Renewing the search for a playmaking top 6 center; Does the answer lie within?

Renewing the search for a playmaking top 6 center; Does the answer lie within?

An important starting point is noting that this post is NOT some kind of evaluation of the Hurricanes start nor is it a knee-jerk reaction to the tough outing offensively on Tuesday. Rather, it is part of an ongoing process to consider all options to make the team better and also continue a project that Ron Francis was working on over the summer.   The quick history During the post-season press conference in early April, Francis spoke about improving the team and specifically mentioned adding scoring help. The general expectation and hope was that Francis would add a playmaking center capable of fueling a scoring line that complemented Jordan Staal’s first or second line which leaned defense. With Matt Duchene clearly on the market and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Alex Galchenyuk also likely available, the options seemed to be there. But probably for the right reasons nothing materialized in terms of adding an offense-leaning centerman. Instead, Francis added Justin Williams as his headline and higher-budget addition and went the route of adding another defense-leaning center in Marcus Kruger. At a basic level, the team improved at the forward position. But the interrelated questions still looming are whether the improvements are enough and also whether the potential still exists to make a meaningful improvement by adding one more offensively-leaning player.   A VERY early glimpse at the 2017-18 team but IMPORTANTLY with historical perspective Making any kind of rash judgement on the 2017-18 Carolina Hurricanes is premature. And identifying problems that have great urgency to them based on two games seems bizarre given that the team is 1-0-1. But trying to...
Calling It Now: 10 Premonitions for the 2017-18 Carolina Hurricanes Season by Cory Fogg

Calling It Now: 10 Premonitions for the 2017-18 Carolina Hurricanes Season by Cory Fogg

Matt’s quick introduction: This week we will introduce the 2017-18 writing team at Canes and Coffee with a short series of articles that takes a look into the crystal ball and/or previews the 2017-18 Carolina Hurricanes season. Up first is Cory Fogg who I am thrilled to have back for a second season at Canes and Coffee. Cory’s writing will run the gamut, but his specialty is writing feature articles that go in depth on a particular topic. Welcome back Cory!   As we count down to opening night, we all have our thoughts on what’s going to happen. Really the only givens over the past nine years have been that ‘we won’t make the playoffs’ and the opener is better known as “The Game with the Most Hurricanes Fans in Attendance All Season’. Many Caniacs, myself included, believe that this season is the first year in that span with a real chance of getting out of Rebuilding Mode and into Playoff Mode. My roommate and I, both half season-ticket holders, always enjoy going through the season playing Nostradamus over what’s going to happen next. The phrase “Calling it now” is often heard in our domain, usually followed by some ridiculous premonition that we’re only saying so that we can have ‘In-House Hockey Genius’ bragging rights. Or just the sound of hot air expanding in our heads.  In any case, with the Hurricanes season now here, I thought it would be fun to channel my inner hockey clairvoyant for all of you. Because, obviously, the more people who know, the higher the ego boost if I’m right. So without...
Is Janne Kuokkanen the next Sebastian Aho?

Is Janne Kuokkanen the next Sebastian Aho?

Monday wrapped up my series of articles on the Hurricanes prospect pool. There is much to be optimistic and excited about, but perhaps the player rising most rapidly right now is Janne Kuokkanen. At the risk of overhyping Kuokkanen, today’s Daily Cup of Joe takes a look at the parallels between Kuokkanen’s development thus far and the path taken by fellow Fin Sebastian Aho.   Sebastian Aho With the 35th draft pick in the 2015 NHL draft, the Carolina Hurricanes selected Sebastian Aho. He was a bit off the board in terms of the mean draft rankings and also a bit of an unknown being a European prospect. In fact, the first step in the process of welcoming Aho into the Hurricanes prospect pool was clarifying that the Sebastian Aho in question was the forward from Finland and not the defenseman from Sweden. When the Hurricanes passed on a handful of bigger names, bigger players in terms of size and more well-known players from North America, there was a mini-uproar on Twitter from many of the June draft experts who had Aho nowhere to be found at least this early in the mock drafts. Aho first arrived in Raleigh for the 2015 Carolina Hurricanes prospect camp. He had a strong week but not really anything that screamed “super star…and very soon.” While some were still transitioning from whoever it was they thought Francis should have selected instead of Aho at #35, I rated his play at prospect camp top of the class in this article that was one of Canes and Coffee’s first on our July 29, 2015 official...
My Puck: A Story of the Carolina Hurricanes New Identity

My Puck: A Story of the Carolina Hurricanes New Identity

Matt’s editorial note: With the buzz and optimism around Canes hockey this summer, Cory could not help but return from his summer break way early. There are no guarantees in professional sports (Canes fans know that too well lately), but I hope you share his optimism and energy. I do.   A storm is coming. Can you feel it? Disclaimer: Author is 100% allowed to use cheesy clichés in his ridiculous excitement for the coming of hockey season The Carolina Hurricanes have had one of the best offseasons in recent memory this summer. The problem is, the offseason means nothing and we all are just bouncing in our seats in anticipation of seeing if the 2017-18 Canes can deliver on the ice. But seeing as that’s two months off, let’s just keep distracting ourselves with the bright situation, shall we?   Yay, Our First Real Post-Cup Identity! Let’s embrace the fact that, for the first time in years, the Carolina Hurricanes have an identity. For years, it seemed like the team had none, or at the very least, was something like “They Whom Are Beholden to Family Staal.” (There are worse identities.)  The truth as we’ve all come to painfully know, is that we coasted on our Cup win for about 8 years. As names like Brind’Amour, Whitney, Cole, and Williams disappeared, so did the identity. For years it was just sitting there hoping Eric Staal and Cam Ward could turn it back to their Cup days and bring us a taste of the playoffs. Then for several more years, it was the painful process of rebuild, a gigantic...
Sebastian Aho: 2016-17 Carolina Hurricanes report card

Sebastian Aho: 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. Sebastian Aho’s starting point for the 2016-17 season Sebastian Aho entered the 2016-17 season with high expectations based on his whirlwind 2015-16 season. First Aho starred on a line with 2016 NHL lottery picks Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi for Team Finland at the 2016 World Junior Championships. The line was an offensive juggernaut and led Finland to a gold medal. Aho later stepped up and held his own playing against NHLers in the world championships in the spring. In between, he had a solid season playing professionally in Finland. By the time summer came, Aho had made a strong claim to be ready for the NHL in 2016-17 despite having yet to play a professional game in North America. Aho played on Finland’s team for the World Cup, arrived in Raleigh in time for about a week of training camp and then quickly launched into his NHL career. At the same time, he was both a rising star yet completely unproven.   Sebastian Aho’s 2016-17 season with the Carolina Hurricanes Even before training camp started, Coach Bill Peters settled on a line, at least to start, that paired Sebastian Aho with countryman Teuvo Teravainen and Elias Lindholm. The young line would start the season as the Hurricanes’ third line behind Skinner/Rask Stempniak and Jordan Staal’s line that featured a mix of wings. Sebastian Aho settled in fairly quickly and looking reasonably comfortable with the NHL game right out of the gate. Despite being...