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Tweetmail No. 106: Big Steps, Aho & Trays

by Michael Smith / Carolina Hurricanes
Hello and welcome to a weekly feature on 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.

This is always an interesting question to ponder. Noah Hanifin, Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce – three rookie defenseman who all jumped straight in this season and performed admirably – will continue to improve in 2016-17, providing a stable backbone for the Hurricanes’ blue line moving forward.

The name that jumps out at me most, though, is Phil Di Giuseppe. Di Giuseppe had an up-and-down rookie season in 2014-15 with Charlotte, one that was peppered with flashes of the scoring touch that led him to be a second-round selection (38th overall) of the Hurricanes in 2012. He then impressed in the Traverse City prospects tournament and training camp but began his second full professional season in Charlotte where, through 12 games, he amassed 10 points (4g, 6a), already a third of his point total from a season prior. In fact, in Tweetmail No. 87, he was one of three forward prospects I said to “keep an eye on.”

Sure enough, less than a month later he was making his NHL debut against the Montreal Canadiens. He would ultimately skate in a half-season (41 games) with the Hurricanes, tallying seven goals and 10 assists (17 points). Skating with Victor Rask and Jeff Skinner, he was one-third of a legitimate scoring threat for the Hurricanes.

I think he’s poised to take a big step heading into his third full professional season. He needs to have another summer like he had a year ago and come into training camp with a fire to establish himself as one of the team’s scoring wingers. If so, in a full season, it’s completely realistic to see him scoring 20 goals and crossing at least the 40-point marker which is why Di Giuseppe is my pick to take the biggest step forward in 2016-17.

I suppose it’s a fair question, but certainly nothing is guaranteed or even expected when it comes to young players like Sebastian Aho making the final cut come October.

Here’s the case for Aho, who was selected by the Hurricanes in the second round (35th overall) of the 2015 NHL Draft.

He had an immensely successful season playing amongst men in Liiga and internationally with his home country of Finland. He was a point-per-game producer with Karpat of Liiga with 45 points (20g, 25a) in as many games. He added 15 points (4g, 11a) in the playoffs en route to a bronze medal. With the Finnish national team in the World Juniors, Aho tallied 14 points (5g, 9a) and claimed a gold medal.

In the seven-game preliminary round of the World Championship, Aho recorded five points (1g, 4a) and a plus-4 rating for the undefeated Finnish squad. With the way the Finns dominated early on in the tournament, Aho could very feasibly hang another international gold medal around his neck this season.

From all accounts, it definitely sounds like he’s ready to make the jump to the NHL, even though he’s still two months shy of age 19. But, we won’t know for sure until training camp plays out in September and October.

I posed this question on Twitter last week before Tweetmail No. 105 hit the web and promised to discuss it further this week, so here we go.

For those unaware, the Cook Out tray is perhaps the gold standard of fast-food combo options in the South. It involves an entrée, two sides and a drink for right around $5. Can’t beat it. The combinations, though, are many. Which got the DMS wondering: what’s the pinnacle of Cook Out trays?

The Best Cook Out Tray™ has to involve a quesadilla as one of the sides. Considering it’s an entrée option as well (you get two), getting one as a side is good bang for your buck and also delicious. As for the entrée, the spicy chicken sandwich is usually my go-to, but based on a number of suggestions I went for the Big Double cheeseburger last week and was not disappointed. Either are solid entrée options, and you could argue there isn’t necessarily a bad entrée play (though two hot dogs is probably the least bang for your buck).

So what’s the second side item? I’d skip the slaw, unless you’re constructing a barbeque tray with the sandwich and hush puppies, in which case I’d probably just seek out a barbeque restaurant. I’d also skip the hush puppies, onion rings and chili as side options and zone in on fries (Cajun, of course), a corndog or one of the wraps. My go-to second side is the Cajun fries because you really can’t go wrong there.

Finally, the drink. Some suggested the shake upgrade. That’s respectable and aggressive. I opt for the Cheerwine to round out the tray.

There are around 250 words on fast food. What say you? For other opinions, be sure to click over to the tweet and check out the discussion that followed.


Join me next week for more questions and more answers!

If you have a question you’d like answered or you want to discuss how heartbreakingly brilliant “Bates Motel” was this season, especially in the final two episodes, you can find me on Twitter at @MSmithCanes or drop an email here.

Michael Smith
MICHAEL SMITH is the Web Producer for the Carolina Hurricanes.

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