Archive for the ‘Carolina Hurricanes’ Category

With the 19th pick, the Canes take:

July 26, 2009
(H/T to Puck Daddy for the Brody ‘stache greatness.)

19. Ashley from Life and Times of a Caniac picks Martin Brodeur.

Cap Hit: $5,200,000

Barry Melrose Rocks tells us if the winds of change will affect the Carolina Hurricanes

June 30, 2009

You’d think that we’d hate all other NHL blogs, but the truth is that we pretty much enjoy all of them. One of the best general NHL blogs out there is the magnificently named Barry Melrose Rocks and we’re glad to have them contribute to CLS for the first time.

Dave McBrayer writes for BMR as well as his Hurricanes-related blog Carolina on Ice. Make sure to follow both blogs and enjoy his slightly different take on the Hurricanes free agent situations.

The Hurricanes have only two UFAs: Erik Cole and Chad LaRose.

Am I the only one to rock the “Every LaRose has its thorn” pun? Probably.

It won’t chafe my ass to see Erik Cole walk:
Erik Cole was traded for Joni Pitkanen this time last year but the Canes were teh suck without him so they brought him back. He was good, then crappy again – consistency and his lack thereof were one of the reasons why he was traded in the first place. If he can come back at a reasonable salary (say 2 years, 2.75mil/per) – awesome. But he’s always been a beast to try and get re-signed, so perhaps Jimmy Rutherford has had enough of Cole getting the upper hand in negotiations. The whole “deciding not to show up or score a goal” in the playoffs certainly didn’t help him if he’s leveraging for a paperstack anywhere close to his prior $4mil/per contract.

I may die / cancel my season tickets / cry into my pillow if they can’t re-sign LaRose:
Chad LaRose deserves so much more than the $875,000 he got last year. He was an RFA last year and Rutherford low-balled him due to claims that LaRose was their pencilled “4th line player” with a 1 year deal. He had a career season with 19 goals and 12 assists. Now he can’t come to terms with the Canes as they most likely are trying to NOT pay him anywhere close to what he could get on the open market.

You won’t find #59 on any prized free agent lists this summer, but there are plenty of clubs that would love to have a passionate, hard working player like Chad LaRose.

Free Agent I wouldn’t mind seeing in the red and black: Mike Knuble
David Lee introduced the rumor to me. No way it happens though (please happen!).

Dual draft post: Canes Country and The Life and Times of a Caniac on the Hurricanes

June 26, 2009

(We had the bright idea to ask two Hurricanes bloggers to contribute and they both sent us something. Big thanks to both of them. For the sake of [moderate] brevity we’ll do without extensive introductions this time.)

First, Canes Country:

1. What direction do you expect Carolina to go in with this year’s draft? What’s your preference?

GM Jim Rutherford has expressed a desire to go bigger. In recent drafts, they have selected smaller, more skilled players. (Zach Boychuk). The team needs bigger bodies and this might be the draft to do it.

In my opinion, I agree with him. The team definitely needs to get bigger. While he would be a gamble, Zach Budish is the type of player the teams needs.

2. Looking back, discuss some of the highest and lowest draft moments in Hurricanes history. What are some of the “steals” and groan-inducing moments that Carolina fans will never forget?

High points included when the Canes drafted Eric Staal in 2003. I was able to attend the draft that year and Carolina management was ecstatic. They really felt they had a franchise type player with him. Another high point was when the draft was in Raleigh in 2004. The crowd was going nuts when the Canes traded up to draft Andrew Ladd, at the time the number one rated skater in North America. That was really a lot of fun.

Low points were first round selections of Igor Knyazev, (bust), Nikos Tselios, (bust), and the disappointment of how Jeff Heerema worked out after he was so highly rated.

I can’t really think of a time that the Canes “stole” someone, other than perhaps Cam Ward when he was drafted at 25th in the first round in 2002. They were also extremely pleased that Zac Dalpe slipped to them in the second round last year. We will see how he works out.

