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.
At this point, the captaincy situation for next season is still to be determined, and a lot of it may depend on personnel moves made during the summer.
Here's what Executive Vice President and General Manager Ron Francis had to say about the subject at the trade deadline: "I don't take that letter lightly at all. If we don't feel we have a guy capable of wearing that letter, then we're not putting it on somebody whether it's this year or next year. Until we feel we have the guy that's the right choice, I'm comfortable not putting a 'C' on somebody."
Francis was asked about the ideal ingredients for a captain. "There's a complete package that goes with it. … Their personalities, how they would deal with the responsibilities of that letter. How they handle themselves in games, in the weight room, off the ice. Whether they're vocal with their teammates and willing to step up and challenge guys when they're not playing well."
Should there be someone who fits that mold, it would be assessed by a group, not just head coach Bill Peters making the decision himself.
What do you think - who should be the next Hurricanes' captain? Let us know in the comments below.
Speaking of captains …
Sebastian Aho certainly does have captaincy material, even if it's not in the 2017-18 season.
Even as a 19-year-old rookie in the league, it's evident that Aho has the capabilities to grow into a leadership role. On the ice, he's a smart, talented player, something both his teammates and the league came to know in 2016-17. Of what I've seen of him off the ice, he carries himself with maturity and has the respect of his peers.
He's also got a sneaky sense of humor. As he was leaving the locker room on exit interview day, he told me that all interviews next season would be conducted in Finnish.
So, time to start my lessons, I guess.
I was tempted to say Sebastian Aho for this one - and it did take him a month or so to find his footing in the NHL - but we had never seen him play before training camp, so expectations, other than what we had heard, were unknown.
With that in mind, my mind wandered to Derek Ryan, who didn't make the Canes' lineup out of camp. Called up in early November, Ryan then played with the team for the balance of the season and tallied 11 goals and 18 assists in 67 games. For the last month or so of the season, Ryan centered Jeff Skinner, who was one of the hottest players in the NHL.
"When you're playing with a goal-scorer like Jeff, you're just trying to get him the puck and most of the time, he's just looking to shoot. It's nice to have chemistry with a guy like that because usually when he's shooting he's going to score," Ryan said during his end-of-season interview. "It was fun. It's a lot of fun to play with a player as dynamic as Jeff is, and it's fun to watch, too."
From training camp to the end of the season, Ryan was recalled and then established himself as an NHL player, so he gets my nod as most improved.
"I feel like over the past however many games I played - 70 or so - that I really, in my opinion, proved that I can play in this league and help and contribute to this team to be successful," he said. "I'm really humbled by the whole experience and really grateful to be a full-time NHLer. It feels really good, for sure."
Kid Masterpiece is one of my favorite new(er) in-game features. Not familiar? Brush up on just exactly what it is here. In short, kids are tasked with drawing a player, and then the Hurricanes try to guess who said player is in the drawing. It's a riot.
My two favorites from this year are below. I won't spoil who they are, but one features probably the best drawing we've had yet. Really impressive.
Video: Kid Masterpiece
Video: Kid Masterpiece
After filming these videos, the players autograph the drawing, which is then returned to the kid artist. A pretty cool memento, for sure.
Join me next week for more questions and more answers!
If you have a question you'd like answered or you have a player drawing you'd like to share, you can find me on Twitter at @MSmithCanes or drop an email here.