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.
Given talk about UFA signings or trades, what about Jay McClement and Patrick Dwyer? Any mention of those two? – Thaddeus B. (@TJBNC58)
Andrej Sekera and Jiri Tlusty are arguably the Hurricanes’ top two impending unrestricted free agents, so, naturally, there is a multitude of discussion around the chances of them either being re-signed or traded prior to the March 2 trade deadline.
The Canes have a handful of other players slated to become unrestricted free agents come summertime, and Jay McClement and Patrick Dwyer fall into that bucket. And considering the recent success – a combined 8 goals and 19 points in the team’s last 15 games – of the fourth line, comprised of Brad Malone plus the two aforementioned forwards, it’s a fair question to wonder what the plan is with them moving forward.
I had the chance to ask Canes general manager Ron Francis about McClement and Dwyer. Is this a situation where the team explores inking them to extensions prior to the deadline, or is it a process that stretches into the offseason?
“That can go either way. I’m sure there will be talks prior to the deadline,” he said. “If it’s something we want to do and the term and numbers are right, then you can get it done. If you can’t, you can do it later.”
There’s also the possibility that a playoff-bound team seeks out the depth services of either of the forwards. McClement is a reliable depth forward who is adept in the faceoff circle, winning 55.3 percent of the 637 draws he’s taken this year, a team best among those who have taken more than 35 faceoffs. He’s also an asset on the kill alongside Dwyer, who can provide a spark of offensive output in a supporting role.
“Yeah, that’s always a possibility,” Francis said of fielding offers. “Teams that are headed to the playoffs are looking for depth this time of year, and those are all things that affect the decision.”
Speaking of Sekera and Tlusty, I asked Francis if there was an update in the progress of talks with either of those two players.
“No, not at this point,” he said.
Are the Canes going to continue to use the two-goalie system, or will they move to a starter and back-up style? – Brooks H. (@overthehill98)
Roll with what works, right?
At the outset of the season, head coach Bill Peters said he wanted a starter, a horse he could rely on. Cam Ward was that guy – and arguably still is. However, as of late, it’s been prudent for the Hurricanes to use both Ward and Anton Khudobin interchangeably, more or less. And that’s a good thing.
When Ward faltered against Vancouver in mid-January, Khudobin stepped in and won three straight games. When Khudobin stumbled (or really more the team in front of him) at the end of January against St. Louis, Ward entered in relief and snagged a point in nearly 62 minutes of shutout hockey, and he would go on to win two of his next three starts.
I would argue that Ward and Khudobin comprise one of the best one-two punches in the league, and it’s working for the Canes right now.
Do you have a favorite piece you’ve written? Excuse the #HumbleBrag request. – Mason L. (@MasonLyttle)
#HumbleBrag request excused. (Indulge me for 140 words, folks. It will be brief.)
This question brings to mind a few pieces, all of which are features; there’s something special about getting to talk with someone, learn their story, talk to others about that story, craft it into a written piece and share it with the world.
There was the feature on Chuck Kaiton for his 2,900th broadcast in Feb. 2012. I had the chance to share it again when he broadcasted No. 3,000, which also spawned this Q&A.
During the 2012 work stoppage, I had the opportunity to write a number of features on Canes alumni. I had perhaps the most extensive conversation with Kevin Weekes, which morphed into maybe my favorite piece from that series of articles, though they were all a supreme pleasure to write.
But maybe my favorite piece I’ve written is this feature on Nicolas Blanchard.
Join me next week to celebrate Tweetmail’s first birthday! As always, there will be more questions and more answers.
If you have a question you’d like answered or you’d like to discuss the first two episodes of BETTER CALL SAUL, you can find me on Twitter at @MSmithCanes (or drop an email here).