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.
Who is the Canes’ rookie of the year thus far (if perchance they put you in charge of that vote)? – Doug A. (@dabrams2021)
Without a doubt, it’s Victor Rask.
His breakout season began in Traverse City, Mich., at the annual NHL Prospects Tournament, where he led all skaters with nine points (4g, 5a). That’s where he first caught the eye of head coach Bill Peters who otherwise didn’t know much else about the 21-year-old forward.
He continued to impress the coaching staff and front office in training camp and much of the exhibition season, seemingly having the inside track to crack the team’s opening night roster. When Jordan Staal was injured in the preseason, Rask’s spot in the lineup was virtually cemented, and he had still yet to play a game in the NHL.
Early in the season, Rask had to be overslotted in the absence of both Eric and Jordan Staal, and he didn’t look particularly out of place in that role. Though his minutes have been scaled back since, he played over 20 minutes against Buffalo and New York on Oct. 14 and 16.
He recorded his first career goal (and point) against the Los Angeles Kings on Nov. 2, finishing off a well-executed tic-tac-toe play from Zach Boychuk and Chris Terry, Checkers alumni hooking up in familiar fashion.
Now, he seems to have found a home as the third line center, currently flanked by young wingers Jeff Skinner and Andrej Nestrasil. Peters has tried surrounding him with more veteran talent – in one game he centered Eric Staal and Jiri Tlusty – but found that Rask wasn’t as comfortable in that role. He logs around 15 minutes of ice time each night and mans the point on one of the team’s power play units. He’s also dangerous in the faceoff circle, winning 51.7 of his draws and helping the Canes to have the fourth-best faceoff winning percentage in the NHL (52.4).
As of today, Rask has points in three straight games (1g, 3a), and his slap-shot goal against Nashville on Tuesday proved to be the difference in a 2-1 win for the Hurricanes.
Through 24 games, Rask has certainly shown why he is deserving of a full-time NHL roster spot, and he has far-and-away been the team’s best rookie this season.
When is the Christmas trade freeze? – Edith C. (@caniac47)
It’s actually more of an all-encompassing roster freeze, and here are the details as best as I can break them down.
The NHL’s holiday roster freeze initiates at 11:59 p.m. local time on Dec. 19 through 12:01 a.m. local time on Dec. 28, and it prohibits trades, waivers and loans. However, there are a few exceptions that allow roster tweaking during this time period.
Teams can still recall players during the freeze, per the collective bargaining agreement, and if a player is placed on waivers prior to the freeze and claimed after the freeze begins, the player must report to the claiming club. Also, according to the CBA, a player on an emergency recall may be returned to the AHL during the freeze period, and a player who was recalled after Dec. 11 may be reassigned through 11:59 p.m. local time on Dec. 23 if waivers are not required to complete the transaction.
The league will take a holiday break from Dec. 24-26; these are off-days for all purposes, including travel, practices and games. Typically, NHL teams fly out on the day prior to an away game, but because of the holiday break, the Hurricanes will fly to Tampa Bay early in the morning of Saturday, Dec. 27, promptly returning to Raleigh afterward.
Official #turndownforwhat statistics after two months? – Alexis (@xiolyph)
The unofficial official count is somewhere below a once-per-game average. The only city in which I can recall hearing it twice is Dallas. And, of course, there have been a handful of both home and away games in which Lil John has not graced the sound system with his presence. So, using my rudimentary math skills, that comes in somewhere under a 1.00 TDFWAA (turn-down-for-what-against-average).
Join me next week for more questions and more answers!
If you have a question you’d like answered or you’d like to nerd out with me about the out-of-this-world STAR WARS trailer, you can find me on Twitter at @MSmithCanes.