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Tweetmail 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 get to it.
Training camp officially ended on Tuesday, as the Hurricanes and the NHL's 30 other member clubs submitted their final Opening Night rosters.
The biggest surprise for me wasn't the inclusion of defenseman Haydn Fleury, though this does mark the first time he's beginning the season with the big club. The Canes' 7th overall draft pick from 2014 has developed properly within the system, completing his junior career and a full year with the Charlotte Checkers before making the leap to the NHL. With his performance at the NHL Prospects Tournament and throughout training camp, his name on the team's Opening Night roster isn't that much of a surprise.
What did surprise me was the performance of Martin Necas and Janne Kuokkanen, two European teenage centers who excelled in exhibition matches and challenged the Hurricanes to at least keep them around for the time being (if either of them plays in 10 or more NHL games, the first year of the three-year, entry-level contract is activated). This is a good surprise, too, and now the Canes can assess their performance against the highest level of competition in the world.
We knew both Necas, selected 12th overall this year, and Kuokkanen, drafted 43rd overall in 2016, were skilled forwards. What we didn't expect was for them to make an impact so soon. To their credit and to the Canes' delight, that's what they did, and now they are rewarded for it.
I got a few questions like this, so with Opening Night just three days out, what might the Canes' lineup look like? Here's what I'm thinking.
I'd think those centers are pretty much set. Where you might see the most variation is on the wing.
Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce combined to be a steady, solid defensive pair for the Canes last season, but we've yet to see it in action this preseason. I get the sense the coaching staff wants to at least look at how the pairs above can perform. There's a lefty-righty in each pair, which head coach Bill Peters prefers, and Fleury looks set to make his NHL debut alongside Trevor van Riemsdyk.
Scott Darling will be the team's Opening Night starter, as confirmed by Peters on Tuesday.
Now, we wait.
The start of the season is critical; points in October are worth just as much as points in March and April. It's a point of discussion each and every October, especially with the Hurricanes who have not had a history - at least in recent memory - of starting off strong. Related: the Canes' recent October schedules haven't been very kind, either - looking at you, State Fair.
- 2010-11: 5-5-0
- 2011-12: 4-4-3
- 2013-14: 4-5-3
- 2014-15: 0-6-2
- 2015-16: 5-6-0
- 2016-17: 2-4-2
The good news is that the Canes' schedule this October actually isn't that bad. The Hurricanes open with two games at home, on Saturday and Tuesday. They don't play game No. 3 until the following Saturday, the beginning of the infamous State Fair road trip that, again, isn't that bad! The trip takes the team through Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary and Dallas, a weeklong stretch that features no back-to-backs. The October schedule is spacious, and home games and road games are equal at five apiece.
Come Nov. 1, I'm looking for the Canes to have a winning record. It would be a first in this decade, and not having to work out of an early-season hole could work wonders for this young team.
Not that I'm aware of. It would have to be a one-game road trip for one team, since carrying two sets of equipment would be a logistical nightmare. I would imagine it would also need league approval.
But, it looked dope in the preseason!
Thanks to the tremendous recommendation from @RealChrisCote, we checked out The Rook & Raven Pub for lunch last week. Well worth it. Solid meal!
Join me next week for more questions and more answers!
If you have a question you'd like answered or you're about to jump on that Pixel 2 XL preorder like I am, you can find me on Twitter at @MSmithCanes or drop an email here.