Continuing with this week’s theme of building the 2017-18 blue line, the Thursday Coffee Shop will attempt to build the all-important top 4.
If you missed it and want to catch up, the focus of the Monday Coffee shop polls/discussion aimed at building the third pairing and filling the #7 defense slot for the 2017-18 season.
Since then, the report cards for the defenseman who played at least part of the 2016-17 season in a top 4 role have been posted. Here are clickable links for those articles – Noah Hanifin, Ron Hainsey, Justin Faulk, Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce. I continued my harsh grading for the blue line awarding only the the duo of Jacob Slavin and Brett Pesce A’s. Noah Hanfin and Justin Faulk who figure to be in the mix for top 4 earned modest B- grades, and everyone else received a C. In short, though the future of the blue line looks incredibly promising and strides have been made in that direction, I think the ‘right now’ reality is that below Slavin/Pesce, the group was ‘meh’ or worse in 2016-17 but has the potential to be much better in 2017-18.
With that, today’s polls and discussion questions take on the task of building out the top 4 to gain that improvement.
Carolina Hurricanes polls
Please remember to click ‘vote’ after each individual poll response.
As a starting point, as of writing this article 61 percent of readers had Noah Hanifin confidently inked into the top 4. Here are the results and/or a chance to vote if you have not already followed by other questions on the top 4.
To keep the choices from being infinite, I started from the assumption that Slavin, Pesce and Faulk were sure things in the top 4 and also with the assumption that the combinations would be natural L/R matches. Those are reasonably probable but not certain, so feel free to use other if you think something a bit more eccentric will emerge.
Carolina Hurricanes discussion
1) If you are in the camp that would at least consider adding a veteran #4/#5 defenseman, what is your maximum budget for this addition? Would you consider two years term on the contract or only one? Who do you like either via regular trade, expansion draft-related trade or free agency to fill this slot?
2) Somewhat related, based on how well he rose to the challenge in about 25 games after the Ron Hainsey trade, what are your thoughts on Noah Hanifin’s readiness for the next step in his development and/or a bigger role?
3) After what I rated as a choppy 2016-17 season defensively for Justin Faulk, what do you expect from him in 2017-18? And if you agree with my assessment of his 2016-17 season, what do you see as the cause? And what do you think it takes for him to play at a higher level defensively in 2017-18?