In case you missed it late last night, notes from the Hurricanes 6-1 win over the Lightning are HERE.
The Hurricanes were to enter training camp with a healthy helping of roster spots open to be won in preseason. Then just before the start of training camp, the team announced that Victor Rask would be out long-term with a finger injury that required surgery.
My count is eight healthy forwards on one-way contracts plus Sebastian Aho who is on an entry-level deal but obviously an NHLer plus Andrei Svechnikov who is a more or less a certainty to remain at the NHL level. That leaves three forward slots to be won in training camp assuming there are no injuries and no players on one-way contracts are demoted. Further, I do not see Martin Necas as a player guaranteed an NHL slot regardless of preseason/training camp, but he too projects to be on the opening day roster.
That still leaves two forward slots to be won by rookies in training camp.
Based on a small sample size of two games, today’s Daily Cup of Joe handicaps the battle for those two roster slots.
In so far or at least making a case to be in
1) Lucas Wallmark
He impressed in his first preseason action on Tuesday. One of the openings is the center slot vacated by Victor Rask. The team does have options to move a player to center in Jordan Martinook and possibly Teuvo Teravainen, but I really think that slot is Wallmark’s to win. He did all he could in the AHL in 2017-18 and could be lost on waivers returning to the AHL. At least so far, the team does not seem to be interested in trying either Warren Foegele or Janne Kuokkanen at center. If that remains the case, as long as he continues to play well in preseason, I think Wallmark enters the regular season as the fourth line center.
2) Janne Kuokkanen
I detailed why I thought Kuokkanen could be a good fit for Staal’s line in Wednesday’s game recap. He won a roster spot last fall, had a strong 2017-18 AHL season especially in the second half and started off the current preseason with a three-point night. By a small margin over Wallmark, I think Kuokkanen’s game is the most well-rounded and mature of the players battling for roster spots.
3) Warren Foegele
I raved about Foegele’s play in Wednesday’s game recap HERE.
More than any other player, I think Foegele is a Brind’Amour type player. If he continues on his current path, I think he stakes a good claim to a roster spot with only waivers and contract math as potential obstacles. With Brind’Amour trying to effect a change for how the team plays, I think Foegele is just too good of a fit not to make it.
With an injury to make for one more open slot, I think all three of these players make the opening day roster. Even without an injury, I think all three will press for NHL ice time even if it is at the expense of a veteran.
On the outside looking in
4) Saku Maenalanen
Maenalanen looked competent but nothing more in Wednesday’s game playing on a line centered by Sebastian Aho. My thinking early in preseason is that the team has better options in the youth and that Maenalanen will start the season in the AHL
5) Julien Gauthier
Gauthier potted a sniper-like goal and was the screen on another goal on Wednesday. The offensive part of his game is there, but I think he still has some way to go in terms of his play without the puck. I therefore think Gauthier will start the seasoni Charlotte.
6) Aleksi Saarela
A bit like Gauthier, the curent version of Aleksi Saarela is a player who just does not do enough in between scoring chance plays. I will be watching to see if he does more in the remainder of preseason, but my impression of Saarela during the Traverse City tourney and also in the first preseason game is that he is a one-dimensional scorer who does not do enough otherwise.\
7) Nicolas Roy
By virtue of being a center, Roy could theoretically fill the slot that I put Wallmark in. I do not see Roy as being as well-rounded and advanced as Lucas Wallmark which means Roy would be destined for another season in Charlotte.
What say you Canes fans?
1) Do you agree with my current rankings for probability of making the opening day roster? If not, what do you see differently?
2) Which of these players will have the biggest impact on the 2018-19 season?
Yeah, I’m going to be in agreement, but with the proviso…
it’s only one pre-season game for all the guys.
A few days of practice AND GAMES, should clear up the picture.
ONE THING…a couple guys who are C/W may be able to make it (on the roster) because of the flexibility it gives RBA.
NATURALLY, injuries may help make the decisions moot.
I refuse to let myself get too excited /jacked up after two practice games, but after all the heartache of the last decade…
IT’S NICE TO SEE A POSSIBLE LIGHT at-the-end-of-the-tunnel, hope it’s not a TRAIN!
Matt. Agree with your overall assessment—especially since I haven’t been able to watch either game ?
You mentioned in your review of the game that you think Aho and Teravainen end up back together. I am not sure about that. Having Necas and Svechnikov together makes sense—but that would be a risk defensively to start the season. Also, I hope RBA runs four skill lines. Even if that is the case I think the team is wasting Zykov’s skill set on a line that will be second for defensive responsibility. I think it helps Aho’s transition to shelter his line, so unless the chemistry is way off:
Brind’Amour is on record saying he doesn’t plan to play Necas and Svechnikov together as they need more support as young players. Makes sense to me an 18 and 19 year old together with 1 season of pro (kinda) hockey between them? I’m with the coach.
A few weeks ago I thought the Canes really needed another top six forward in a trade. I am not as sure about that now. Of course if Stone or another forward of that level became available it would be nice to add that kind of talent. Yet the Canes kids are stepping up and playing well. I know it is preseason but the skill and drive are there.
I may be run off from C&C with pitchforks and torches but separating TT and Aho may not be the worst thing to explore. They have looked really good together because they have been the teams two most offensively talented forwards in years past. TT with Necas makes a lot of sense to me. Both can take draws, have great skill and perhaps build some chemistry during the preseason. Just a thought.
One forward who needs to be on the opening night roster is Foegele. If the teams philosophy is you earn your time, this kid deserves his shot. I listened on the radio and I thought the canes had three guys named Foegele. He was everywhere.
