Today’s Daily Cup of Joe has a small collection of quick hitter individual player notes.
I am on record as thinking that Martin Necas might benefit from some time in the AHL. His skating and vision just have not translated to the NHL level yet, so I think he development is better served mastering the AHL, building confidence and rounding out his all-around game.
Aside from what is best for Necas, his situation also represents a significant challenge for Brind’Amour. More than any other player on the roster right now, he is challenging Brind’Amour’s ‘earn your ice time’ mantra. Despite his lack of production and in process two-way play, Necas has stayed in the lineup while a few other players have bumped in and out of the lineup.
It is not clear to me whether Wallmark’s ceiling will be more than a fourth line/depth center, but he continues to look pretty capable in that role. As a player who scored a bunch in the AHL in 2017-18, the potential is also there for things to suddenly click offensively. Regardless, I think Wallmark is gradually carving out a regular role as a depth forward. Ideally, the team becomes deep enough that it can push Wallmark down the fourth line regardless of what is built around him.
Despite Sebastian Aho’s higher scoring, Staal also has a strong claim to being the team’s best center early into the 2018-19 season. Staal continues to excel in terms of winning and maintaining puck possession. On top of that, a fortuitous burst of scoring with six points in six games has Staal contributing more like a prototypical top 6 forward.
After a relatively quiet preseason, one had to wonder how Aho would fair in his first season as a center. The answer is mostly just fine but with room for improvement primarily on the defensive side of the puck. In Sunday’s win, Aho picked up a point, but at the same time he went 1 for 10 the face-off circle. On the offensive side of the puck, Aho continues to grow as a player and projects to be exactly the top line scoring center that the Hurricanes need to balance out Staal’s defense-leaning line.
Netting it out
Based on the 2018-19 season thus far, the center position is three for four in my book. Though he is still learning in some areas, Aho looks to be exactly the scoring leader desired for a true top scoring line. As long as Aho’s line produces, Jordan Staal fits nicely in a second line slot even if his scoring is a little bit light. Finally, I see Wallmark now as a viable fourth-line center. That leaves Necas. He still projects to be a second scoring line center, but the time line is not clear and right now I am on record as preferring to send him to Charlotte.
What say you Canes fans?
1) Are you pleasantly surprised with the current level of play for the centers?
2) What are your thoughts on each of the individual centers?