Originally expected to rejoin the team vaguely in early December, Victor Rask is now participating as a regular in practice and should make his 2018-19 debut well ahead of the original schedule. I see Victor Rask as being a significant addition given the team’s inability to generate enough depth scoring from the bottom half of the lineup right now.
Today’s Daily Cup of Joe considers Victor Rask’s return and his role with the 2018-19 Carolina Hurricanes.
Heading into the 2018-19 season
Even before the start of the season, I extolled the virtues of Victor Rask as part of the 2018-19 Hurricanes. At the time, it was much more trendy to talk about the upside of Martin Necas and Andrei Svechnikov offensively and just chuck Rask into a random slot on the fourth line, I thought higher of his role in the 2018-19 lineup.
After his injury was announced, I wrote an article entitled, “The impact and upshot of Victor Rask’s injury.”
In that article, I wrote:
But I think that overly simplistic analysis that slots him as a fourth line center and then jumps to the conclusion that he is easily replaceable fails to consider the more detailed structure of the Carolina Hurricanes projected 2018-19 lineup. In an article on August 29 entitled, “Three players who I am higher on than the consensus”, I talked about Rask’s importance and role despite his challenging 2017-18 season.
Even before the injury, I had Rask on a short list of players who expected more from than most. In that article from August 29 entitled, “Three players who I am higher on than the consensus”, I wrote:
My best guess is that the team’s centers on opening night will be Sebastian Aho, Jordan Staal, Martin Necas and Victor Rask. In such a scenario, Rask maybe slots as the fourth center, but I think it is an important role. If the lineup shakes out like that, Jordan Staal takes as many of the tough match up minutes as possible, but especially on the road, the team needs a line to slot behind his for when teams steer their scorers away from Staal. The inability of Kruger and company to do exactly that in 2017-18 was one of a few Achilles’ heels that the team had. Rather than a fourth line that sees limited ice time, I think Brind’Amour could deploy a Rask-centered fourth line more as a defensive 2B behind Staal.
But those plans were dashed before the season even began when it was learned that Victor Rask would be out for an extended period of time with an injured hand from a kitchen accident.
The here and now
Fast forward to today, and the Carolina Hurricanes have ridden a roller coaster up and down before ultimately ending up pretty close to where they started at the quarter point with record that is one game above .500.
As relates to Victor Rask, he could figure prominently in a couple of the team’s struggles:
Depth scoring: The Hurricanes are currently 27th in the league in scoring. Even the struggling 2017-18 version of Rask finished with 14 goals and 31 points in 71 games. Even that pace which figures to be the low bar betters the current pace of Lucas Wallmark (4 goals, 20 points) and the slot currently occupied by Clark Bishop (4 goals, 8 points). Even the ‘meh’ version of Rask is an offensive upgrade right now.
A boost for two wings: Playmaking is not a strength of Rask’s game, but I still think he could prove to be an upgrade for whoever plays on his line. Simply because I think he has more to give in the goal scoring department, I would like to see Rask start with Svechnikov on his wing. Again, I would not say that generating offense is one of Rask’s strengths, but I still think he could be an upgrade to the current lineup.
Another veteran down the middle: At the most basic level, I think if Rask can quickly round into form at least in terms of being a sound two-way center then the forward depth improves to some degree and in the process makes the team better.
Best case scenario
The best case scenario is that Rask finds chemistry with Svechnikov or another wing or two and can help boost scoring for his line. The current formula of relying heavily on Aho’s line, finding intermittent power play scoring and then scraping for another goal here or there will not cut it over the course of an 82-game season. If Rask can boost a line up to at least third line depth scoring, that is a step forward for this team right now in terms of being able to score enough to win regularly.
What say you Canes fans?
1) Do you think I overestimate Victor Rask’s ability to boost the team’s fortunes?
2) If you were the head coach, where would you insert Victor Rask into the current lineup?
3) In terms of improving the team heading into to December what, within reason, would you hope/expect Victor Rask to contribute near-term?
I think Rask would be better with Svechnikov than anyone not named Aho. That playmaker point is valid, but Andrei has shown some play making capability. Still, I’d rather see that combo than not.
It does also bring up if we see Necas again. Apparently he was supposed to play wing with Rask, so is it possible we activate Rask, call up Necas, send down Bishop and PDG. This gives us a Rask/Necas/Svechnikov lines that could offer a second scoring line. Makes a “4th” line of Wallmark, Martinook and Foegele/McGinnn. Lack of a trade for a top 6 style forward, this should make us better. My only concern on a Rask with Rookies is Toughness to make sure no one takes liberties.
I’m not sure Necas will be coming back this year. Since he is 19 the clock on his entry level deal won’t start unless he plays 10 games. Also, Necas’ game without the puck was so bad I have a hard time believing it has been fixed in this short of a time in the AHL. I say keep Necas there, make sure he learns what is expected of him without the puck, and push that next contract out another season.
Also think PDG has been much improved since his hiatus to the AHL. Of the Canes fourth liners he looks like the most likely to light the lamp.
