In exactly one week away from Canes hockey in the middle of the slow time of the off-season, the Hurricanes of course reeled off a run off transactions, I will comment at least briefly on the re-signing of General Manager Don Waddell and the hiring of Goalie Coach Jason Muzzatti in the next few days. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe will address the most recent news of the Carolina Hurricanes signing NCAA free agent defenseman Chase Priskie.
Quick background on the situation
Chase Priskie was drafted by the Washington Capitals in the 6th round of the 2016 NHL draft. Since then he has completed his NCAA career at Quinnipiac University. When a team drafts a player who heads to the NCAA, the team then has that players rights until his class’s graduating year — so basically four years. After those four years, usually when the player graduates, he becomes a free agent if not signed by August 15. So for a player who is not signed and who then decides to play out his senior year, the chance to become a free agent is a no-brainer unless he really wants to join the team that drafted him. That is what happened to defenseman Chase Priskie who finished up his senior season in 2018-19 and exercised his right to become a free agent. The free agency is unique. The contract to be signed is pretty much defined by the Collective Bargaining Agreement in terms of salary, signing bonus, playing bonuses and term. So there really is not much for the player to gain financially at least in terms of the contract. But what the player does get is the chance to handpick which team he wants to join. In the case of good NCAA prospects like Priskie, they basically get their pick of the litter. As a free prospect with a contract that is fixed at a regular prospect level, a number of teams would be happy to add a free higher-end prospect. So the result is an odd bidding war where a bunch of teams bid exactly the same, and the player chooses where he wants to go based on other factors.
A statement signing for the Carolina Hurricanes
In addition to the top level win of adding a good NHL prospect at no cost, this signing is also a sizable statement win for the Carolina Hurricanes. Per the terms above, Priskie chose the Hurricanes over certainly a good number of other offers that were more or less the same financially. Part of this signing would surely be Priskie’s and his agent’s assessment of the near-term opportunity to crack the NHL lineup with the Hurricanes, but part of it is also just Priskie liking the Hurricanes organization over many others who surely offered. At least as far as reported, the Hurricanes have not really even been in the mix for this type of player in recent years, so signing Chase Priskie is a vote of confidence for the organization.
Background and organizational statement noted, the most significant thing is that the Hurricanes added a quality prospect to their blue line with this signing. Priskie is coming off a strong senior season with a whopping 17 goals and 39 points in 36 games as the captain of a Quinnipiac team that made it to the second round of the NCAA tournament before losing to eventual champion Minnesota-Duluth. He was a top 10 finalist for the Hobey Baker award. Priskie’s skill set is that of an offense-leaning defenseman who has a skill set to boost scoring both on the power play and at even strength. His skill set is a bit different, but as a right shot who leans offense some might view him as a replacement for Adam Fox who was obtained in last summer’s Calgary trade but then shipped off to the Rangers this summer.
Where does Priskie likely enter the blue line depth chart?
Priskie’s timeline is an unknown until he steps into training camp and preseason action, but he figures roughly to fit into the group of Haydn Fleury, Gustav Forsling, Jake Bean and Roland McKeown who will be the bottom of the NHL blue and the top of the AHL blue line. For the team, there is not really any incentive to pre-project where he lands once he touches down in Raleigh in September. He will be given the chance to play his way to whatever level he is capable of, but there is no huge rush for him to push up to the NHL level. In fact, at least short-term I would say the opposite is true. Like Bean, Priskie will not be subject to waivers, so he can go to Charlotte without risk of being lost whereas any of McKeown, Fleury or Forsling would need to clear waivers. That could give those players a greater chance of starting the season in the NHL.
In general, I think higher-end NCAA prospects who graduate tend to be overrated. (Sorry for throwing cold water on the fun.) Every summer there are one or two players like Priskie who become free game and do so with high expectations. Last summer’s biggest prize was arguably Ryan Donato. Donato jumped immediately to the NHL, but after a slow start with the Bruins, he was sent to the AHL in early November. Donato was then the trade chip to obtain Charlie Coyle and finished the 2018-19 season strong with 16 points in 22 games for the Minnesota Wild. So while his career trajectory is promising coming out of the 2018-19 season, Donato had a mixed rookie campaign and is not so much a sure thing to be an NHL star. There are many cases of undrafted NCAA players playing at the NHL level, but there were many others whose ceiling proved to be that of a good AHL player.
