Yesterday’s Daily Cup of Joe had mid-season report cards for the Carolina Hurricanes goalies and defensemen. You can find that HERE if you missed it.
Today’s Daily Cup of Joe continues with the first of two groups of forwards.
Important to note is that players are graded based on their expected role. So players expected to play on the top two lines like Aho, Staal and Teravainen are held to a higher standard than depth forwards like Martinook and Wallmark.
Sebastian Aho A
Aho entered the 2018-19 season looking to successfully transition to the center position and also take another step forward offensively. Through half of the season, he has excelled in both regards. He is on target for 90 points which would be a significant step up from the 65 that he tallied last season. And his transition to the center position has largely been a non-event. By no means has he been perfect defensively in the new role, but by no means has he looked to be in over his head. As a top 30 scorer in the entire league, Aho maybe has one more small step up to join the truly elite if he has not already.
Teuvo Teravainen B+
I find Teravainen as one of the most difficult Canes to grade at the midway point of the season. He is on target for 20 goals and 68 points. The goals would be down three and the points up four from his 2017-18 season. His plus 14, five power play goals (tied) and three shorthanded points (tied) all lead the team. And one of the most underrated developments with Teravainen has been his growth as a consistent two-way player over the past couple years. So to put it simply, he is good. Yet, if graded as a true top line scoring line forward, he leaves me wanting a bit more. I view his play in 2018-19 as much more of a complementary player who meshes well with Aho but does not really drive scoring on his own. I also think his production could benefit if he played with the mentality of a goal scorer who greedily (in a good way) looked to shoot more and played like a player who wanted to push to 35 goals.
Micheal Ferland B
Ferland’s 2018-19 season thus far is largely a story of before and after his injury. Before being sidelined with a concussion, he was a mainstay on the top line and had eleven goals and four assists in 24 games for an impressive 38-goal pace. Since returning from injury, Brind’Amour bumped him off of Aho’s line and his offensive production has yet to return. His one goal and three assists in 10 games is depth scoring at best. So does he get an A or A- for being a capable scoring power forward on Aho’s line? Or does he get a B- or C+ for depth scoring on a lower line since returning from injury. The answer lies somewhere in between. As a player who is productive as a receive/finish shooter, is capable of scoring around the crease and is effective without playing with the puck on his stic much, he seems to be a perfect complementary player for the Aho/Teravainen combination. The burning question right now is whether he will make it back to that line and if he can resume his high 30s scoring pace if he does.
Jordan Staal C+
The grade is harsh, but I think fair. Be it because of line mates or possibly just a slow start, Staal has yet to establish himself in his bread and butter shutdown role for the 2018-19 season. His minus 11 in only 29 games is a step down from his usual ability to eat up a bunch of hard minutes and match ups and be at or close to even in terms of goal differential. In addition, his scoring has actually dipped from a modest level in 2017-18. Through the 29 games that he played before being injured, Staal had only five goals and six assists for a 31-point pace over 82 games. When he returns, Staal ideally needs to both recoup his ability to lead a shutdown line and also boost his scoring to at least provide decent depth scoring given his volume of minutes.
Justin Williams B-
Williams is another difficult player to grade. There are both pros and cons to his first half play. His propensity to score when the team really needs a goal deserves high marks. His 18-goal and 46-point pace at the midway point would be similar to the 2017-18 season. And he deserves credit for stepping into a formal leadership role as the captain. But along the way Williams’ gradually declining mobility has manifested itself in a few negative ways. His lack of acceleration has resulted in a few too many turnovers in bad places exiting the defensive zone, and he has also collected a few too many ill-timed penalties. His minus 15 is the lowest on the team. I realize that there are limitations to +/-, but used as a comparative metric within the roster that simply means that at even strength the Hurricanes are losing by the most when Williams is on the ice.
