The Canes made their first round of cuts on Saturday morning, with eight players assigned to Albany of the AHL. The River Rats begin camp begins on Wednesday.
No huge surprises, with Mike Angelidis, Nicolas Blanchard, Chris Terry, Nick Dodge, Zack Fitzgerald, Jonathan Paiement, Brett Bellemore and Mike Murphy all making the trip to New York.
Head Coach Paul Maurice had warned that there might not be enough exhibition games to go around for every player at camp, which ended up being the case for everyone on today’s list except for Blanchard, who earned a fighting major in last night’s loss to Nashville. Bellemore, Dodge, Murphy and Terry played in the Traverse City prospect tournament.
“The whole idea of a short camp with not a lot of exhibition games was to get down to our group as quickly as possible,” said Maurice, who also noted that the next group of cuts would likely come after Monday’s game in Atlanta.
For that game, Maurice said the lineup would basically consist of all remaining players who did not play in the first game, plus repeat performances by Zach Boychuk and Brandon Sutter. That will still be a decent group, with two of the Hurricanes’ forward lines and defensive pairings set to play. Goaltender Cam Ward will stay in Raleigh.
Technically, the first “cut” of camp was made yesterday, with Matt Kennedy, the Canes’ fifth-round choice this past June, opting to return to his junior team in Guelph of the OHL after not being able to come to terms with Carolina on a two-way contract.
A bit of a head-scratcher there, as Kennedy should improve his great numbers from last season in an overage year of junior eligibility (he had a goal and two assists for the Storm in a shootout loss Friday night), but may not have much to gain development-wise as a 20-year-old playing against players as young as 16. The Canes would rather he develop at the professional level in Albany, but it appears that will be put on hold until next season. Carolina retains his rights until June of 2011.
The camp roster now stands at 33 players. It’s likely that those still in camp that aren’t a lock to make the Hurricanes will suit up in the Canes’ next preseason game on Monday night in Atlanta.
Notes and observations
- Although acknowledging that last night's game had all the sloppiness of an exhibition opener, Maurice said he wasn't concerned.
"Our biggest problem was our puck movement and our offensive play, but we haven't really spent any time working on that so much," he said. "You're always wanting your A game every time you get out there. We didn't have that, but it doesn't change the course that we're on for what we've set out for the rest of camp."
- The Canes chose to use eight defensemen in the Group A skate, with Tim Conboy moving back to defense to help form four even parings. Forward Jerome Samson, who had been skating with Group B, took Conboy’s spot on the fourth line with Stephane Yelle and Tom Kostopoulos.
- Tomorrow’s open practice during the Caniac Carnival will feature a full group of all 33 skaters remaining in camp. If they’re here, you’ll get to them.
- Zach Boychuk did not skate today with a minor bruise, but should be fine. I thought he started last night’s game very well, looking confident and dangerous from the get-go, but was at fault for Nashville’s second goal with a costly turnover early in the second period. He wasn’t quite the same afterwards, but it’s difficult to say if that was due to the injury or a temporary setback in confidence.
I’d chalk the mistake more to nerves than having something to learn (general pace of play, perhaps), as his cross-ice pace in the defensive zone would be an unsafe play at any level. Nothing to worry about for the Canes or Boychuk, who should pick up where he started on Monday.
- Reports from Traverse City about Brandon Sutter’s much stronger skating stride proved accurate, as he hit the offensive zone with bursts of speed and power not seen in his rookie season. A great sign that he can become more of a scoring threat.