Hello and welcome to a weekly feature on CarolinaHurricanes.com in which I take your Twitter questions about the Carolina Hurricanes or other assorted topics and answer them in mailbag form. Hopefully, the final product is insightful to some degree, and maybe we have some fun along the way.
Let’s get to it.
There were lots – rookie defensemen shining against the best the league had to offer, last-second goals to force overtime, Noah Hanifin’s shootout-winning goal in his hometown, the Stanley Cup celebration weekend and much more.
But it’s a pair of moments that stick out as particularly memorable: the NHL debuts of Brock McGinn and Derek Ryan, in which they each scored a goal. From a storytelling standpoint, it really doesn’t get more perfect than that, and to be there to witness and capture their reactions was certainly a highlight of the season.
McGinn scored on his first NHL shift and second NHL shot (his own rebound), and at age 29 (as the oldest player to make his NHL debut for the Hurricanes), Ryan potted his first-career goal. The tales are as much different as they are the same: stories of unadulterated joy that create lifetime-lasting memories. NHL debuts are always special, and writing about them tends to never get too stale, especially since everyone’s road to the NHL seems unique. First goals in said debuts make the moments that much more extraordinary.
Yes and no.
I’d say yes because, between the contracts of Eric Staal and Cam Ward coming off the books, the team is going to have a nice chunk of change to play with, even if that means looking at re-signing either player for a discounted amount. For the first time in recent history, the team has some financial flexibility with which to experiment on July 1.
I’d say no because of the inherent ridiculousness of July 1. It’s easy to throw around silly dollars on the first day of free agency in an attempt to lure a name or two. Ron Francis and his team are well aware of this – just look at his historical approach to the day – and here’s what he said about July 1 in his end-of-season press conference:
“We’ll continue to do homework on guys who are available on July 1. I’ll say the same thing today that I say every year and I’ve said since I took the position: it really comes down to if the contract makes sense in term and dollars,” he said. “We think there certainly will be guys available on July 1 who are interesting. If we can get the right guy at the right term and money, we’re all about doing that.”
Noah Hanifin (United States) and Michal Jordan (Czech Republic) will be the Hurricanes’ two lone player representatives at the IIHF World Championship, while head coach Bill Peters will man the bench for Team Canada.
I know of a handful of Hurricanes that turned down World Championship invites in order to tend to various injuries sustained during the regular season. Victor Rask, Elias Lindholm and Joakim Nordstrom were invited to play for Sweden but according to general manager Ron Francis, Rask is considering shoulder surgery, Lindholm will have minor foot surgery and Nordstrom will have wrist surgery. Justin Faulk was invited to play for Team USA, but he’s coming off a lower-body injury that kept him out of 18 games down the stretch.
I believe there might be a few others, but the above names are the ones we got confirmation from on end-of-season interview day.
The 2016-17 regular-season schedule should drop in late June, somewhere in between the end of the postseason, of which the last possible day is June 18, and the 2016 NHL Draft in Buffalo, which is slated for June 24-25.
Here are a couple of things to consider with next year’s schedule, which we’ll analyze in further detail once it is released. The league has targeted Oct. 12 for Opening Night, with the World Cup of Hockey potentially running until Oct. 1; related, the NC State Fair is slated to begin Oct. 13, which would likely mean the Hurricanes open the season with their annual “State Fair road trip” and perhaps return to Raleigh the week of Oct. 23. Also to consider is the five-day “bye week” that will be introduced for each team between Jan. 1 and Feb. 28; not to mention, there will be an All-Star Break built around the Jan. 27-28 events held in Los Angeles. All of this is to say that the schedule could be quite compact next season.
Until we see the final schedule, of course, all of this remains speculation and guesswork.
Join me next week for more questions and more answers!
If you have a question you’d like answered or you’d like to discuss offside video review (I don’t understand the disdain for it) you can find me on Twitter at @MSmithCanes or drop an email here.
is the Web Producer for the Carolina Hurricanes.Email