Andrei Svechnikov B-
The time for giving out high marks based on potential is before the NHL draft and while players are developing at lower levels. I am not grading Svechnikov on potential but rather on actual performance through 41 games, and in that regard he gets a modest grade as might be reasonably expected from and 18-year old. Svechnikov did not take the fast track to being an elite NHL scoring forward like Canes fans had hoped, but at the same time he has not looked to be in over his head playing against NHL competition. His 38-point pace is higher-end depth scoring but not more, and as might be expected of an 18-year old rookie, he has his moments where he lapses in judgment and/or intensity level. His 18 minor penalties are also tops on the team. So graded as a top 6ish forward, Svechnikov’s first half season was more learning and developing than excelling. But despite his ups and downs, Svechnikov has shown enough flashes that the incredibly high upside that made him the first forward taken in the 2018 NHL Draft is still intact, and the bigger question for Svechnikov’s rookie season is not his first half grade but rather what his second half grade is now that he has had time to acclimate.
What say you Canes fans?
Do you agree or disagree with my grades for Aho, Teravainen, Ferland, Staal, Williams and Svechnikov? How would you assess each’s first half of the 2018-19 season?
This forward group could be described as Aho and everyone else. These are pretty fair grades.
I might grade Teravainen a little lower, because I think the expectation is that he should be scoring 5v5 goals. I’m not convinced yet that he would produce meaningful points without Aho. I’d have TT at B-.
Ferland is an interesting case, and I would grade a little higher, maybe B+. Certainly an A before the injury. I think RBA is trying to build a second scoring line with Svech and Ferland. But I’d rather put Svech with Williams or Martinook and see Ferland back with Aho – he can finish and score dirty goals and McGinn is better suited on 3rd or 4th line.
I’d give Svech a B or B+, because he’s creating high quality shots each game, he actually plays a strong 2 way game (except for the penalties), and he’s been getting better and better each week. He has more goals than TT and would benefit enormously with a talented playmaking center.
Agree with the grades mostly. I might swap TT and Ferland to be honest.
I’d give Jordan Staal a C or C- so far, he is a top 6 center with shut down duties and he has not managed to handle those duties this year. Hopefully it’s a systems / coaching issue, his line has been overused, and that can be corrected when he comes back.
I think RBA fel into the Bill Peters style trap of not trusting the young guys and going with what he knows, rain or shine. In a way staal’s injury has helped him realize that to win games the whole canes roster, top to bottom, has to contribute.
Hopefully Staal gets the time he needs to fully recover, the team is doing well without him, and can come back to show us his best. When at his finest, staal can be a beast.
The Tor blogger was posting their forward grades on Hockeybuzz and gave Nylander a big old F (3 points in 220 games). Maybe it is a good thing the canes did not get lured into that chase, Tor is regretting signing him apparently.
Granted, players need time to get up to NHL speed.
The story could be different in the next 20 games, but maybe not.
I mean 3 points in 20 games, not 220 😉 I think even Markus Kruger could manage 3 points in 220 games, though not sure Fleury could. 😉
“When you get huge money, but are still outscored by Jay McCement”
i’d give Turbo a B. It could be a B+/A-, if he would shoot more.
I think those grades are directionally correct … some comments:
1/ Aho is that rare player who has developed on plan or ahead of plan. He is elite now and doesn’t score at the elite level mostly because opponents throw their best at his line. His numbers should take another step higher when we develop a second scoring line.
2/ I have a higher opinion of TT than most others seem to. His defense is woefully underrated. He may not drive a line like Aho does but he makes his line better and the tandem with Aho on the PK has been very dangerous. Every team needs players like TT. And dogbutler, he’s starting to shoot more.
3/ Staal has been disappointing even before the injury – since roughly after the second week of the season – and I’ve been fairly vocal about it. While I hope his health is recovering, his absence has forced others to step up their game and have generally replaced his defense (with Wallmark) and his PK minutes (Aho/TT). I don’t know what the future holds here. I think we’re seeing a possible future and it’s not that terrible; actually, maybe the opposite.
4/ JW has lost a step and has taken some inopportune penalties but has generally been solid and is still clutch. There are bricks and there is mortar; he’s mortar. Every team needs mortar. (As mortar myself (in a completely different context) I know that it’s always under-appreciated.)
