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Tweetmail No. 245: Fan Appreciation Week

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes /

Hello and welcome to Tweetmail, a regular feature on in which I answer your Twitter questions, which are mostly about the Carolina Hurricanes. It's a mailbag of tweets. It's Tweetmail. Maybe you learn something, and maybe we have some fun, too.

It's Fan Appreciation Week, and you don't want to miss any of our deluge of giveaways, so let's get to it.

Assuming a Jan. 13 start date, when does training camp open up? - @BornACaniac

If reports from NHL insiders are accurate - and they typically are, given how dialed in reporters like Elliotte Friedman, Pierre LeBrun and Frank Seravalli are - and the NHL and NHLPA can approve all of the relevant return to play details in a timely manner, the plan would be to open training camp the first weekend in January, sometime between Friday, Jan. 1 and Sunday, Jan. 13. The 2020-21 season, with each team playing a 56-game schedule, would then begin on Wednesday, Jan. 13.

That's all subject to change so much so that it might have changed in the time it took me to type out the paragraph above.

And, of course, nothing is official until it is. When will that be? Let's hope for an early Christmas present.

What should the 2020-21 division names be? I suggest the Canes be part of the Swedish Pizza division. - @RichSlevs

That's not a bad idea, Rich, given that my understanding of Swedish pizza, which Jesper Fast mentioned on episode 144 of CanesCast, is that it's simply a little bit of anything and everything on top of a pizza. The reported division the Canes would be in embodies that same spirit.

To provide some context: The NHL is facing temporary realignment for the 2020-21 season, something that Commissioner Gary Bettman has publicly stated. Because travel across the border between the United States and Canada is extremely difficult right now, there is likely to be an all-Canadian division comprised of those seven teams. The remaining 24 U.S.-based teams will be divided into three divisions of eight. Based on recent reports, the Canes are likely to be either in the "Central" or "East" division. 

With that, here's a guess at what they'll probably be called:

  • East
  • Central
  • West
  • Canada

And here are some alternatives:

  • East: Metropolitan, Northeast, Patrick
  • Central: South, South Central, Norris
  • West: Frequent Flyer, Adams(?)
  • Canada: The Bubble, Mr. Division, Smythe

Maybe we'll get a concrete answer soon.

When the season does eventually start, will the Hurricanes and the other teams be playing in a bubble like they did for the Stanley Cup this year? And when will Rod Brind'Amour sign a contract extension? - @Jessica62399703

As of right now, the plan is not to play the 2020-21 season in a bubble. It's logistically challenging, financially straining and it would be a hard sell to both the players and clubs to commit to such an endeavor. There could, however, be regional hubs for a period of time. Bettman floated this idea for areas where COVID-19 is spiking and the medical system is taxed. The league is considering any and all options, though I don't expect to see a full-fledged bubble again.

Not to worry about Rod Brind'Amour's contract, which expires after the 2020-21 season. He's not going anywhere, and I get the impression that, as long as he wants the job, he'll be head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes.

Can you please ask Jordan Staal who his favorite Formula 1 driver or team is? I've been dying to know since he mentioned watching Drive to Survive in an interview earlier this year. This is vital information for me. (I need to confirm he has taste.) - @westeros_queen

You are correct, Shimee. Jordan Staal did indeed watch the Netflix series "Formula 1: Drive to Survive." But, beyond that?

"I can't say I've ever watched a race," he told me.

However, with his knowledge of the Netflix series, he picked Lewis Hamilton as his favorite with Charles Leclerc as "a close second."

I'm unfortunately not familiar with any of this, so I hope this means he has good taste!

Who do you see out of the Canes prospects will have the biggest impact on their team at the World Juniors? - @powerplay53

The Canes have four forward prospects competing in the 2021 World Junior Championship: Ryan Suzuki (Canada), Vasiliy Ponomarev (Russia), Noel Gunler (Sweden) and Zion Nybeck (Sweden).

Depending on how Sweden utilizes Gunler and Nybeck, those will be two to watch. Gunler, who the Canes drafted with the 41st overall pick (2nd round) in October, has the potential to be a real impact player for his club.

"He's a player who is able to transition the puck and get it from the neutral zone to the offensive zone and make plays. When he gets the puck on his stick, he can score," said Darren Yorke, the Canes director of player personnel. "He has the dual threat of making plays and being a goal scorer."

Ponomarev, also a second-round pick (53rd overall) from the 2020 NHL Draft, could pack a little scoring punch down the middle of Russia's lineup, too.

Canada is the odds-on favorite to win the tournament (again), and their forward group is stacked with so many who could be impact players. Given his skill level, Suzuki could potentially be one of them, and maybe he can grab the gold medal that eluded his big brother, Nick, in 2019.

Do you think the SAT line is underrated among the league's top lines? - @MarcusZhang7

The Canes' top line of Andrei Svechnikov, Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen is certainly underrated because, well, you could make the argument that all three players are individually underrated, Teravainen perhaps most so. Teravainen's playmaking ability, his keen awareness to know where his linemates are on the ice at all times and then find them with a tape-to-tape pass, is something to behold. I mean, this play still makes my jaw drop, even though I know how it ends.

Video: CAR@WPG: Aho knocks in Teravainen's perfect feed

The trio combined for 77 goals and 113 assists for an even 190 points in 68 games during the 2019-20 season. All were nearly point-per-game producers, with Aho being the closest (66 points in 68 games). Despite not completing a full season, Aho had already crushed his previous career high in goals (30) with 38, well on track to cross the 40-goal mark. Svechnikov improved statistically in every category from his rookie season with 24 goals, 37 assists and 61 points. Teravainen was on track to record a career high 57 assists and likely would have tickled both the 20-goal mark and his career high in points (76) from the season prior.

With an even shorter season on the horizon, it's going to be difficult for any career numbers to be reached in 2020-21, but they could each be tracking in that direction. The line is going to drive the Canes' offense, and in my eyes, it's one of the most dangerous and underrated top lines in the league.


More questions and more answers coming your way soon!

If you have a question you'd like answered or you've enjoyed AMA week on Reddit, you can find me on Twitter at @MSmithCanes, or you can drop me an email.

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