The Canes will face off with a talented Buffalo Sabres squad at 4 p.m. Bolstered by recent multiple early-round draft picks, the Sabres will ice a group that includes four first-round picks in Sam Reinhart (2014), Rasmus Ristolainen (2013), Nikita Zadorov (2013) and Joel Armia (2011).
“I want to see how our guys respond,” head coach Jeff Daniels said after the morning skate. “It’s the first game, so there will be some nerves and excitement.
“The guys are itching to play. They want to make an impression and take advantage of the opportunity to play four games in five days,” Daniels continued. “It’s about making a statement.”
The Canes will ice a lineup that features a first line with a potent scoring threat in Brock McGinn, Victor Rask and Sergey Tolchinsky.
“We’re trying to put the skill guys with the skill guys and see what they can do. Victor is a guy I had all last year, and I know he can produce offensively. He’s a real smart, aware player on the ice. Defensively, he knows where he needs to be, and offensively he can shoot the puck and make plays. Sergei is an exciting player,” Daniels said on Thursday. “They need to compete and use that skill in a positive way.”
Seventh overall draft pick Haydn Fleury will be paired with Dennis Robertson on the team’s leading defensive duo. Trevor Carrick and Josh Wesley comprise another pairing, while Kyle Jenkins and Tyler Ganly round out the six-pack of blue liners.
Second-round draft pick Alex Nedeljkovic will get the nod in net in what will be his first game action as a Hurricanes prospect.
“It will be my first time seeing him,” Daniels said. “He’s a guy that has already played a couple exhibition games back in junior, so he’s game-ready. It will be a great first test against Buffalo today.”
We’ll have live game updates from West Rink at Centre Ice in Traverse City on @Canes_Gameday. The Sabres will have a radio feed available here.