5/ If the standard for Svetch is an 18-year-old learning the game as a Top-6 player, then he has done just fine – and way, way, way better than Lindholm did 5 years ago. When he adds a little more snarl to his game, he’s going to be a complete beast.
6/ Ferland hasn’t been the same player since he came back from the concussion and I’m not sure whether it’s because of his health or because he hasn’t been playing with Aho/TT or because RBA is trying to balance out the lines (which has been working lately). I don’t think Matt’s grade gives him enough credit for the intangibles of general toughness and protector which the team sorely needed and seems to have much more of now.
dmiller. Glad someone else appreciates Teravainen. I read early in the season an analysis on Scetion328 that pointed out that Teravainen’s defensive prowess was a key to Aho transitioning to center. Based on the play in pre-season, that makes sense. If the Canes can get another top-line forward (more about Ferland below), then TT will challenge 70 points every season.
On the Ferland/Teravainen debate: I actually thought last night was one of Ferland’s best games. When I checked the team statistics it stood out that Ferland only had 2 hits (the team only had 14 total hits; they had 29 in the first loss to NYI, 36 in the second loss, and 31 in the third loss). But that is really not the point. The point is that Ferland had the same teammates last season that Lindholm has this season–Gaudreau has already surpassed his goal total for all of last season. Ferland had 20 assists in 77 games last season, he has 8 (including the one last night) in 35 games. Fans are excited by and remember big hits, but they are missing that Ferland is likely costing Aho and Teravainen goals. To suggest that Ferland’s projected 20 assists should be graded as high or higher than Teravainen’s 47-48 assists is stretching logic. Now there might be an argument that Ferland will end up with 8-10 goals more than TT, but part of that is because Aho AND TT were passing to Ferland. Teravainen was basically only receiving passes from Aho. It is difficult for me to write this–I like Ferland based on his story and his behavior. But any objective discussion needs to look at production and give little or no weight to “Teravainen is soft” arguments.
Apparently Ferland and the Canes remain far apart on a contract and that Carolina is focusing on signing Martinook.
Rumors have it that the canes have talked to pit and Edm about a trade.
I don’t see any Pit fit, but Ferland + Hamilton to Edm for RNH wouldn’t be such a bad deal.
I’d rather that the canes found a way to sign Ferland on some sensible deal, the team is better off with him. But if not possible I think Edm pretty badly need a gritty scoring winger and a D man, hopefully enough to give up one of their 3 top 6 centers, and a first or second round pick.
This could be a trade that benefits both teams, would translate to Hannifin + Lindholm for RNH, slight overpayment to be honest,.
Apparently Pat Maroon is available from the Blues, not a Ferland but a gritty winger replacement.
With both CGY and CAR Ferland has shown he is a positive complement to a high-scoring line of skilled players – but that he is much less when on a lower line. Therefore his individual grade really depends on how he is being utilized which makes any grade questionable.
Turbo’s grade appears to be based on his scoring – but fails to mention the work he does in the defensive zone and forechecking.
Ferland won’t be signing with us and I don’t blame him – he knows he will have suitors come June and will get at least as good a deal as he would with us if not also have the chance to receive silly money. But for now, at least, I think he has proven to be a better left-wing for Aho and Turbo than McGinn and I really think he should be moved back to that slot.
tj. In a vacuum, I agree. But since McGinn has been getting first line minutes he has 4 points in 4 games and is +4. As long as the team is winning, I wouldn’t change the lines.
As far as Ferland, I think saying he is a “positive complement” might be stretching a little. Ferland scores more goals with top line wingers. Based on what is happening in Calgary, it has become obvious that he Ferland doesn’t improve his line mates ability to score goals. I would think one thing we can all agree on is that for this season and the future the key is to maximize Aho’s success as a #1C. There really isn’t an argument that Ferland does that. There may be an argument that he does it as well as anyone currently on the team, but that is only another reason why it is imperative for the Canes to trade Faulk or Hamilton for an all-around winger.