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Canes Set Opening Night Roster

Necas, Kuokkanen, Fleury remain with the team

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes /

Pencils down. Time's up. Turn your papers in.

The Carolina Hurricanes finalized their 23-man Opening Night roster on Tuesday, signaling an official end to training camp as the 2017-18 regular season approaches.

The Hurricanes made two final roster moves following Tuesday morning's practice, returning defenseman Jake Bean to his junior team, the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League, and placing forward Lee Stempniak on injured reserve.


Names on the Canes' active roster, then, include forwards Martin Necas and Janne Kuokkanen and defenseman Haydn Fleury.

Tweet from @NHLCanes: The #Canes20 Opening Night roster includes 13 #Canes draft picks.6 first round5 second round1 third round1 fourth round#Redvolution

Necas was selected 12th overall by the Hurricanes in the 2017 NHL Draft and showcased his speed, skill and hockey smarts in six preseason games to earn a spot on the Opening Night roster. Much of the same was seen from Kuokkanen in the exhibition season, and the two teenagers have proven too versatile and valuable to part with, at least for now.

"Those guys have done a lot through the preseason and played very well," head coach Bill Peters said. "I think they've earned the respect of their teammates with the quality of their play to the point where guys like playing with them because they're intelligent players who make plays."

How long Necas and Kuokkanen stick around will be sorted out in the coming weeks and could be somewhat dependent on the health of Stempniak. The Canes could give Necas a nine-game look before making a final decision on his status without burning the first year of his three-year, entry-level contract.

Stempniak, shelved with an undisclosed injury, is expected to miss another 10 days to two weeks, Peters said.

"He's just not right. It's something that's not coming around. We have to be patient with it," he said. "He's missed a lot of hockey here at an important time of year. We've got to find out what's going on and get it fixed, and from there be patient with the recovery to get him back into shape."

Tweet from @MikeSundheim: Facts and figures about the @NHLCanes 2017-18 Opening Night active roster. #Redvolution

In the case of Bean, it was an inevitable game of numbers. As a 19-year-old Canadian Hockey League skater, Bean is ineligible to play in the American Hockey League until age 20.

"The realistic thing is that we don't have enough ice time available for him for where he's at in his development. He had a wonderful camp and was excellent in the exhibition games," Peters said. "He's got a high hockey IQ, so when he plays in a high-level game with good players, he's even better. … There's nothing more he could have done to make our team. We're pretty deep at that position right now."

Deep indeed, perhaps the deepest the Canes have ever been on the back-end - and that's with an average age of just 23.3. Fleury, the Canes' 7th overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, is prepared to make the jump to the NHL in his second professional season. Expect to see him pair with Trevor van Riemsdyk on Saturday night.

Tweet from @NHLCanes: Average age of the #Canes Opening Night roster: 24.9#Redvolution #Canes20Forwards: 24.9Defensemen: 23.3Goaltenders: 30.5

Goaltender Scott Darling, acquired and subsequently signed in the offseason, is expected to be the Canes' Opening Night starter.

The Hurricanes will take a day off on Wednesday before returning to the ice as a group of 23 for practice on Thursday and Friday.

Then, at long last, it's time to drop the puck.

"The guys have been good," Peters said. "The effort and intensity has been real good."

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