In case you missed it yesterday, part 1 of a short series of ‘first impressions’ articles covered Micheal Ferland, Jordan Martinook and Dougie Hamilton.
Today’s Daily Cup of Joe offers a similar set of first impressions on the remaining three veteran newcomers — Calvin de Haan, Petr Mrazek and Curtis McElhinney.
Calvin de Haan
My expectations for de Haan when he was acquired was that he was a steady and solid even if unspectacular second pairing defenseman cut from a Glen Wesley type of mold without a ton of solid but minimal flash. I also had him pegged as sort of the stay-home type who could pair with a more offensive-minded defenseman.
At a basic level, de Haan has matched my expectations for him to be a steady defensive defenseman. But in terms of style of play, he is different than I expected in a few key ways. First, he brings more rough and rugged than I expected. He gets a piece of opposing players when given the chance. Second is his aggressiveness. I figured him for a conservative, positionally sound defenseman, but he very much has a dose of Brett Pesce and Jaccob Slavin’s aggressive attacking style that takes away time and space.
In terms of his play thus far, I would call it a mixed bag. In the Columbus game, he had at least three instances where he played up into the neutral zone only to see the puck get behind him for an odd man rush. The Rangers game was also a mixed bag. He was plus 5 in the game but also picked up two minor penalties along the way.
Watch point: Bit cleaner play as the season progresses. He has not been bad through three games, but de Haan’s game has had its share of small ‘oopses’ thus far.
I thought Mrazek looked sharp for the most part in preseason action. And I am on record as not liking either of his two regular seasons starts. What jumps out about his game right now is the noisiness of his movement right now which has led to two problems. First is that he too often has looked like he is defending the net plus a few more feet each way. He has benefited from team mates helping cover the net, but his wandering escapades are a recipe for trouble long-term. Second and somewhat related to the wandering, Mrazek has been horrible through two starts in terms of identifying and staying on his angle. My hope is that he just needs to settle down. In terms of sticking with line combinations, Brind’Amour has been very patient which would suggest that Mrazek will get the start Tuesday get some time to round into form.
Watch point: I am watching to see how much different his game looks if he settle down a bit.
He had a really strong outing in Friday’s win. With the Hurricanes yearly goalie problems of late, by no means should the Hurricanes discard a player who is playing well. That said, I think the odds of McElhinney being the answer for a starting goalie is a long shot. But what I like about McElhinney is that as a veteran he should not be fazed by the situation. Could that and Brind’Amour’s handling be enough to make McElhinney at least a short-term answer in net?
I actually discussed the potential/issues with Brind’Amour turning quickly to McElhinney as the starter in Tuesday’s game preview which is HERE.
Watch point: Ability to repeat Friday. The question with McElhinney is to what degree he is ability to maintain Friday’s level of play.
What say you Canes fans?
What are your first impressions of Calvin de Haan, Petr Mrazek and Curtis McElhinney?
I think a lot of us are pretty harsh on the D. Defensemen make mistakes. Even the best. As long as those mistakes aren’t the same ones over and over you live with it. I think de Haan has been pretty good. Covering for Justin Faulk is a significant job. Slavin couldn’t do it. Outside of TVR our defensemen have been pretty solid. Even TVR hasn’t been awful.
I see the same things you do with Mrazek. Never seems set. But, as long has he posts Ws he should stay. Hopefully he will get more comfortable and improve.
I am not overly impressed by Mrazek, and Mac looked better, so I’d play the hot hand until it gets COLD!
None of the guys have been world class, this year or last, so in a competition you don’t ignore the NEW GUY if he is better. Mac is better, so far!
I haven’t really been impressed by either Mrazek or De Haan thus far. De Haan makes the ‘safe mistake’ rather than the risky one like Hanifin did which I can live with – but so far other than his d-zone play I haven’t much liked his decision making transitioning the puck. He seems like a dump it up the boards and wait for another puck battle guy.
But it’s early and I have faith Mrazek could maybe put together some better starts and worst case scenario De Haan becomes a 3rd pair guy this season.
De Haan only played 33 games last season, due a shoulder injury requiring surgery in mid-December 2017. He is a quiet +4 with one assist. Given the few games played after 9 months of rehab I’m inclined to be patient with my expectations of him.
I think when a goalie only allows one goal as McElhinney did, run with him. Otherwise, love the way the team is playing and being managed.