– 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.
If guys like Di Giuseppe, McGinn or others are ready, will room be made for them? – David S. (@dsDhort_0610)
Yes, and it’s not even about “making room” – it’s about earning a spot.
Training camp opened with a handful of questions in the bottom six. What would the third line look like? How will the fourth line be constructed? Is a Zach Boychuk or a Chris Terry ready to make that full-time jump to the NHL?
Then, Jordan Staal suffered a fractured right fibula. Suddenly, the depth down the middle became wide open.
“I want to continue to see the centers battle it out,” head coach Bill Peters said on Tuesday. “There are positions up in the air to a certain degree, but there’s valuable ice time that’s really up in the air”
So who is going to earn a spot? I’m not sure Phil Di Giuseppe is quite ready, but he will be one to watch in Charlotte this season. Brock McGinn is pushing, and he’ll get another look in the lineup Wednesday night in Columbus.
Victor Rask has put together a good month from the NHL Prospects Tournament in Traverse City, Mich., where he led all skaters with nine points (4g, 5a), to the exhibition slate. He wasn’t too noticeable in St. Louis on Tuesday night, but not many Carolina skaters were.
“Tonight is going to go a long way to determine who we keep and who we have to send back to Charlotte or whatever the case may be,” Peters said after Wednesday’s morning skate. “After tonight, we’re down to two (preseason) games, obviously, and it’s going to go quick.”
That’s the more long-winded answer to your question, but the short answer is simply yes. There are spots to be had, and if a young guy steps up to take it, it’s his.
Will Chad LaRose be a Hurricane on Opening Night? – Tom (@stereo_plug)
For LaRose to be a Hurricane come Opening Night, he would have to be signed to an NHL contract, as he is currently on an AHL deal with the Charlotte Checkers and is in training camp as a professional tryout.
That said, let’s entertain the question.
As it stands now, I’m not certain LaRose is ready for an NHL return, but that’s not to say he wouldn’t be at some point in the future.
After taking a year off from professional hockey, LaRose is just now getting back on the ice to train in NHL practices. It’s going to take some time to get his hands back and to get that step back, and playing in Charlotte will likely be the best fit for the time being.
To play devil’s advocate, the Canes do still have a few depth needs to fill with Staal slated to be out for the next three to four months. LaRose can be an effective penalty killer, and he can be suitable role player in the bottom six.
Perhaps that’s something the Canes explore more once LaRose gets back into game action.
What kind of role do you see Haydn Fleury having on the Canes blue line, maybe not this year but in years to come? – John N. (@caniacjneal_94)
As the seventh-overall pick in this year’s draft, Fleury figures to be a crucial piece of the Canes’ blue line moving forward. As an 18-year-old, at least another year in the Western Hockey League with the Red Deer Rebels will likely serve him well for the future.
Let’s go back to what was said about Fleury on draft day:
“The thing that we like about this guy is that his upside is significant,” said Tony MacDonald, the Canes head of amateur scouting. “His offensive game is still evolving. He’s still developing. He’s still getting better in that regard, and we expect that he’ll continue to get better. He’s a very coachable kid and eager to learn.”
“You always want to be careful with young defensemen. They do take a little longer [to develop]. A lot of times you don’t know what you have until they are about 22 or 23, quite frankly,” General Manager Ron Francis said. “Ultimately, you want to do what’s best for Haydn and our franchise in the long-term, not the short term.”
Join me next week for more questions and more answers!
If you have a question you’d like answered or you want my take on the best arena I’ve visited on the road thus far, you can reach out to me on Twitter at @MSmithCanes.