As has become tradition, Saturday’s Carolina Hurricanes Summerfest featured first-round draft pick Andrei Svechnikov signing his entry-level contract in front of the fans. The team announced unofficial attendance of 4,500, and as expected the day and week offered a fun dose of hockey to help trudge through another long offseason.
Note: There is no official scoring, so this is the best I can do from my notes mostly without secondary assists. If someone has corrections or has seen where something more official has been posted, please let me know just link to it in the comments.
Goal 1 Red: Luke Stevens made a pretty pass right through the slot to find Morgan Geekie who made no mistake burying it (Helvig in goal).
Goal 1 White: Camp invitee Mitch Eliot finds himself in alone and goes around the back, through the legs and close to off the underside of the bar with a circus shot for the highlight reels.
Goal 2 Red: Adam Fox dances in the offensive zone before finding Morgan Geekie on the opposite side for another pretty pass and finish (Helvig in goal).
Goal 3 Red: Adam Fox is at it again. First he feeds Luke Martin for a slap shot is on net. Then Fox goes to the net, retrieves the rebound and quickly feeds it across to Luke Stevens who finishes.
Goal 4 Red: Just to show it was not luck, Fox saves his best for last. On a sort of 3-on-2 rush, he finds himself with the puck again on the left side (where all 3 passes came from). He waited until exactly the right time to feed the third player joining the rush in the middle lane only to use that perfect timing to instead feed the puck all the across through Necas who had his stick on the wrong side (probably trying to defend middle land) and before Helvig could get across (also likely anticipating the predictable feed to the middle). When Fox instead found a passing lane through the mess to Jake Bean on the far side, all he had to do was finish, which he did. (Helvig in net).
Goal 5 Red: After a pass from Theo Calvas, Jack Drury found himself in front with the puck and made a nifty quick move to open up Helvig and then quickly exploit him with a backhand through the five hole (Helvig in net).
Goal 2 White: Miscommunication behind the net (I don’t think they were calling icing which contributed) between LaFontaine and Ville Rasanen led to a turnover and a Max Zimmer shot into an empty net before LaFontaine could recover. (Someone please verify that this was in fact Zimmer (LaFontaine in goal).
Goal 3 White: Martin Necas carried around the top of the slot as he did regularly throughout the game and then ‘swoop’…somehow turned the corner gaining speed like he seems to do. He walked around Fox and right to the front of the net where he finished (LaFontaine in goal).
Goal 4 White: Max Zimmer beats LaFontaine for a little ways out.
Goal 5 White: Eetu Luostarinen wheeled across the top of the slot with room to roam with Fox and Bean both sitting back a bit. He eventually turned and beat LaFontaine with a blast (LaFontaine in goal).
Shootout: Bean saved. Geekie saved. Svechnikov lost puck. Luostarinen missed net. Stevens misses off bar. Drury misses off bar. Cotton scores with stick handling move. Martin ____ (miss). Fox ____ (miss). Eliot ____ (miss).
My three stars
1st star – Adam Fox: Despite the inclusion of forward stars like Svechnikov and Necas, Fox was the best player on the ice offensively and probably the best player overall. All three of his assists were first assists of the variety where the pass was the play. The last assist on Bean’s goal was straight out of the ‘elite playmaking center’ handbook. There was a good and obvious play to be made. By delaying and giving the defense time to read exactly that, he created another passing lane that would not otherwise have been there and exploited it quickly to the tune of a can’t miss finishing opportunity. He did get worked over on the Necas goal but also had a few good plays on the defensive side of the puck. It is one thing to be able to skate and handle the puck as a defenseman, but my early read is that Fox is at a creative level higher than that even.
2nd star – Morgan Geekie or Luke Stevens: The red side imploded a bit late to blow a 5-1 lead but were generally the stronger team otherwise. Morgan Geekie and Luke Stevens were the two forwards who most capitalized on the red team’s blue and its ability to advance and move the puck in the offensive zone. Geekie finished with two goals, and Stevens had a goal to go with a pretty assist.