Apex – the Google translate of that Necas column was a rough read, but I understood it to say that Necas would center Rask and not the other way around.
lts – from the games I have seen he is improving and he getting quality time there; Vellucci has him slowing down his game and calling on his speed when he needs it. Until last night he was on a 6-game point streak. He still needs time there, but he is looking good, and Vellucci speaks highly of him.
How to use Rask is a big question. Rask’s best scoring seasons came with him playing in a top 6 position. At this point we are talking about him playing will lesser offensive talent. Not sure he will add a lot in that slot. Maybe more than Wallmark, but not much more.
As you’ve said Matt, playmaking really isn’t a strength of Rask. He’s solid defensively, good on draws, and has a nice shot. Maybe he slots better on the top line with Aho? It would add another finisher to that line. I would like to see if Teravainen could bring his playmaking abilities to spark a secondary scoring line. I’m not wild about his game as a passenger with Aho. I think there is more to his game if he actually tried to create offense instead of just supporting a stronger player. Maybe not, but I think it could work. I think that Teravainen would be worth $6m per.
I think Rask with both Svechnikov and Wallmark makes sense. Surely one of the centers can play LW. As has been mentioned, Rask is not a playmaker. Though the statistics don’t indicate it yet, Wallmark excelled in Charlotte at creating chances for others.
The fourth line would be Foegele/Bishop/Martinook. Foegele and Martinook seem to have chemistry. That line should be able to handle defensive challenges.
If it works two issues are resolved: getting Svechnikov going; producing chances from the fourth line.
Don’t Foegele and Martinook play on the left?
tj. This season both are on LW. Might be mistaken, but think Martinook has played all three forward positions.
Rask had shoulder surgery last season with 10 games left on the schedule after it came out of joint with out contact in a game. His shoulder clearly was a real problem last season he tried to play through. He has now had 8 months to recover from that injury and subsequent surgery. I am hoping to see a healthy, effective Rask who will boost this team on both sides of the puck.
I like the idea of Svech with Rask and I definitely like the idea of the Canes creating a second scoring line. But I’m not sure that Rask-Svech will qualify as a second scoring line. The other wing would be important. So who would you all put on the other wing? The list is slim with the current roster.
One thought I have is to see if Turbo could produce with Svech if separated from Aho. We’ve got to have more balanced scoring, especially on the road. The other option I think is Williams – I think he’d do well with Svech, although wouldn’t produce the points that TT can.
Ferland-Aho-TT (scoring #1 line)
Martinook-Staal-McGinn (shutdown line #1)
Svech-Rask-Williams (scoring #2 line)
Foeg-Wallmark-PDG (4th line)
We have a playmaking center in Turbo who playing as a complement to AHo (and doing good work there). If we had scorers to put on either of his wings (Martinook, McGinn, Williams, Foeg, PDG – none qualify even as offensive minded forwards, although with Svech on one wing a player like Martinook or McGinn may work on the left side) I would love to see him center a second scoring line, which would slot Rask into a top-of-the-line 4C, and I imagine Martinook or Foeg would see better opportunities on his line.
So as it is, I expect minor adjustments only with Rask’s return, with him centering 3rd or 4th line and Bishop returning to CLT. As such, I don’t see a big impact from his return.
Teravainen has played little center in the NHL. He isn’t very sturdy on the boards or in front of the goalie, so expecting him to be the third guy down low is probably out of his wheelhouse. Still, offense can be created from the wing. It didn’t keep Aho from being effective.
He played a little but Peters didn’t like him in that role. He is not a classic strong center but has been good on the forecheck and cycling the puck, as well as in the d-zone. Put a shooter like Svech and a strong, net-front charger/clean-up guy like Martinook and there might be something there. Of course, it is a pipedream because RBA doesn’t think that way.
I’m starting to believe that Rask was injured for much of last season and tried to play through it before he couldn’t. The real Rask was/is the Rask of the season before that approached 50-pts and was solid defensively. That player, if that’s how he comes back, would be very valuable to us now (or any other team for that matter) and worth his salary.
We certainly need a jolt and Rask opens up a number of different options – all better than those we have now. Maybe it gives RBA a way to slot JW more appropriately. It’s hard to see how our offense doesn’t improve.
My concern is only that he feels the need to come back too soon and before he’s fully healed. I would rather wait a few more weeks to be sure than rush him back too quickly.
I’ve been preaching about Rask’s injured shoulder since the middle of last season, when he became the poster child for all the Canes problems last season. In the 71st game last season he reached with his stick to his right and slightly behind him. No contact occurred. He dropped his stick and held his arm as if in a sling and skated straight to the locker room. He had surgery just days later. Clearly signs of an unstable shoulder gone bad. His ring and pinkie finger injury may have been a blessing in disguise. Biy medical standards his tendon surgery has had the full allotment of time to heal. He should be fine.
The Canes have activated Rask and sent Bishop to Charlotte. Looks like we are going to see tonight if Rask is ready or not.
4th line with Foegele and PDG at the morning skate.