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.
The first year of Noah Hanifin’s contract is used if he plays 10 games or more in the National Hockey League.
If he were to be assigned to the American League before playing 10 NHL games, his entry-level contract would be eligible to slide.
Spoiler alert: he’s very likely going to remain with the Hurricanes this season, and that’s not a particularly tough decision at all.
Hanifin has skated in eight of the Hurricanes’ nine games this season, already posting two assists. Much more wise and mature than you might expect an 18-year-old to be, he’s been steady and reliable on the back-end. On Tuesday night’s FOX Sports Carolinas telecast, assistant coach Steve Smith praised Hanifin’s character and work ethic.
The rookie defenseman got his first breather of the season on Tuesday night in Detroit, a chance for him to take in the game from a different angle and, as head coach Bill Peters said, “freshen up.”
Recall the coaching staff took the same approach with Victor Rask in February last season, giving the then-rookie a chance to watch, learn and mentally recharge.
Especially for Hanifin, who made the jump from the college to the pro game, watching 60 minutes from above will give him a unique perspective of the game on the ice; he’ll dissect what he saw with the coaching staff, learn from it and come back ready to go.
In a sense, we’ve already sort of seen this. While 3-on-3 is indeed “organized chaos,” as head coach Bill Peters as described it, a common strategy has prevailed: don’t give up the puck.
There are a number of ways to maintain possession, and one that has been readily utilized is passing back to the goaltender while the team regroups or rolls a line change. Essentially, the goaltender is being tapped as a fourth skater.
Since joining the Hurricanes coaching staff, goaltending coach David Marcoux has worked closely with Cam Ward and now Eddie Lack to fine-tune their stick handling abilities – more so for playing the puck behind the net and helping to start a rush up the ice, but we’ve already seen this work pay dividends in the new overtime format.
“If you’re under siege, getting pushed up away from the blue line and don’t have anything, you might as well use the goaltender,” Peters said. “You can bring it out of the offensive zone and regroup, too. If you’re under pressure and don’t have a play, instead of giving it up or chipping it down the wall to nobody, you might as well bring it back out.”
Another question about 3-on-3 OT that I’ve seen revolved around power plays: how many players are on the ice, what happens in a two-man advantage and what happens when the penalties end?
There will not be fewer than three skaters per side on the ice at a given time; a power play would result in 4-on-3 play, and a two-man advantage would mean 5-on-3. When the penalized players are released from the box, the teams will play at 4-on-4 or 5-on-5 until the next whistle.
Cam Ward is, unquestionably, the Canes’ starting goaltender and has been since the start of the season. He’s backstopped the Canes to their three victories this season, including a 26-save shutout performance in Colorado. He’s been the difference as of late.
Lack has struggled in his two appearances thus far, especially his latest start in San Jose. But there’s no doubt he will rebound. His numbers through two games this season are not indicative of his potential, and he’ll get another shot, perhaps as soon as this week with the back-to-back in Brooklyn against the Islanders and then back home (after a nine-day road swing, no less) against the Avalanche.
Join me next week for more questions and more answers!
If you have a question you’d like answered or you’d like to vehemently disagree with me on one of the above topics, you can find me on Twitter at @MSmithCanes or drop an email here.
is the Web Producer for the Carolina Hurricanes.Email