***
Now, for Ashley from the Life and Times of a Caniac:

For some bizarre reason, I keep getting the NHL Draft confused with the NFL draft. I was beginning to think up a post about how the drafting strategy of trading down to get more picks and create competition between players at training camp has worked out well – but then I realized I was thinking of Packers GM Ted Thompson, and not Canes GM Jim Rutherford, because the last thing Rutherford does is collect picks – he tends to trade them away like they grow on trees.

So then, when I was trying to think of draft busts A.J. Hawk immediately came to mind, but then I was thinking that he hasn’t really been a bust, just not yet living up to his potential, and I’d give him another year, especially with the change to a 3-4 defense… oh crap, there aren’t linebackers in the sport I’m trying to talk about.

And I keep getting confused because in football your draft picks can come in and make an immediate impact, whereas in hockey you can draft a guy in the first round and he more than likely won’t be ready to make the team for another year. So, really, the only way to judge the effectiveness of a draft is to look at who you drafted a few years down the road. Which, if you’re a Canes fan, doesn’t leave you with that much of a warm and fuzzy feeling…

1. What direction do you expect Carolina to go in with this year’s draft? What’s your preference?

As long as Rutherford gets somebody over 6 foot, I think I’ll be happy. While short guys like LaRose, Walker, and Whitney seem to excel in Carolina, it would be really rather nice to get some size on our forwards. A regularly competentdefenseman with a physical edge would be nice too. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if Rutherford drafts a goaltender – for a while he seemed bent on having a collection of them – and we could probably use a solid backup goaltender as it doesn’t seem like Michael Leighton will work out long-term. In other words, size, physicality, and competence would be good on either side of the puck.

2. Looking back, discuss some of the highest and lowest draft moments in Hurricanes history. What are some of the “steals” and groan-inducing moments that Carolina fans will never forget?

Has there ever been a “steal” for the Canes? If you peruse the draft history, there’s not too many players from the later rounds that have succeeded in the NHL. I mean, I guess there’s Wallin from the third round back in ’00 and Cole from the third in ’98, but beyond that the Canes’ drafts haven’t really panned out any steals (unless you count Eric Staal and Cam Ward, but as first round picks I tend to say that they’re merely “living up to potential”).

Groan-inducing moments? I don’t have a specific one that occurred on draft day, but I can assure you that going over the past Canes’ drafts definitely leaves you with some head-scratchers. Like, in 2001 the Canes picked Igor Knyazev over Tim Gleason. What? Jeff Heerema over Alex Tanguay? Huh? How is this stuff even possible? Maybe hindsight is 20/20 but beyond Staal and Ward I really don’t see a lot that has come out of the draft for the Canes.

Soapbox time: take this opportunity to discuss the Canes and/or NHL in general.

I think it’s awesome that the NHL changes the host city for the draft every year. It allows different fans to be able to see what happens on the draft floor, not just those in one metropolitan area. (And, yes, I am looking at the NFL, which has its draft in New York every year. Which means you listen to the Jets and Giants fans boo every draft pick every year.) When the draft was in Raleigh back in ’04, it was a big party for the Caniac Nation. An opportunity for all of the fans to see not just their own upper management, but those of the other teams (standing ovation for Gretzky? Yes!), and an opportunity to see the next big stars of the NHL, when they’re just regular people like us. There might be a lot of things that the NHL is doing wrong, but the moving draft caravan is certainly something that’s a good way to open the game to fans in all parts of North America.

Judging Jordan (and other playoff nuggets)

May 27, 2009

Be careful what you wish for?

Maybe. If you would have told Penguins fans they’d make the SCF in February, most would have looked at you funny and mocked your turtleneck. Yet here they are after a resounding sweep of the Carolina Hurricanes.

Some scattered thoughts from the playoffs:

  • It’s not fair to blame Cam Ward and Eric Staal for the series loss. Both had some low moments (Staal being held to a mere sprinkling of points; Ward allowing that ugly Max Talbot goal), but they need some help. Ray Whitney was abysmal. The Hurricanes’ D couldn’t handle Malkin or Crosby. Media members always want storylines, but a lot of times one team is just deeper, meaner and more talented.

