We are now inside of a month until training camp kicks off and the Traverse City prospects tourney and preseason action offers something reasonably close to real Hurricanes hockey.
With the dog days of the offseason officially upon us, here are a couple things that I will be watching over the coming weeks.
1) Justin Faulk trade watch
I still believe that the preference is to trade Faulk for more offensive fire power. With two years remaining on his contract, the team does have some leeway in terms of timing, so if a fair deal is not there, patience could be in order. But I am on record and stand by my from shortly after the Dougie Hamilton trade as saying the writing was on the wall for Faulk. We have reached the point where there is no logical time, so this trade, if it happens, could suddenly fall out of the sky without warning at any time.
2) Who arrives early
The group for the informal skates at RCI should begin to swell in the weeks ahead. Who arrives early especially from the fringe group of AHL or NHL players says something. Acting like you have the job is a good starting point for actually winning a job. The early group is often the veterans who have school age children returning to school, so I am watching to see which younger players arrive early.
3) The vibe and leadership of the informal skates
If Justin Williams is going to be the captain (or to some degree even an alternate captain), I expect he will be making an impression starting with the informal skates. The tricky part is rising up into more of a formal leadership role without trampling current captains Justin Faulk and Jordan Staal in the process. I will be watching to see how Williams acts at the informal skates.
4) Sebastian Aho’s next contract
All has been quiet with regard to Aho signing a contract extension. I still put the odds as reasonably high that he is re-signed before the regular season starts. As such, we are getting into crunch time for doing a deal during the offseason.
5) The marketing message and vibe
Social media seemingly was revamped in a very big and good way with a key hire. The team has a new slogan (“Take Warning”) and a new goal song (Petey Pablo’s “Raise Up”), so the transition is already underway. But as the start of the new season nears, I would expect the volume to pick up as the team seeks to boost attendance. I will be watching to see what else is in store in terms of new/fresh marketing.
What say you Canes fans?
1) Which of these watch items will you be tracking most closely in the weeks ahead?
2) Do you have any watch items that you would add to my mid-August list?