The winners and losers of the season

The Canes cut their list by a significant amount on Wednesday afternoon, keeping only 25 bodies in the room. One of those dead bodies is Max Pasuritti, who will start the season on the injured reserve list and won’t count toward one of (up to) the 23 slots available on the allowed list. Canes likely won’t choose to keep 23 players on the main roster, but some of the decisions being made behind the scenes could be a key factor in how they plan to build the final roster.

Among those decisions:

  • condition Derek Stepan, who is still on the PTO’s current list of 25 players. With a great preparatory period behind him combined with the success he had last season, I would say there is a very strong chance that he will sign him for an NHL contract. He has midfield and wing versatility, can play higher in the lineup if needed, and he brings a veteran presence to the group as well. I think he got his place pretty well.
  • Stefan Neusen He is a player who, given how good he was in the AHL last year (scoring 48 goals and 85 points in 70 games), is unlikely to take down concessions. He’s signed to the league minimum ($762,500) and has over 200 NHL games under his belt, and he’d do the perfect thirteenth place/depth for this group. He could reliably enter the squad in case of injury, and give a different dynamic to the bottom 6. He might even be better than Martinock. Regardless, I think it will stick because I can’t see the wand risk exposing it to exemptions.
  • Sticks will have a real decision to make Ethan Burr, who is still one of 8 defenders on the list. More on this below.

With the bulk of training camp firmly behind us, let’s take a look at the pre-season winners and losers so far.

Winners

Dylan Coughlan: It is understood that Pacioretty got the majority of the uproar in the trade that brought Coghlan to Raleigh, and declared that the people might have been sleeping on him. He was perhaps the standout player for me during pre-season, showing his NHL-level quality at every end of the rink. He got a quick release and got the power behind his point shots, and he showed the ability to make it to the net consistently. His death is obvious, and his vision on the ice is impressive. Defensively, Gap Control looked brave and didn’t seem to be afraid to throw his body away.

It was my biggest question mark before camp started. I didn’t really know much about him and never focused on watching him play, so I was pleasantly surprised. He is undoubtedly the best out of the four defenders (Bear, De Haan, Chatfield) vying for the third pair role, and I would say he did more than enough to secure his place in the squad. He makes a minimal league which could be a real deal if he can play consistent minutes and possibly run a PP2 unit. And at 24, he still has room to grow. Based on what I’ve seen so far, I’m quite surprised that a team associated with a hoodie like Vegas would essentially toss it as an “extra” player in the trade. It’s a bewildering decision, but Hurricanes seem poised to benefit greatly from it.

Multi stromal: A somewhat unknown man who came to camp after being signed from KHL, it was apparent how Stromwal managed to score 19 goals in 39 games for Dinamo Minsk last season. He’s got a wicked and sneaky shot at his shot position, as he can capture an open space in the net from any range. He is extremely accurate with just a flick of his wrists, making him a powerful offensive player at any level. He can skate at an NHL pace too which makes his transition to NA hockey much smoother.

He was set in Chicago for the AHL among the cuts on the Canes roster yesterday, but I think we could see him at Raleigh all season. Whether it’s due to injury or struggling powerplay at any point throughout the year, he’s shown enough in pre-season that he can be considered an alternative option to deliver some insult. A man who can shoot like Strömwall is an asset, and in Canes’ lineup brimming with offensive talent, he has the skills to produce. He could be the modern version of Saku Maenalanen – a man who comes out of nowhere to make a potential impact – and at some point could help a constantly struggling powerplay group.

Calvin de Han: After getting into camp on the PTO, getting an NHL contract can only be considered a win for CDH. I would put Derek Stepan in this category as well if and when he signed officially with the team. In De Haan’s case, he has knowledge of the Canes system and was a strong contributor to the group in his only season in 2018-2019. He was an important part of the deep playoff at the time, and although he’s on the wrong side of the 30’s now, he’s proven to be a reliable defensive man in this league. Even if he’s not a regular player in the squad, he can be used in specific matches and provides a stable presence that will definitely come in handy in qualifying time. Even if he can’t reach the same level he was a few years ago, he’s certainly no worse choice than Brendan Smith or Ian Cole, and he should be a respectable presence in the locker room.


losers

Jordan Martinock: Ultimately, it can be difficult to consider Martinock a “loser” in this sense. He’ll be on the list, likely to play a lot and make close to $2 million. However, I think pre-season has revealed more than ever that he’s not worth what he’s charging. Others like Ryan Dzingel, Jamieson Rees, Malte Strömwall and Stefan Noesen have shown that they can easily replicate Martinock’s overall impact on the ice with much less money to do so, potentially providing higher altitude in the process. For a team that relies heavily on an analytic approach, Martinock’s re-signing didn’t make much sense last summer and even less so today. The move seemed like a defensive reaction to signing Tony DiAngelo, and the team would have been better off putting more money into Brooke McGinn or by promoting from within. While he’s a good support player in the NHL and there’s no denying what he’s adding to the locker room, Canes appears to have outgrown Martinook in the squad and is now on the path of better and cheaper options.

Ethan Burr: When the Hurricanes acquired Bear in the summer of 2021, I thought they were getting a steal from a player with untapped potential in exchange for a well-known item in Warren Foegele. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out for him in this system. You can’t question his heart and level of effort, but his lack of footwork and insistence on transformations when under pressure in the defensive zone made him an untrustworthy player in the Rodbrand Amour system. for example:

At this point in things, I think both sides would benefit from a change of scenery. While I think Bear has some NHL qualities, I can’t imagine him becoming an everyday player in this group. Unable to defend in a hurry, he needs to take shelter with a partner who has a defensive mindset – but the problem is that Bear doesn’t have the upside needed to harbor until it’s worth it. In the case of Jake Gardiner, his quartering could pay off thanks to his distribution and ability to play in the middle, but the team hasn’t shown enough faith in Bear to thrive in the role. He’s not dynamic enough offensively enough that you’re comfortable enough to overlook his defensive flaws, leaving his potential role undetermined in this system. Furthermore, the three Coghlan, Chatfield, and de Haan had clearly outgrown him through the camp, leaving him outside looking inward. It’s still an asset, and my position is that Canes would be better off moving it while it still has some value – and I think Bear would also benefit from a fresh start elsewhere.


Oh….

Gregory Dronov: When I started writing this article yesterday morning, I had Dronov on my “winners” list, apparently playing well enough in training camp to be awarded an entry contract. …. Even he didn’t. The Canes announced yesterday that they “mutually parted ways” with Dronov, leading me to put him on their list of “losers” for obvious reasons. After a careful situation, I decided to create a special class for him because I really can’t imagine a strange 48 hour period in regards to a single player. I mean, what the hell happened here? I was a bit disappointed when I read about the deal because I thought Dronov showed an amazing mix of skills throughout the camp. His death was remarkable and brought some nice physical items. He could have adapted to North American hockey in Chicago, and by the age of 24 he was far enough out of his development that it would have been a potential recall option had he settled and shown improvement. Regardless, that dream has largely ceased, and Dronov will long remember him as having a shorter Canes career than James Wisnewski.


As usual, thanks for reading! If you have any winners or losers from the start of the season that I haven’t touched on, feel free to discuss it in the comments below!

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