The Carolina Hurricanes will face off against the New York Rangers
As the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Rangers are set to face off against one another in the NHL’s play-in rounds as many as six players could possibly play against their former team.
When the Carolina Hurricanes face off against the New York in the play in rounds there will be four familiar faces wearing Rangers’ blue. Had this series taken place just this past season, all would have been wearing Canes’ red instead.
Now this isn’t unusual to see, as players switch teams all the time, but the amount of transactions between these two divisional rivals sets up for an interesting matchup in more ways than one.
I won’t go into to detail on Brady Skjei facing the Rangers for the first time as it was looked at in detail here, but he makes up one of two Hurricanes’ defenders who are set to play against their former team.
Picked up in a midseason prospect swap with New York, Joey Keane is a guy whose name has been thrown out as a possible “Black Ace” for Carolina. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, the NHL is expected to allow teams to carry a few extra skaters on an expanded roster. These players have been dubbed “Black Aces” and are essentially the same thing as call ups.
Unlike an ordinary call up however, they will join their teams in whichever host city from the start and will follow the same procedures and protocol. In doing this, teams will have the option and ability to replace someone in the lineup should and injury or general lineup change occur.
Although not expected to actually play, it would be an interesting storyline to follow if he made his NHL debut in the play in rounds against his former team. Traded in exchange for Julien Gauthier, it would be almost poetic, as Gauthier made his Ranger’s debut at PNC Arena against the Hurricanes just days after being acquired.
Speaking of Gauthier, he is one of three former Canes forwards who likely will make up the Rangers’ fourth line. Joining him are Phil Di Giuseppe and Greg McKegg, who were both a part of the Hurricanes’ organization last season.
Gauthier probably had the biggest fan reaction when he departed. The only one out of the trio to be traded, a lot of fans were hoping that he would have stuck around and gotten a shot at a full time roster spot after a strong postseason.
Only briefly appearing in five games with Carolina, it became evident that the former first-rounder didn’t have much of a future in Raleigh. Earning a lone assist in his handful of games, management felt, although he’s been a strong power forward with a nose for the net in Charlotte, there’s a few too many holes in his game to be an impactful player at the NHL level.
Shipped off to New York he seemed pleased to finally get a legit shot at sticking with a big club. Appearing in 12 games with the Rangers since the trade, he has recorded just two assist.
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Still searching for his first NHL goal he will be a guy who will be interesting to watch throughout the series. With a chip on his shoulder he will be looking to not only make a name for himself with his new team, but to prove the Hurricanes wrong in giving up on him too soon.
Centering the fourth line, Greg McKegg split this past season between the Hurricanes and Checkers. Playing in a depth role he managed to record 11 points in 41 games with Carolina during the regular season. In the playoffs, he appeared in 14 games, finding the back of the net twice.
Although his tenure in Carolina was brief, he was quickly becoming a fan favorite before opting to sign with New York in free agency.
It appears as if he has finally managed to stick in the NHL for an entire season. Appearing in 53 games for the Blue Shirts, his offensive production is a bit down from his time as a Hurricane.
Lastly, rounding out the group, Di Giuseppe was a former second-round pick by Carolina who spent almost a decade with the organization. Drafted back in 2012, he was a bit of a yo-yo player, spending a fair amount of time with both the Checkers and the Hurricanes.
Over his four year NHL career, he appeared in 147 games with the Canes netting 41 points (14 goals and 27 assists). Placed on waivers after 21 games last season, he was claimed by the Nashville Predators. Only suiting up for three games with the Preds, he finished the year in the AHL.
Signing a two way deal with New York in the offseason he, yet again, has split the season between the NHL and AHL. With a few guys expected to be out of the line up, at least to start the series, he will likely find himself slotted on the fourth line, rounding out an all Canes line.
On defense, although not technically ever appearing in a game with the Hurricanes, Adam Fox will be another interesting player to watch.
After refusing to sign with any team not named the New York Rangers, his wish was granted when the Canes dealt his rights to Broadway in exchange for two second-round picks this past summer. Inking a deal with his childhood team, he has had a solid rookie season.
With 42 points (8 goals and 34 assists) in 70 games he is a key piece of the Rangers blue line. With three points in four games against the Hurricanes already in his career he is going to be a guy Carolina will need to keep a close eye on throughout the series.
Question for CC readers: Which player do you think will have the biggest impact against his former team?