Last week, I had the opportunity to speak with John Forslund and Tripp Tracy about the Carolina Hurricanes, the various offseason moves that were made this summer, and what the lineup could look like on the blueline and in the crease.
John Forslund and Tripp Tracy have been the Carolina Hurricanes’ commentating duo for quite some time now. Having been privy to the team’s various ups and downs over the course of the past several years, they had quite a bit of information to divulge about the Carolina Hurricanes and what the team may look like going forward.
The first topic we had spoken about was Justin Faulk. The interview took place on the day of the Justin Faulk trade, just hours after the deal had been finalized. I began with the elephant in the room, and asked what Faulk had meant to the team, and what the trade meant for them.
John was the first to chime in, and expressed his adoration for Faulk, and how he had stuck with the team through thick and thin, and had blossomed into a leader in the locker room. Tripp expressed sentiment regarding having a player fully developed by the team that drafted him.
Tripp mentioned that “watching a player grow from a kid into a man, and be as effective as Justin Faulk was for the Carolina Hurricanes is something special.” Both mentioned that they will miss him greatly, and spoke about how great of a person Faulk is.
John and Tripp both have quite a bit of respect for Justin Faulk, and believe that he will fit in and perform with the St. Louis Blues.
The next topic, which segued nicely from the previous topic, was in regards to the Carolina Hurricanes’ defense, and what it would look like with new additions Joel Edmundson and Jake Gardiner. John mentioned that there would be an opportunity for these new defensemen to take charge on the blueline, and to fill a spot on the powerplay unit that was left empty with the Justin Faulk trade.
Tripp mentioned that Dougie Hamilton is “the biggest X-factor on this team”, and spoke to Dougie’s offensive talents: “Dougie Hamilton is brilliant in the offensive zone, and has shown he can be brilliant at both ends of the ice.”
Dougie Hamilton has been known to make a few mistakes in the defensive zone, but Tripp is fully of the mindset that, if he can improve a bit on the defensive side of the ice, he would no doubt be that elite-level offensive defenseman that the Carolina Hurricanes would seemingly be missing in Justin Faulk.
Both commentators seemed excited to have an offensive threat in Jake Gardiner, and a big, shutdown d-man like Joel Edmundson slotting into the lineup. They both lauded Brett Pesce as well, for both his defensive skill and all-around effectiveness on the ice.
The next, and final, topic we spoke about brought us to the crease. I asked what they each thought about the battle for the backup goaltender position, and if Petr Mrazek truly did have the starter spot locked down. We now know that James Reimer has seemingly won that spot, but it was a close race that lasted virtually the entirety of the preseason.
John and Tripp were both in agreement that last year’s one-two punch of Petr Mrazek and Curtis McElhinney were a huge part in the Hurricanes’ success, both in the regular season and the postseason.
Both commentators mentioned that Mrazek would more than likely start the season as the starter, but the Carolina Hurricanes would undoubtedly be looking to have him split time with whoever the backup would turn out to be in an attempt to replicate the aforementioned one-two punch in goal.
Tripp mentioned that “50-55 games for Mrazek, and 30 or so games for the backup would closely replicate last season’s tandem”, and if either goaltender should falter, there are plenty of options waiting in the wings to step up.
All in all, the conversation was very natural and organic; John and Tripp are each a class act, and spoke with great confidence and optimism looking ahead to the 2019-20 season. The moves that the Carolina Hurricanes have made this offseason have made them a better team, and have shored up areas that the Hurricanes may have been lacking in during the 2018-19 regular season and postseason.
Question for CC Readers: What are you most looking forward to about the 2019-20 season?