With back-to-back home games this weekend and a looming west coast trip, the Carolina Hurricanes have recalled their 2015 first-round pick.
The Carolina Hurricanes have shot out of the gate this season, winning their first 4 games for the first time since arriving in North Carolina. While there have been plenty of positives, there is still room for improvement. With a three-game trip in the rough and tumble Western Conference kicking off in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Hurricanes GM Don Waddell opted to bring up big winger Julien Gauthier.
Gauthier, who had a very strong camp and preseason, made a sizable impression before being one of the final roster cuts. Despite only registering one assist in six exhibition games, Gauthier displayed a consistent willingness to use his size to drive the net and battle in the dirty areas. His 27 goals in Charlotte last season (and 2 goals in 2 games this year) show the skill that he has to compliment his size.
While we could see Gauthier suit up against the Islanders on Friday or the Blue Jackets on Saturday, it seems guaranteed that he’ll see action out west. With 3 games in 4 days, all against physical opponents, the young winger’s style of play makes him a likely candidate to slide into the lineup. The question then becomes who sits.
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Warren Foegele is the obvious choice to be scratched. After shining in the playoffs, Foegele has picked up one assist through four games while sporting the lowest average ice time (10:49) of any Hurricanes forward. Where linemates Jordan Martinook and Brock McGinn have been noticeable on the forecheck, defensively, and on the penalty kill, Foegele has largely gone unnoticed. Yes, the season is still in its infancy, but, with higher expectations, the team has to be at their best every night.
The preseason indicated that he’s ready to take the next step in his development and it’s now in his hands to show it. Head coach Rod Brind’Amour has shown the tendency to ease rookies in, so expect Gauthier, when dressed, to see action on the fourth line. While his ice time will be limited, Martinook and McGinn make for good, complimentary linemates that should mesh with Gauthier’s skill set.
Conditioning and confidence are two huge factors for any NHL regular. According to the young winger, both are areas of personal strength.
This isn’t make-or-break time, but coming in while the team is both rolling along yet still not clicking at 100% could be the perfect storm for the Quebec native.
So, fellow Caniacs, what are your expectations for Gauthier during this call-up?