and Riley Nash

In this recent post, I wrote about the ongoing try out that would happen over the remainder of the 2015-16 to help Canes GM Ron Francis assess what he had heading into the summer and what he needed to add to build a roster for the 2016-17 season.    The blue line The picture f0r 2016-17 is fairly clear and reasonably set on the blue line in terms of who with only some work to do sorting out pairings. Justin Faulk, Ron Hainsey, James Wisniewski, Jaccob Slavin, Brett Pesce and Noah Hanifin are under contract for the 2016-17. That makes 6 who would figure to be the opening game starting lineup if healthy. Ryan Murphy is also a restricted free agent and Haydn Fleury moves up and enters the potential mix this summer. Michal Jordan is an unrestricted free agent who has been a serviceable third pairing defenseman of late and Trevor Carrick is the highest rated AHL defenseman who has yet to get a look at the NHL level. When you net it out on the blue line, the group is mostly set and there is even young depth below that. Francis could go shopping for a veteran depth defenseman to fill a #7 slot at the NHL level, but he could just as easily go with what he has and be fine.   Goalie Ron Francis will need to add a goalie to go with Eddie Lack who is already under contract for next season. I think Francis’ choice for his second goalie will prove to be the most important move that he makes this summer. It...
Is Riley Nash a late bloomer on the cusp of bigger things?

Is Riley Nash a late bloomer on the cusp of bigger things?

In his return after a multi-game layoff due to a shoulder injury, I thought Riley Nash was the Canes best player in Saturday’s 5-2 loss to San Jose. He scored a goal on an individual effort that was equal parts heady and creative hockey, skilled skating and just being opportunistic. More significantly, he seemed to jump start his line which also included Kris Versteeg and Jeff Skinner. Despite not scoring, I think one could make a very strong case that it was Jeff Skinner’s best game of the season. He was buzzing around, finding the puck and just being dangerous like he does when he is playing well and scoring. Nash had a very direct part in that using his skating to free up some pucks on the forecheck, turnovers and whatever else. It was a long time ago, but this is the trio that saw Jeff Skinner notch 2 real goals and another in a 3-on-3 exhibition in the Canes third exhibition game. One game is obviously not enough to draw a trend line that shows Riley Nash having a break out season, but I think a look much farther back suggests it is possible. Now 26 years old, Nash’s development has been gradual but consistent. He did not play his first AHL game until he was 21 years old after 3 years at Cornell. Nash made decent strides but put up modest scoring totals in 2 seasons in the AHL. He had 32 points in 79 games in 2010-11 and then 20 points in 58 games in 2011-12. His scoring picked up in 2012-13 (37 points in...