After a summer vacation, Tweetmail is back!
This is 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 see if I remember how to do this.
As our handy dandy offseason player tracker shows, Brett Bellemore, Patrick Dwyer, Jack Hillen, Beau Schmitz and Jared Staal remain unrestricted free agents, the latter two by virtue of not receiving qualifying offers from the Hurricanes.
At this point, I don’t see any of these players returning to the Hurricanes. It wouldn’t surprise me if the two players you mentioned –Bellemore and Dwyer –land somewhere come training camp; teams searching for depth or looking to fill a role due to injury could acquire their services via a professional tryout offer or short-term contract.
As it stands, I get the impression that the Hurricanes are in wait-and-see mode. Competition is going to be incredibly stiff on defense in camp, and there is at least one forward slot, if not a few, that could be up for grabs. Instead of filling one or more of those spots with a remaining free agent, Executive Vice President and General Manager Ron Francis has said that the Hurricanes want to drive internal competition and see which player is committed to make the jump to the NHL, similar to what Victor Rask did last year.
Speaking of contracts, be sure to bookmark our contract chart if you haven't already. It’s a useful resource in visualizing who is under contract with the organization and for how long.
Nice segue from the last question.
This is going to be something to watch in September. Last year, Victor Rask dominated at the annual NHL Prospects Tournament in Traverse City and followed that up with a strong performance in training camp, parlaying his phenomenal September into a roster spot with the big club.
Who will be this year’s Rask? Is Brock McGinn ready to make the jump? What about Sergey Tolchinsky or Erik Karlsson, both of whom will begin their professional careers this season? Patrick Brown, Justin Shugg, Brody Sutter and Brendan Woods each spent time with Canes last year – are they prepared for more? As you mentioned, Zach Boychuk will certainly be in the mix, but nothing is guaranteed at this point.
Perhaps this year’s Rask comes from the defensive corps. There are only six slots available per game, and there are conceivably eight or more players capable of filling said positions. Ryan Murphy is entering the final year of his entry-level contract, and Michal Jordan was rewarded this summer with a one-way deal. Is Danny Biega, Keegan Lowe or Rasmus Rissanen ready to see more time in Raleigh? How will Haydn Fleury and Noah Hanifin perform at Traverse City, and how will that translate in training camp?
A multitude of questions, but training camp and the six-game exhibition schedule will provide some clarity.
Just nailing the segues left and right this week.
To answer your question: yes!
Last year was the first year in which CarolinaHurricanes.com brought you live coverage of the NHL Prospects Tournament from Traverse City, and I’m pleased to report that we’ll be headed back again in September as we continue to be your go-to source for inside access.
The annual tournament takes place Sept. 11-15 and features eight teams. The Hurricanes will play in the Gordie Howe Division along with the Dallas Stars, host Detroit Red Wings and newcomer Chicago Blackhawks. Following round-robin play with divisional opponents, the teams will match-up with their standings opposite in the Ted Lindsay Division on Sept. 15, with the two No. 1 seeds battling it out for the championship.
The Canes’ tournament roster will likely be released in the next couple of weeks, and we’ll bring you features, behind-the-scenes snapshots and live game updates from Centre Ice Arena in Traverse City.
Join me next week for more questions and more answers!
If you have a question you’d like answered or you want to discuss USA’s “Mr. Robot,” which is mind-blowingly fantastic, you can find me on Twitter at @MSmithCanes (or drop an email here).