3rd star – Mitch Eliot: In a game with plenty of skilled offensive fire power, a defenseman invitee posted the prettiest play of the game with his through the legs and up under the cross bar bit of wizardry. Shortly thereafter, he had a shift where he defended well one on one off the rush and then followed it up by just missing off the outside of the post. In addition to the few pretty plays offensively as a blue line free lancer, he also had his share of solid defensive plays. Kudos for Eliot for making the most of his opportunity as a camp invitee.
Martin Necas had a pretty goal and controlled the puck for extended stretches. He could easily climb into the top 3.
Invitee Mario Culina and Jake Kucharski were the better of the four goalies.
Eetu Luostarinen finished a strong week with a strong game with a sniper-like goal and generally strong play again on Saturday. He has the makings of a power forward with skill if he can continue to develop.
Luke Martin is probably the player who most increased his standing for me. I was not incredibly high on his last summer, but I thought he was the best of the defensemen on the defensive side of the puck all week, and he matched that playing a decent amount against Necas/Svechnikov on Saturday.
Other player notes
To be honest, he did not dazzle in the scrimmage. Unless he picked up a secondary assist or two, he did not score. But he showed enough flashes of what he can do along the way that the optimism for him heading into training camp is not diminished. His best chance came in alone on Mario Culina who stoned him, and he also showed a good knack for cycling the puck across the top of the offensive zone and down into the corner with Martin Necas.
What stood out for Necas was his skating ability in tight spaces again. He was a one man puck possession machine in the offensive zone at times and also notched a pretty goal slashing around Adam Fox and carving a path straight to the front of the net to finish. If I had to pick only two players whose physical ability looked to be a notch above the competition on Saturday, I would include Necas with Fox even though Necas did not garner a ton for results.
Fox was the most dynamic offensive player on the ice on Saturday which is saying something considering that first-round forwards Andrei Svechnikov and Martin Necas were in the game.
In my book, there are two levels of playmaking. One is the kind where a player sees the ice reasonably well, has good puck skills and can exploit opportunities as they arise. That is a great starting point for being a good offensive player. But the second level is the ability to create passing lanes and opportunities that were not there. His pass on the Jake Bean goal to wait until exactly the right time to fee the puck to the middle lane and then instead bypass it was just really smart. At a more general level, Fox showed an ability multiple times to patiently hold the puck and assess until he found a passing lane for a scoring chance. He also had at least two plays where he made passes off the boards in ways that were not obvious. Finally, the play where he fed Martin for a slap shot, went to retrieve the rebound and then fed the puck across to Stevens for the finish also demonstrated an ability to think the game a step or two ahead of what is happening.
As I noted above, Fox did get worked over by Necas on his goal, and defensive play in general is not his calling card. But I was thoroughly impressed with what Fox did on Saturday to the point that I rate him ahead of Jake Bean who also had a decent game offensively.
I liked his game all week. He is not the fluid skater in a big body that Jaccob Slavin or Noah Hanifin are, but Martin is efficient skating-wise and has the courage to play up on people. He had at least two good hits lined up on Saturday but of course passed on both in a friendly intra-team scrimmage. He looked good again on Saturday defending.
My read on him is mostly unchanged. Playing largely with Fox, Bean had a strong game offensively including his goal. He and Fox would be a blast to watch together. But on the defensive side of the puck, I still just do not see Bean as strong enough yet. When under pressure, he tends to sag defensively and give attacking forwards too much room which is a disaster at the NHL level. The Luostarinen goal was a case of this, and he also lost track of players in the slot a couple other times.
I already detailed his game in awarding him the third star. Good for him for capitalizing on the opportunity given to him. In total, the invitee group performed well. By no means did any of them look out of place and/or in over their head. Mario Culina had a strong game in goal, and the other skaters also held their own.
Once things settle down from the start of free agency, I will post a player-by-player assessment from prospect camp.
What say you Canes fans?
1) Who else attended Saturday’s scrimmage and has notes/observations to share?
2) Who were your three stars for Saturday’s scrimmage?
2) Which player(s) impressed you most during the whole week?