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Tweetmail: Who Will Score 20 Goals This Season?

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes /

Hello and welcome to Tweetmail presented by Segra. This is a regular feature on in which I answer your Twitter questions, which are mostly about the Carolina Hurricanes, but sometimes also about travel or television or life. It's a mailbag of tweets. It's Tweetmail. Maybe you learn a little something, and maybe we have some fun, too.

Let's get to it.

If you like it, you can take it, if you don't, send it right back: The Hurricanes will have three 20-goal scorers this season. I know this is normally a CanesCast thing, but I wanted to put it out there. - @Owhatdaheck

You're correct, Joey - this is usually a CanesCast bit, but I appreciate a good crossover. Plus, it makes for a tasty thought experiment!

The Canes already have one player who has crossed the 20-goal threshold: Sebastian Aho. He's now scored at least 20 goals in each of his first five seasons in the NHL. That's pretty good. And, if this was a typical 82-game season, he'd be tracking to reach the 30-goal mark for the third consecutive season. That's also pretty good.

Beyond Aho, the Canes have a few players within striking distance of 20 goals. Nino Niederreiter has 18, Vincent Trocheck has 17 and Jordan Staal has 16. Andrei Svechnikov has 13, so he'd have to go on a scoring tear in the final six games to reach 20. Staal is probably an outside shot, too, but he has a chance to at least get close.

I think Niederreiter and Trocheck can get to 20. Trocheck is scoring at a rate that would equate to 34 goals in an 82-game season, which would be a new career high. Niederreiter has rediscovered his early 2019 form, which is exactly what the Canes' offense needed this season.

So, I'll take the fact that the team will have three 20-goal scorers this season. That's pretty impressive given that 20 goals in 56 games is essentially 30 goals in 82 games. The last time the Canes had three 30-goal scorers was 2006-07 when Justin Williams (33), Ray Whitney (32) and Eric Staal (30) each reached that mark. In the words of Staind, "It's been awhile." (The grammatically correct song title and lyric should have been "It's been a while," but that's a discussion for another day.)

How is the NHL going to conduct the Stanley Cup semifinals and potentially the Final with three U.S.-based teams and one Canadian-based team? Crossing the border or basing the Canadian team in a U.S. city that they will call "home"? - @marcpujda19

The logistics of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs are a continually evolving puzzle. The first two rounds are easy enough since they'll be played within each division. It would probably make the most sense to play the first two rounds of the North Division playoffs in Canada.

But, then what?

A lot could change between now and June, but right now the most likely scenario is that the winner of the North Division would then have to play the semifinal round in the United States. It would probably make the most sense to house that team somewhere geographically convenient for the series, too. For instance, Toronto playing in Buffalo would make logical sense, right? But what if they have to face Vegas or Colorado in the semifinals? Instead of having both teams fly across the country however many times, Toronto could instead play "home" games in Arizona or somewhere more central for that series.

The hopeful alternative is that U.S.-Canada border restrictions might loosen in a couple months' time, but that doesn't seem the most likely scenario right now. It's something, though, that the league is actively monitoring, though.

Do you expect the whole team to be healthy come playoffs? - @NSfan83

The Canes' injury list swelled on their recent six-game road trip. Four players - Jesper Fast, Brady Skjei, Jordan Martinook and Petr Mrazek - were sidelined with various maladies, but the good news is that none should be long term. Skjei is already back in the lineup, and he scored the opening goal against Detroit on Thursday.

Video: DET@CAR: Skjei opens up the scoring with a snipe

Fast has taken two recent morning skates but has still been unable to play, so it stands to reason he's fairly close to returning from a lower-body injury.

Mrazek has been skating, which is a good sign.

"I'm hoping that we'll ramp him up, and barring any setbacks, get him up to game speed quickly," Brind'Amour said on Thursday morning.

Martinook hasn't hit the ice just yet, but that's probably not too far off. Brock McGinn, who has missed the last 13 games with an upper-body injury, began skating again this week, which is a positive sign of progress.

So, barring any further injuries in the final six games, the Canes should be healthy by the start of the playoffs.

When a player travels with the team but doesn't play, what does their day look like? Do they come to the arena, still work out, etc.? - @Beth_Daniel21

I'll try to answer this as thoroughly and as succinctly as possible because there are so many dependent factors: the city, the schedule, the player, the injury, among others.

Let's lay out two scenarios. The first is specific to this season: the taxi squad player. This is basically an American Hockey League call-up at the ready. On a gameday, he goes about his business just like every other player with the exception of the afternoon, when he doesn't necessarily need a gameday nap or a ride to the rink on the early bus. The second scenario is an injured player. If the player is close enough to returning - say, Teuvo Teravainen on this last road trip - he'll travel with the team. He skates with the team during practice or the morning skate and spends a little extra time on the ice. He might do a little extra work out. On the other hand, someone like Jordan Martinook, who was injured on the road trip and was not able to skate, is a bit more limited. He might be able to do some light stuff off the ice, but most of his day is getting treatment. He'll catch the late bus to the rink to watch the game with the taxi squad and whoever else might be injured or scratched.

Hopefully that gives you a good glimpse - their days honestly aren't much different than everyone else's; the timing is just a little off from their routine.

Will we trade for Aaron Rodgers? - @grahamr_9

The Canes would have to do some serious cap gymnastics to absorb that cap hit. And, "Jeopardy!" might have first dibs.

Join me next Friday for more questions and more answers!

If you have a question you'd like answered or you have a favorite "Jeopardy!" guest host, you can find me on Twitter at @MSmithCanes, or you can drop me an email.

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