The Hurricanes should seriously consider going after a quality offensive free agent to ease some of the burden off of Staal.

  • After witnessing Rob Scuderi limiting Alex Ovechkin toward the end of their second round series and playing very well against the Hurricanes, I was prompted to check his contract status. Rut roh: he’s an unrestricted free agent for 2009-10. Could this be a problem for the Penguins?
  • Rudy Kelly rightly pointed out that the Penguins might have been wrong when they passed up talents like Jonathan Toews and Phil Kessel to draft Jordan Staal. Still, Kessel is injury-prone and Toews might be too great to keep under contract (or as the third banana). Staal’s lack of finishing touch can be really frustrating, but he’s still an extremely impressive player who’s willing to play a lesser role alongside the Penguins other blue chip centers.

His size and defensive instincts give you the impression that he could be an amazing asset going forward. It’s hard to say, really. Would it be better to put a Todd Marchant-type cheaper veteran in Staal’s spot and put the $4 million toward a younger winger who could finish all the great opportunities created by Crosby or Malkin? Or could Staal continue to blossom into a player who could allow the Penguins to more or less roll three great lines all game long?

  • This year’s Penguins team is more of an adventure than last year’s runner-up. Last year, they didn’t even go to a game 6 (until the Red Wings claimed the Cup on Mellon Ice, the bastards). Yet this year’s scrappy bunch almost missed the playoffs, went down 0-2 to the Capitals and won a Game 7 on the road.

This team has really grown on me. Even to the point that I think I like this team more than last year’s version. In 08-09, Ryan Malone played with marshmallows sticking out of his nose, showing an undeniably endearing amount of grit.

This time around, it seems like everyone is willing to put it on the line. Even Miroslav fucking Satan looks like he’s expending energy out on the ice each game. They’re also less “stacked” without Hossa and some other solid supporting players, making them about as close to an underdog as a team with Crosby and Malkin can be.

Will some extra sand paper and an extra year of experience be enough to overcome (probable opponent) Detroit? Probably not. But either way this Penguins team is special.

Staal vs. Staal vs. tired storylines (and other Conference Finals nuggets)

May 18, 2009

  • The Staal brothers clash being a generic storyline has … become a generic storyline. You’ve got to love the way the Internet deep fries cliches. Lazy throwaway crutches get trotted out and then everyone makes fun of those crutches. When calling something a cliche jumps the shark*, then we’ve officially gone a little bit insane.

That being said, the interesting thing is that Staal vs. Staal might be a more “legitimate” matchup than Ovechkin-Crosby for a simple reason: there’s the fairly solid chance that Jordan will actually be given the task of shutting down his big brother’s line. After all, Staal-Matt CookeTyler Kennedy was the forward combination thrown out against Alex Ovechkin.

Could it be that the mainstream media’s cliched headline act might actually decide the series? My head hurts now.

  • Will it even matter who wins Canes-Penguins?

It’s the opinion of myself (and many others) that the team with the best chance of knocking off the defending champions was the Anaheim Ducks. The Blackhawks are a team with a nice combination for a playoff run: young legs, a couple veterans and key contract year performers. But after Sunday’s game, it’s pretty obvious they’ll need more than a couple lucky bounces to make the Red Wings worry.

The only place the remaining three teams can look to for hope is the Red Wings’ penalty kill. The Ducks’ PP outscored the Wings’ PP despite having less chances. The Blackhawks went 1/1 on Sunday, one of the few bright spots in a game Chicago was fortunate to have tied going into the third period.

  • Many people (rightly) complained that Evgeni Malkin has often been unfairly overlooked in all the Crosby-Ovechkin hoopla, but despite a nice 10-point effort, Geno was rightly overshadowed in the second round.

