If you have not stopped by in a couple days, you can catch up on this short “first impressions” series below:
Today’s Daily Cup of Joe finishes up the series by looking at the last two rookies.
Even considering #2 overall pick Andrei Svechnikov and some high-end veterans added, the most impressive new addition early into the 2018-19 season has been Warren Foegele. He stood out from the very beginning with his tenacity, aggressive play and ability to convert both of those into making a ton of difference-making plays.
I have been convinced that Foegele projected to become a good NHL checking line forward. But even in that optimistic outlook I significantly underestimated Foegele at least as measured by his play thus far. First, he is much more than a serviceable checking line forward. Through four games, Foegele is the single most disruptive forward in the lineup. His ability to create turnovers on the forecheck and also attack and win the puck in the offensive zone and neutral zone has been a catalyst for strong play by Staal’s line. Second, I am starting to question what his scoring ceiling might be. I do not think he possesses high-end scoring ability, but two things are making me question that. First, he has five goals and two assists in only six games. At some point, actual results have trump projections. Second, he has score at lower levels which suggests he is still capable. Foegele’s game and success are simple. He plays incredibly hard and drives his success through aggressiveness and tenacity.
Watch point: The scoring. I am increasingly cautiously optimistic that Foegele’s offensive ability is greater than I originally anticipated.
Looking only at the few games in 2018-19, Martin Necas has been the most disappointing of the promising rookie group. To be clear, I do not think anything has changed with his long-term potential. Necas still possesses incredible skating ability and has at least the raw talent of a top 6 playmaking center. But through four games, he has struggled. Not surprisingly, his game without the puck is still raw. Offensively, he is still learning how to provide a safe passing outlet for defensemen. And defensively, he still has a propensity to get focused on the puck or just let up a little and then lose track of his defensive assignment. More significant than those struggles which could have been anticipated is the fact that he is not yet producing offensively. Right now, the game just looks too fast for him. Necas too regularly skates himself into dead ends in the neutral zone and has to just push the puck to no one specifically.
The burning questions right now are whether Necas’ long-term development will be better served by NHL or AHL ice time.
Watch point: How the organization handles Necas. I am on record as preferring not to put high-end prospects. Especially after watching a similar situation play out with Elias Lindholm, I would be very careful pushing Necas too much.
What say you Canes fans?
1) What are your thoughts on Warren Foegele’s strong start?
2) How would you handle Martin Necas? Does he belong in the AHL right now? Is he destined to turn the corner and look more comfortable soon?