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.
This question has come up a few times in the last few months, and I finally can provide more than a simple answer.
Let’s quickly backtrack to Nestrasil’s injury, which he suffered on Feb. 25 in Toronto. It was an unusual result of an otherwise clean and innocent play. Nestrasil was on the receiving end of a shoulder check from Nazem Kadri, and as he fell to the ice on his back-end, his lower back collided with the boards. He suffered a fractured vertebra and missed the balance of the 2015-16 season – unfortunate timing considering the career season he was having, his chemistry with linemates Joakim Nordstrom and Jordan Staal and the Hurricanes’ desperate push for the playoffs prior to the trade deadline.
Fast forward nearly five months, and Nestrasil is progressing nicely in his recovery. Hurricanes Executive Vice President and General Manager Ron Francis spoke briefly on Nestrasil’s condition during his July 1 press conference: “We have to be careful where Andrej Nestrasil is coming back into the season. Everything is progressing extremely well and we expect him to be 100 percent healthy, but that’s something we’re aware of.”
During the State of the Hurricanes discussion at Summerfest on Saturday, Francis was again asked about Nestrasil. He reiterated the fact that his recovery is going well and that the team expects him to fully recover.
So it’s all good news when it comes to Nestrasil’s recovery, which is very positive.
This is something we could probably revisit closer to training camp, but sure, why not? I’ll take a crack at it now.
Assuming Nestrasil’s healthy at the outset of the season, I think you have to try the Nordstrom-Staal-Nestrasil trio together. They had palpable chemistry last season, and it’s worth re-exploring.
Head coach Bill Peters likes pairs of forwards, and the Jeff Skinner-Victor Rask duo was oft-used. A number of right wings were employed with them, and they perhaps had the most offensive success with Phil Di Giuseppe. I’d be curious to see what newcomer Lee Stempniak could do in that slot, especially considering he totaled 51 points last season.
I like the all-Euro look on the third line, and either Teuvo Teravainen or Elias Lindholm could play in the middle.
This is a pretty gritty fourth line. All 6-foot-somethings, 205-plus. Bryan Bickell is the beast of the bunch at 6-foot-4 and 223 pounds.
I’ve got Di Giuseppe slotted as the extra forward at this point, but he could easily crack the group of 12. This is forward depth, and this is a good problem to have.
These are essentially status quo from last season, though the six/seven slot will be intriguing to watch in camp. More on that below!
What say you about the lineup above? Agree? Disagree? Think I should stick to my day job as web producer? (Yes, I should.)
As seen above, I’m going to give the nod to Ryan Murphy, who has 124 games of NHL experience under his belt, at this point in time. Here’s what Francis said about the 23-year-old blueliner, who is still a restricted free agent, a couple of weeks ago.
“Murph has kind of realized in the last two seasons – with a lot of kids, in general, who are very skilled and things come easy to you – it takes a while to understand how hard you really have to work,” he said. “I think last summer was the first summer that he really started to bear down and put that time in. I’m assuming he’s doing the exact same thing this summer. With that, hopefully comes the maturity on the ice … and he can take that next step.”
Elsewhere, I would not at all be surprised if Haydn Fleury cracked the big club’s opening night roster. He’s filled out his 6-foot-3, 221-pound frame and had a big season in Red Deer. He’ll be one to watch in Traverse City and on into camp. Free agent pick-up Matt Tennyson could also be in the mix, as well as Trevor Carrick or Roland McKeown.
Join me next week for more questions and more answers!
If you have a question you’d like answered or you also think Pokémon Go is creating a “Black Mirror”-esque smartphone dystopia, you can find me on Twitter at @MSmithCanes or drop an email here.
is the Web Producer for the Carolina Hurricanes.Email