Could Geno have a big round three? The odds are in his favor: home ice, a nice break between rounds and another Southeast Division opponent. That being said, the Carolina Hurricanes seem to be quite a bit scrappier than their division neighbors.

While the Capitals seemed quite sleepy at home, the Canes fed off their rabid fans (and … Bill Cowher) to take some upset victories. Few were impressed by Washington’s unconvincing win against the Rangers in game 7; we don’t need to tell you about their performance against the Pens. Yet on the opposite end of the spectrum, Carolina shocked the Devils in the last minute in Newark, NJ and then managed to out-hustle the Bruins to an OT win.

  • It’s hard to imagine the Penguins taking a playoff foe lightly.

Just look at last year’s playoffs: they finished their Eastern rivals off in 5 games or less, never taking a game off. This year’s edition has had to battle quite a bit more (about to enter their 14th game of the playoffs, which was all they – amazingly – needed to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals last year), but they are lead by the relentlessness of Sidney Crosby and a nice group of character players.

That being said, it also wouldn’t be outrageous if there is a BIT of letdown after the super-hyped second round matchup.

Of course, the Hurricanes might end up being flat-out better than the Penguins …

  • There’s a simple reason that Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane saw only about 15 minutes of ice time in Game 1: they were awful. Kane, in particular, produced very little beyond turnovers.

Perhaps this comes from missing most of their games, but my impression is that the Hawks’ dynamic duo tends to feed off of advantageous matchups at home. Don’t be surprised if they struggle in Game 2 and then “magically” find their fire** back in the Windy City.

But please don’t make this just about experience. The Red Wings have Nicklas Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski, Johan Franzen and a soul crushingly deep group of quality players to torment any team young, old, hairy or whatever.

It’s fun to make something “the factor” in a playoff series, but sometimes one team just grossly out-classes another.

* – I actually prefer using “Jump the Cheeseburger,” an ode to the seminal Canadian TV comedy “Trailer Park Boys” but feel the reference will be too obscure. Sadly.

** “Find the fire” = “Get a more favorable matchup.”

I’m a SOOTHSAYER! (drools)

May 15, 2009

It’s not often that I predict something correctly. Even something benign like, “I’m going to take a shower in 15 minutes.” But believe it or not, I called the Scott Walker OT series winner in Twitter form. Sort of. Here’s the full stream:

WALKER did it! My God I blindly predicted something correctly! First time EVER!

@Forechecker Tim Thomas is fun to watch. Still think that contract is going to haunt Boston long term, though.

Whoops did I jinx the Canes? Suddenly they fact that they’ve played three more games this playoffs is starting to sink in. They look tired.

The Bruins just got away with a too many men on the ice. Don Cherry just rolled in his grave. Oh wait, he’s alive.

Have a weird feeling the Canes are going to take this one.

Imagine if Scott Walker scored the OT S(eries)WG?

Bruins fans: “We want it.” Boy, those Massers sure love Faith No More. (Jesus that’s an out-dated joke).

Watching Boston – Carolina on a delay, but still: did Aaron Ward’s goal saving sweep remind anyone else of Willie Mitchell vs. Dallas in 07?

Jussi Jokinen’s slash on Zdeno Chara: shades of ‘Dumb and Dumber’

May 11, 2009

I haven’t been able to find a good clip of Jussi Jokinen‘s slash on Zdeno Chara (so this might be updated, please e-mail me if you found it already), but there was something oddly comical about Chara’s animated reaction to the slash. Then I realized it was eerily similar to a scene in the artistic masterpiece “Dumb & Dumber.”

You may recall a scene where Harry (Jeff Daniels) viciously canes Lloyd (Jim Carrey) in the back of the knee. If you need to refresh your memory, start at about the 6:40 mark of this video:

Pretty good match, right?

Update: Denson from Bangin’ Panger sent the clip of the timmmbbbbeeeer slash

Zdeno Chara: a seven foot goat on skates? (and other playoff thoughts)

May 9, 2009

Zdeno Chara isn’t a hockey player, he’s a big angry tree who can slap a puck through my soul. Please don’t take this as a concentrated attack on the big Z.