In that vein, I think tempered enthusiasm is where I land. No doubt he is a good prospect to add especially for free. And like any other good prospect, he has the potential to become a difference-maker at the NHL level. But at the same time, I think those who think this immediately affects the future of proven NHLers like Justin Faulk and Dougie Hamilton (also right shot offensive defensemen) are putting the cart well before the horse.
I have been true to my word and away from Canes hockey for the most part over the past week, but my hope is to see if I can follow up with an article assessing Priskie in more detail based on reports from a contact or two who have tracked him more closely over the past year or more.
What say you Canes fans?
1) What is your opinion on claiming this as a big win for the Hurricanes organization?
2) What are your initial thoughts on Chase Priskie?
This is a big win for the Hurricanes organization because of the type of player that Priskie is. He is an RBA style of player, who leads by example and keeps himself in top shape. Whether or not he develops into a difference maker, he’s a guy we want in the locker room and on the ice. He makes his team mates better. Where better for RBA style players to land than playing for RBA?
Two years ago, Warren Foegele got my “Rod Brind’Amour Award” for the way he played in Charlotte. Foegele then put in the work in the off-season, made the team out of camp, and had a rookie campaign. Then in the playoffs, where conditioning and effort make the biggest difference, he exploded into the difference maker that he can be. He set an example for how to make it in this organization, where play is earned instead of awarded by contract structures.
Priskie is an excellent addition to the organization because of who he is. Carolina should be the destination for all players who value a champions work ethic.
Great write up Matt. Especially your caution regarding his “NHL readiness”. Another way to view the signing of Priskie is as our 13th draft pick this summer. He is the equivalent of another late first round pick. Older than the other picks he is closer to his full NHL potential than the other 12. With only 2 years on his ELC he will need to be quickly polished and evaluated for NHL readiness. I fully concur he was not chosen to replace anyone on the top 6 of the D corp, but simply to add depth to a young squad. While we all hope he is the next Cale Makar, a little tincture of time will be needed to know for sure. It’s just too early to readjust this season’s depth chart. For know now though, seeing a highly sought after UFA pick the Canes makes the loss of Adam Fox seem years away. The development of those 2 will be a competition that may be overlooked in the traditional hockey markets, but not here.
This says a lot about the organization and I’m sure some Toronto and Montreal fans are completely confused that he went with the Canes. I have 3 theories why he made this decision:
1. Rod: By all accounts, he’s grounded, passionate, and also genuinely seems to care about the players. I’m guessing Priskie was won over by RBA more than anything.
2. Playing behind Canes blue line: The long term picture is clear – Slavin and Pesce. With a strong D core, he could know that he’ll be learning from and possibly playing with top blueliners. And while Pesce/Slavin are signed long term, there a clearly spots that could open up in 1-2 years.
3. Fun: as much as I hate when media only want to talk about the storm surge, I think it has to be something a free agent considered – I could see how it could be a big turn off for some players. It probably has no factor, but I think the bigger picture is that it sends the message that the Canes locker room is a fun and healthy place. Honestly, that’s what we’re all looking for in a job.
I’d guess Priskie’s choice is 90% RBA, 6% blue line outlook, and 4% fun.
1. It is a very nice pickup for the Canes. First, I did not realize that NCAA UFAs were limited to the contract they could sign, although that makes sense they would sign an ELC.
I wouldn’t proclaim, as some have, that this makes the Canes a club players want to play for. I think Priskie’s situation is different. Teams that were mentioned in the mix include teams with limitations (BOS and it’s cap issues) or were stacked on the right side such as TBL.
I really think the Canes rose to the top because last year did make us a more desirable location and there is an easier path to NHL ice.
