In case you missed it, on Sunday I put up a similar midseason grades article for the forwards to offer something else to talk about after the Hurricanes 7-1 loss in Boston on Saturday.
The Monday Coffee Shop will offer a couple other polls first, but then jump into another set of grades and polls for the Hurricanes defensemen. We will follow up either tomorrow or possibly on Thursday for the goalies and coaching staff.
Carolina Hurricanes polls
Please remember to click ‘vote’ after each poll response.
Carolina Hurricanes 2017-18 mid-season grades
Klas Dahlbeck — B+. Important to note is that grading Dahlbeck highly as a depth defenseman (#6/#7) is not the same as saying that he is as good as or better than players higher on the depth chart. But given his role as a #6/#7, Dahlbeck has generally been very good. He has multiple times been out of the lineup for a week or more but been able to jump in and be a serviceable defenseman, and he also had a short stint next to Faulk that was also solid.
Justin Faulk — C+. Of the top four defenseman, I think Faulk has struggled the most defensively. By my estimation, he just has too many defensive break downs and/or plays where he is out of position or a step slow. Further, though shot totals and other evidence suggests that he could be ready to break out, Faulk’s offensive production has fallen significantly. His three goals in 41 games projects to 11 fewer than the 17 he had in 2016-17.
Noah Hanifin — B. Noah Hanifin is a case where grading different subjects might be more appropriate. On the positive side, the offensive side of Hanifin’s game has grown by leaps and bounds in 2017-18. He is currently on pace for a huge 14 goals and 42 points and is the team’s best offensive defenseman right now. On the negative side, Hanifin fell out of the top 4, and his defensive game continues to be a work in progress. Worth noting is that part of the reason he has stayed in the bottom pairing has been how well he has played there. I go back and forth on B (not truly a top 4 yet) or B+ (but playing better defensively with somewhat less responsibility). Regardless of grade, I like the trajectory of Hanifin’s game right now.
Haydn Fleury — B. Fleury’s grade is dependent on whether one wants to grade him as a rookie NHL defenseman or just as a top 4. By no means has Fleury been flawless, but a big positive is that he does not look to be in over his head in terms of physical ability or handling NHL speed and pressure. He does have room to improve in terms of consistency, and he has yet to establish much offensively, but Fleury’s start has been a good one.
Brett Pesce — A-. Pesce continues to be the epitome of solid without being flashy. I think Pesce has been the Hurricanes most consistent and dependable defenseman halfway through the season. Even during his pairings rough patch, his game was pretty clean and consistent. Somewhat similar to his regular partner Slavin, a bit more offense would be a plus. Pesce has no goals and nine assists for a modest 18-point pace, but like his partner, this is partly a function of not being part of the power play. All in all, Pesce has been solid defensively in a first pairing role that regularly sees the NHL’s elite scorers.
Jaccob Slavin — B+. Slavin had a stretch of A early in the season and a few games of similar more recently. But to go with the highs, Slavin has also had more rough patches in 2017-18 as compared to 2016-17. In addition, the offensive part of his game that seemed to be emerging late in the 2016-17 season has not carried over into the 2017-18 season. Slavin’s 22-point pace is not bad when adjusted for the fact that he has not been a regular part of the power play, but Slavin’s ceiling could include using his skating ability to generate more offense.
Trevor van Riemsdyk — A-. Graded as a third pairing defenseman, van Riemsdyk has earned an A or an A- in my book. I would rate him second only to Pesce in terms of consistency and solid play over the full 41-game slate thus far. He also deserves credit for providing a stable situation for Fleury to get his feet under him as an NHL rookie and also for Hanifin to find a rhythm and break out offensively. Following a familiar theme for all but Hanifin, van Riemsdyk’s 16-point scoring pace is underwhelming, but I would gladly take another 41 games of van Riemsdyk just continuing on the same path for the rest of the 2017-18 season.
What say you Caniacs?
1) Which grade(s) do you most disagree with?
2) Are there any players who seem incorrectly graded comparably to another?