But let me take you back to a fuzzy age for many of you young ones. You see, there was a time when this team named the Ottawa Senators roamed the earth as near-dominant hockey dinosaurs. While it never really worked out for that team, they were just loaded with talent.

During this period, the Senators chose Wade Redden over Chara and allowed the Big Z to sign a huge contract with the Boston Bruins. It’s hard to believe this really happened, especially since Redden’s play dropped horrifyingly enough to make him become an absolute whipping boy … for the New York Rangers.

Most would say Chara was the obvious choice for the Senators, but it’s more than a bit off putting that he might once again be a scapegoat for a team’s playoff disappointments.

I say “might” because it hasn’t been possible for me to watch much of Chara’s performances. We all know that plus/minus and offensive scoring do not necessarily define a defenseman, but without knowing his Corsi rating and his totals for goals for/against during the playoffs , those stats still tell you a somewhat disturbing story:

If you don’t feel like clicking on that image, Chara’s been held scoreless against Carolina with a -5 rating in the last three games (+1 in Boston’s dominating game 1 victory). Overall in the playoffs he has 1 goal and 1 assist. He’s also been on the ice for some dramatic goals, most noticeably Jussi Jokinen‘s OT GWG in Game 3.

Surely, the blame cannot fall only on Chara’s gigantic shoulders. That being said, don’t be surprised if the Norris Trophy-level D gets a big bowl of blame barring a near-miraculous turnaround.

  • Maybe the Carolina Hurricanes have found the perfect formula: only make the playoffs when you can make a dramatic run.
  • Whether you like the Alex Ovechkin knee-to-knee hit or not, there is NO WAY the NHL is going to have the cajones to suspend him. Even if the Penguins make it to the Conference Finals, truly threatening for the Cup is unthinkable without Sergei Gonchar.

From a “headaches for the league” standpoint, they are probably hoping that the Penguins advance without Gonchar. If not, the league’s in a lose-lose situation: if AO does get suspended, the Caps were screwed; if the Penguins get bounced then Yinzers will claim that we live in a godless society where the (talent) rich are above the law.

Let’s hope this controversy doesn’t mar what has been a true dream series for the NHL.

  • Even though Jonas Hiller had a superhuman performance against the Sharks, I keep finding myself expecting J.S. Giguere to play the role of Ghost of Playoff Goalies Past against the Red Wings. Weird, huh?
  • Finally, make sure to keep your eye on the sidebars.

The Ducks-Red Wings and Penguins-Capitals blogs have been especially busy lately and we also have plenty of goodness going on in the Hurricanes-Bruins and Canucks-Blackhawks blogs. I’ll try to keep a better eye on them as the series go deeper, but don’t let their great (no, make that superior) work slip under the radar.

Another hockey blog adventure

May 3, 2009

Cornelius has another great photo-report sharing his experiences in game 1 of Boston-Carolina. Check it out at our Bruins-Hurricanes blog. Also, if you’re interested, here’s his first trip report from the Bruins’ first round series against Montreal.

Round 2: Who’s under pressure?

April 30, 2009

With the second round set to begin in Vancouver tonight, the stakes are rising for the remaining 8 teams. Still, expectations and future outlooks play a huge role in how a team’s playoff run is evaluated. Taking that into account, which teams have the most to lose (and gain)? Are there any teams “playing with house money”? Let’s take a look.

1. Boston vs. 6. Carolina

Both teams defied expectations this season. For the Bruins, that came early, as Boston went from being a nice little 8th seed last year to a squad good enough to make people wonder if they could go toe-to-toe with San Jose and Detroit. In Carolina, the Hurricanes went through most of the regular season looking like their typical selves (limping through stretches, remaining thoroughly mediocre … the ultimate bubble team) and then all of a sudden became arguably the hottest team in the NHL.