I think he ultimately displaces McKeown as the right-hand call-up from CLT, although Priskie will probably start the season in CLT. I think he may very well be the replacement for Faulk, ultimately. I cannot see how we will pay Faulk his next contract and Priskie has the skill set that can step in if we trade Faulk at the deadline or he leaves after the season. That is under the assumption that Priskie’s as good as they say – and that is what the first half of the season is for.
2. Speaking to Donato first, any rookie who ends up with 16 points in the final 22 games had a pretty good season. It may not have been a straight path but he had a chance to dig in and turn his game around. That is only going to help him down the road.
I expect to see Priskie start in CLT – perhaps like Bean last year it will take him a while to find his game but once it clicks there the CLT blueline, with Bean and Priskie, will be one of the best I think. And both players will see ice time with the Canes (and may well stick).
In my not-very-humble opinion, Priskie is just another under-sized right handed defenseman with a bent to scoring. Ho hum. What else is new?
Yet, he is a college player who chose us over other bigger market teams. That is no small accomplishment.
He is also a nice addition to our blue liners. He gives us some sorely needed depth. This is also not a small thing.
Can he make the transition to the NHL? That remains to be seen.
Some other under-sized defensemen (to name just a few) with a bent to scoring:
Torey Krug 5’9″ 185lbs
Eric Karlsson 6’0″ 190lbs
Ryan Ellis 5’10” 180lbs
Miro Hiskanen 6’0″ 170lbs
Cale Makar 5’11” 187lbs
Shayne Gostibehere 5’11 180lbs
While being undersized is not by itself an asset, it does not automatically eliminate every “small” defenseman from having a positive impact on their team. By the tale of the tape, none are bigger than Priskie.
Torey Krug 5’9″ 185lbs
The one that got away….
Throw Duncan Kieth on that list. If you think he is 6’1″ I have a bridge I would like to sell you. The guy put pucks in his pockets during weigh ins. Guy is 36 and still pretty damned good.
One more outsider comment on the Priskie signing. https://www.prohockeyrumors.com/2019/08/five-key-stories-81219-81819.html
I like the signing. Any time you can get a guy for free….with his recent pedigree development, it is a win. And as others have said, it’s a win for the organization’s image. Chase Priskie seemed to find his scoring touch last year and doubled down on it this season (11 and 17 goals respectively). While our depth might make TVR expendable, my guess is Roddy likes him as the anchor of the 3rd pairing….assuming he’s healthy come the season opener.
What he brings to the table is his PPQB ability. That may ultimately have been the selling point for Carolina. My guess, as others have said too, is he starts in Charlotte. As we’ve been very fortunate injury-wise these last few years, there’s a good chance that catches up to us. Having this type of higher caliber depth can’t hurt.
All in all, I’ll give another shout out to Don Waddell and his Summer:
Traded Darling (with no retention) and got a reasonable back up goalie in return
Traded for Erik Haula (our likely 3C)
Signed Ryan Dzingel (scoring depth)
Signed Fleury to a 1-way deal
Re-signed Petr Mrazek to a manageable contract with great term
Traded for Patrick Marleau and got a 1st round pick in return
Sheds salary by trading Calvin de Haan (a move I’m still scared about)freeing up money for Aho and Dzingel
Signed coveted NCAA free agent RHD Chase Priskie
Not a bad body of work, especially when one considers that the Hurricanes’s draft was lauded as one of the better ones this year.
I agree DW did an excellent job this summer – and he can relax with a few noncritical RFA signings to complete.
I do question – that was an expensive salary/cap hit for what most likely be a late first-round pick.
CdH was traded because of the uncertainty of whether and what the Aho offer sheet would look like. They were expecting more and we probably could have dumped less salary – if only we knew in advance! LOL! But I love that the Dzingel was able to be signed with the possible “excess”.
I also like what he didn’t do. Even though there was mention of talks between the Canes and Faulk no deal came about – Faulk will be looking for $6M+ with term – and he will get it next year but probably not from the Canes. Signing Faulk this summer would have really restricted our current and future salary/cap. Not trading Faulk last offseason and not signing him this offseason may be two of DW’s best non-moves. 🙂
*I do question the Marleau trade..