I believe Martinook will be on the opening night roster. He brings some experience to the fourth line and he and the Brock monster could be huge on the PK.
My total fan inspired lines would look something like this-
I certainly reserve the right to modify this after Friday.
One of the things RBA said was he already knew there was chemistry with Aho and TT together, so he seen no point in playing them together for the bulk of the pre season. He was separating them to allow the young guys to play with NHLers. So I do not think the plan is to separate them for the season. Just one of the interview things I heard.
I agree with the scoring. I was having concern about that also. Its preseason but maybe that concern is not as big as I thought.
JM “I thought they had three guys named Foegele, that guy was everywhere”
That’s what I like about Foegele too, but you said it in much better way!
I like this starting group of 12. With PDG and Martinook on one way contracts it is likely that somebody gets sent down… as long as everyone stays healthy. This competition is fun to watch play out.
Note that the group of 12 has 5 rookies plus Wallmark – a full 6 of 12 who qualify as new to the NHL. Wow!
I said this a while back, but especially with the way some of the young forwards look one of either PDG or Martinook gets waived/traded.
I agree with that lessthan.
LTS you are probably right. With that many young guys and the likelihood of injury I hope they carry extra guys. It is a long season.
Necas is a lock to be on the opening day roster – a little birdie told me so (a decision from on-high). I think he is there.
The two most impressive forwards so far have been Wallmark and Kuokkanen. With Kuokk on Staal’s wing and Staal having been quoted that he is “rooting” for Janne too make it, I think that will happen. Foegele may be next man up, but I imagine he starts in Charlotte.
I was more impressed with Maenalanen last night than you were, Matt (also less impressed with Foegele, but that is another story). But Maenalanen strikes me as a younger version of Martinook and I expect the more veteran player will stick, while Saku finds a place to live in Charlotte. I think Vellucci will love him and Maenalanen is going to see his skill level step up with a year in Charlotte under Vellucci’s tutelage.
I keep rooting for Gauthier to find his gear and play hard every shift, but he still seems lost a lot of the time – his improvement has been incremental at best and not enough to date.
As much as I like Saarela, I think he is a classic AHL sniper (think Boychuk and Terry). He will be a beast in the AHL but his game doesn’t translate – for whatever reason – to the NHL.
As lts indicated, RBA has said repeatedly he won’t play Necas and Svech together – which will mean some of sort of different approach to the lines. I could see Svech on Aho’s wing, and Turbo on Necas’s (like last night). It will be very interesting to see what shakes out.
I really like Roy’s defensive game. He may not be an offensive, fast skating dynamo, but he was making life hell for the Lightning back in his own zone, just getting in the way, throwing his body around. He will not beat out Wallmark, being a year younger and less offensively developed, but I really love to see his development, and think if not this year, we will definitely see him in Raleigh on the regs next year.
Svechnikov will have the most impact. Every rookie is going to have a fantastic impact on the Canes IMO, but the one person who has a skillset that many NHLers do not have is Svech.
And yes, while Rod rightly believes that Svechnikov and Necas shouldn’t start on the same line, I believe that is the long-term goal and unless Svech slots in next to Aho and Teravainen, Necas is the best fit skillwise, as his playmaking can only serve to benefit Svech IMO. Rookie part aside, as they won’t be rookies forever, if you look at the pure hockey part of the equation, they should really benefit each other long term.
My opening night 13 right now is:
Di Gi (extra)
On pure hockey alone, and probably soon into the season, I’d expect to see:
Fogger I’m curious about your switching between McGinn and Pdg,on your 13th F…! What is your rationale?
I think Di Giuseppe’s playmaking skills are underrated. I think McGinn is an excellent high motor player, but I’ve never seen anything from him that screams playmaker.
Given that both McGinn and DiGi have relatively similar professional experience, I think that DiGi is the better complimentary player to that line than McGinn, just with his passing vision. While McGinn’s grit would be useful, his propensity to hit posts would not.
I will admit, that Wallmark-to-DiGi-to-Svech play really blew my mind.
All that being said, I think the best part about both DiGi and McGinn is that they are extremely versatile and can really be inserted anywhere in the lineup and still have positive effect, which makes them both key pieces in our lineup.
Imo there is no way PhD makes this team how many years can we stand to have a guy that is no scoring threat at all. We have to many young talented players to keep off the roster in favor of pdg. He has had his chances and it’s time to move on from him.I would rather keep any of these young guys over him.they all have more upside than him imo.
There is a such thing as a slow development curve. And it’s not like he’s consistently played with talent.
Matt, I agree with your current rankings. I am not sure amongst this group who will have the most impact. I think they all potentially could have big impacts.
Both Gauthier and Saarela are talented but just do not seem to have that full 60 minute effort. They seem to disappear at times. I still am rooting for them. Maybe next year. Fogger is right about maybe not this year for Roy, but he is very possible next year.
I’m not going to get all that carried away after two preseason games; let’s face it, last night was very ragged and was not a particularly well-played team game (other than some of the special teams). What is very noticeable already, however, is how much more skill and competition there is across the board at every position. If the play over the next 4 games resembles the play over the previous 2, it certainly seems that coach RBD is going to have some tough roster decisions.
Of the top 3 players you mentioned, Matt, each has a specific competitive advantage over the others: Wallmark is the best / most proven Center that helps replace Rask; Kuokkanen provides the most offense; Foegele provides the “toughest to play against” especially on the PK. I’m not sure what any of the other’s competitive advantage over the others is yet.
BTW, not getting carried away is an aspirational goal; the reality is that I’m starting to get really excited about this season.