Hockey fans will probably remember the Canes stunning two goals in 1:20 to shock the Devils for years to come. At this point, Carolina is the perfect foil for a number one seed: they’re playing their best hockey of the year and just seem to have everything falling in place. If they lose, no sweat, really. Right?

One thing that stands out for Boston is that they have some tough salary cap decisions to make. David Krejci and Phil Kessel are RFAs this summer. Marc Savard only has one year left on his contract and will certainly command a bigger cap hit than his current $5 million.

The B’s are a nice story, but the startling depth that made them such a juggernaut won’t last forever.

Bruins have way, way WAY more to lose than the Hurricanes.

2. Detroit vs. 8. Anaheim

The second of two “behemoth vs. Cinderella” match-ups, although the Ducks have more to lose than the Hurricanes (and the Red Wings are probably yawning at the pressure of being heavy favorites).

Anaheim will have a lot of questions to answer this off-season, particularly when it comes to Scott Niedermayer. Could this be the last year of the Norris brothers?

Still, the Ducks can’t sweat it too much when they look at their young forward trifecta: Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan make up quite the nice group of sub-25 threats. With Getzlaf and Perry wrapped up for a long time at a low cap hit, Anaheim isn’t crazy to wonder if the sky is the limit.

And if they get bounced, it will at least make Jonas Hiller easier to re-sign.

It’s difficult, however, to muster much fervor for the Red Wings. Yes, it would be a letdown if Detroit blows this series but they won the Cup last year. They have a mountain of talent wrapped up for below market value prices. If they screw up this year, they’ll be a top-3 seed for the next decade anyway.

Ugh.

Detroit has more to lose than Anaheim, but they both have bright futures.

2. Washington vs. 4. Pittsburgh

No doubt about it, Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin have a lot to lose in this series. They are the two faces of the league and will suffer from harsh Photoshops, mouth-breathers in comments and a predictable “I TOLD YOU SO!!!!!11” mentality. Evgeni Malkin can obviously swoop in and show that perhaps he should be the Hart trophy winner instead of Ovechkin.

Hell, even Alex Semin has plenty to prove after his “Kane over Crosby” comments from earlier this year.

If you had to choose, the slight edge in pressure might go to the Capitals. They are the higher seed with home ice advantage. After barely beating the Rangers in a 7-game series – and getting, honestly, severely out-played at times in that decisive game – the Capitals need to show that they’re not just a weak willed collection of gorgeously talented Europeans.

The Penguins have “been there” before, putting up a cute little fight against the Red Wings in the SCF last year. In some ways, that means that they have quite a bit to lose, as they don’t have the excuse of inexperience.

The Capitals and Penguins face extreme pressure to deliver on all the media hype, with a slight bit more on the Caps’ shoulders. Either way, someone’s getting flamed in a message board before this one is done.

3. Vancouver vs. 4. Chicago

The Canucks are an odd story this season. On one hand, you have disappointments like Mats Sundin and the hot button issue of re-signing the Sedin twins. There’s also the oddness of Roberto Luongo being the first goalie to be a team captain since the railroad industry was thriving.

That being said, there’s the “aha!” season of Alex Burrows and the assorted flavors of hard scrabble two-way forwards this team provides. Will Kyle Wellwood make you pay for that fat joke? Shall Ryan Kesler show us why he’s a Selke finalist? Lots of sneaky good guys on this team.

One story I promise to beat to the ground is that the Chicago Blackhawks shouldn’t be so loosey goosey this year. Everyone seems to think that the BLACKHAWKS ARE A TEAM OF THE FUTURE. While that would be great, it might not be so easy.

Martin Havlat and Nik Bulin are all but gone, barring some crazy hypnosis-based contract signings. As I wrote before, the team might have a devil of a time re-signing its talented trio of Kane-Toews-Keith between now and the 2010 summer.

Yes, the Hawks are still in their cliched “losing to learn how to win” season, but they might want to think about skipping that process altogether. Things might get a lot tougher for this team in the future.

The Canucks are under more pressure, but the Blackhawks are under more pressure than you’d think.