Yeah the de Haan thing is definitely bitter sweet. The other factor, I believe, is the fact that this is something like his 3rd shoulder surgery, so there might have been some fear of this being a recurring thing.
Taking on Marleau’s salary and cap hit for a first round pick in 2020 will remain hard to brag about until we know what happens with the pick. This past draft Toronto would have picked at 20, well before our pick at 28. Alternatively, the pick could be the necessary tender to get the right stuff at the trade deadline should we be buyers with a real shot at the big prize. Interestingly, the 2020 draft is shaping up as one of the deepest in a long time. https://prospectpipeline.ca/2019/06/20/2020-nhl-draft-ranking-top-31-off-season/. The Canes currently have 6 picks in the first 3 rounds of the next draft.
Very nice signing. One thing Priskie can do better than Fox is skate! Important these days. Depending upon how he plays in preseason I suppose he will spend most of next season in Charlotte. Faulk is gone, the question is when and if they trade him or he walks. They won’t pay him, and they shouldn’t. He’s a good player, but not a $6M player. You can’t keep all your veterans in today’s NHL. Some you keep others you have to replace with quality prospects. This is where Priskie fits in, IMO.
It was a nice thing to see the Canes win courtship for Priskie. I don’t see how the cap makes much difference. The kid makes minimum. Most teams could clear one guy to make room if he was NHL ready, which I doubt he is. I think this signing was all about character. From what I’ve heard Priskie is a very high character guy. Dundon and Brind’Amour have been adamant about building a team with the “right guys.” Priskie appears to be one of those guys. Fox and his BS probably was not. He also is more than an offensive defenseman. He can defend as well. No, he’s not big, but playing defense today is as much about your feet and your decisions as your size. Here’s to hoping he adapts to the pro game quickly and is a mainstay in the lineup in ’20-’21.
Thanks again surgalt, for the interesting article on next year’s draft class. It would appear that any pick in the first round and likely the second as well is a winner. Thus, the trade with Toronto was a win for Donny.
Let’s hope he acquires a couple more 1st as well as second round picks for 2020.
While I was a big fan of CdH, his injury history does not bode well. Best we bade him adieu.
Losing Fox didn’t break my heart. But my spirits are buoyed with the Priskie get.
My general antipathy.toward undersized defensemen is not total. I was a big Ryan Murphy fan. I was a big David Tanabe fan. I never did understand Murphy’s flameout. It was easy to understand Tanabe’s.
Torey Krug is nowhere near 5’9″. He isn’t 180 pounds soaking wet. Because of the fact that he doesn’t measure up to being undersized (he is tiny), he was not drafted. But his Texas’sized heart and grim determination show in his play. He would be a find for any team.
But Krug will be called upon to pay a heavy price for his style. Injuries will shorten his career. Oh! But while he can play, he will be so much fun to watch!
But that’s the way of the real NHL. The undersized scorers will either be easily knocked off the puck, or intimidated. Or if they have the moxie of a Torey Krug, they won’t last long.
The best mix in the real NHL is a couple of fast, skilled, undersized players with a couple of big, very strong, nasty players. Would Krug be as effective on a team without Chara and Carlo and Pastrnak and Marchand?
What if he played for a team like Toronto? I daresay things would be different.
Re: Ryan Murphy – I believe he was never the same after his concussion caused by a hit in juniors by Tom Kuhnhackl. It’s pretty ugly.
Following that he seemed to lose a lot of confidence, especially in his own zone (where he was never a stalwart but was at least solid).
In 2007 Tanabe suffered a concussion in a game with Toronto. I knew some of the medical staff famiiar wi his injury. He never recovered and was advised medically to give up hockey. If my memory selves me, (which often is not the case), some fans felt he was a bad draft pick. I felt that was unfair given his medical history. Wikipedia has a good article on his career, worth a read.
Not sure what Wikipedia has to say, but his ex-teammates said plenty. We’re talking about a guy who told Paul Coffey “no thanks” when he offered to mentor him. Sorry about his concussions, no one should suffer that fate, but he did plenty to hurt himself off the ice.