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Tweetmail No. 84: Hanifin, Forwards & Alternates

by Michael Smith / Carolina Hurricanes
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.

[insert thumbs up emoji]

He’s been good, and he’s only going to continue to improve. He’s just 18 years old, and he’s already gone up against some of the best the NHL has to offer. He has not been perfect by any stretch – and who is? – but at times he’s shown poise and maturity beyond his years.

He recorded his first NHL point, an assist, in the Canes’ home opener against Detroit. He played a season-high 20:30 in Washington on Saturday, Oct. 17. In that game, he also saw 3:20 of ice time on the power play. Though the man advantage didn’t convert, his unit, comprised primarily by younger players, snapped the puck around with purpose and precision.

Hanifin has recently paired with Ryan Murphy, a young duo that Peters at least wants to keep together for the time being.

“I like the way our D is set up right now. We’ll just leave all three pairs the way they are,” he said after practice on Tuesday. “Everyone’s got their role within the team, and they’ve done a good job.”

As Hanifin continues to see game action and regular minutes in specialty teams situations, he’ll continue to adapt to the NHL game. It’s really amazing to see how well he already fits in, and that’s something that is particularly noteworthy considering these stats: since 2008, just 14 defensemen, Hanifin included, have made their NHL debuts in their draft years, and Hanifin was the only defenseman selected in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft named to his team’s season-opening roster.

Both Riley Nash and Joakim Nordstrom are traveling with the Hurricanes on their road trip. Nash, who is nursing a shoulder injury suffered in the home opener against Detroit, practiced with the team on Monday and Tuesday, first in no-contact fashion before easing back in to a full skate. Nordstrom, meanwhile, has yet to practice with the team. He’s been sidelined with a lower-body injury that hasn’t improved much since he blocked a shot against Detroit on Oct. 10.

At this point, they’re probably both day-to-day, with Nash closer to a return than Nordstrom.

Perhaps more importantly, where do they fit into the lineup when they return? Eric Staal is currently playing center, and though he said earlier this year that he is more comfortable at his natural position, he has proven himself more than capable at left wing. That adjustment would allow Nash to slide into his third-line center position, with Jordan Staal centering the first line and Victor Rask manning the middle on the second line.

What about Nordstrom? Brock McGinn has made a strong case to remain with the team, at least for the time being. Perhaps Nordstrom slots in on the fourth line, or the team could opt to send him to Charlotte on a conditioning stint.

Related, you can track injury news and updates throughout the season right here.

Not that I’ve seen, unless he has something up his sleeve.

The Canes’ alternate set is somewhat unique that it features different equipment from head to toe, including black helmets, gloves, pants and socks. The gloves especially can be finicky, and players like to break them in in practice before wearing them in-game. So, that’s what the team did at PNC Area on Wednesday, Oct. 14. From what I heard in the locker room after practice, it sounded like Lack was digging the black set.

Speaking of, the Canes will wear their black alternates 12 times this season, and the first game is coming up next week when the team returns to town for their Oct. 30 tilt against the Avalanche. A complete third jersey schedule can be found here.

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Join me next week for more questions and more answers!

If you have a question you’d like answered or you’d like to discuss the ridiculously, awesomely amazing “Star Wars” trailer, you can find me on Twitter at @MSmithCanes or drop an email here.



Michael Smith
MICHAEL SMITH is the Web Producer for the Carolina Hurricanes.

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