Carolina Hurricanes: Depth can Get Ice Time

Carolina Hurricanes center Ryan Suzuki (61) (Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Carolina Hurricanes center Ryan Suzuki (61) (Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

The Carolina Hurricanes are taking a deep roster to Toronto

As the Carolina Hurricanes enter training camp to prepare for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, here are ways that new additions to the roster could see ice time.

Training camp has begun, and the Canes seem to be as fresh as they can be after an extended break from hockey.  Head Coach Rod Brind’Amour called today’s practice “one of our better practices we’ve had all year”. Captain Jordan Staal said that “It’s right into a do-or-die situation,” . . . We’ll definitely have some urgency.”

As I sat down to write this article, I read the tweet from Sara Civian, the Canes reporter for The Athletic, that Forward Martin Nečas was absent from camp today.  Interestingly enough, I sat down to talk about the Canes’ roster depth for the playoffs and ways that new additions could see ice time during the playoffs.

While Nečas’ absence could be for one day only, Caniacs won’t know due to the NHL rule that information on player absences will not be discussed.  However, this gives fans an idea of how quickly lines could change in the playoffs, giving players meant to provide a safe depth to the roster the chance to complete some serious minutes on the ice.

The playoff roster has been stacked with seven additional players outside of the normal line up: Morgan Geekie, Sten Lorentz, Max McCormick, Ryan Suzuki, Jake Bean, Anton Forsberg, and Alex Nedeljkovic.

Some fans will immediately recognize some names, such as Morgan Geekie who debuted on the roster recently, and Alex Nedeljkovic who minded the net in the absence of the injured James Reimer and Petr Mrazek.

Training camp today saw changes in two lines in the absence of Nečas: Nino NiederreiterVincent Trocheck, Ryan Dzingel formed one new line, and Warren Foegele, Jordan Martinook, and Morgan Geekie made up the second line.

As a quick disclaimer, I do not consider these lines gospel. In fact, they could change well before the playoffs, as early as tomorrow’s day at training camp. However, they do present interesting possibilities of the changes that fans should be prepared for during the playoffs.

The first three games of the Qualifying Round Series against the New York Rangers are scheduled for August 1st, August 3rd, and August 4th. The first scenario that could produce line changes, aside from an injury situation, is the scheduled back to back games. I believe Brind’Amour will take advantage of the roster depth to relieve some players who are eating minutes.

The top name for Brind’Amour among the forwards to utilize may very well be Morgan Geekie.  Geekie quickly became a household name among Caniacs as he left two games with four points. Geekie has experience, albeit limited, that will be valuable in the playoffs.

Additionally, Geekie was paired with Foegele and Martinook in the place of Ryan Dzingel during the regular season. On paper, Dzingel has struggled this season to produce points like did in the past with the Ottowa Senators. I don’t think Geekie would be a permanent replacement for Dzingel, but fans should consider Brind’Amour choosing to give Geekie another try at a hot streak.

As far as the other forwards are concerned, I’m not sure how much potential I see that they will see significant ice time. In an interview on July 11, Carolina Hurricanes’ President and General Manager Don Waddell offered thoughts about prospect Ryan Suzuki’s addition to the playoff roster:

“Any time you can be around your coaches and strength coach and all that, we always talk about teaching young players to be a pro. Being around the big guys for this last period of time has been really good for his development.”

Waddell’s statement, taken at face value, appears to mean that players like Suzuki were primarily added to the roster to prepare them to join the roster permanently in the future by learning the system and interacting with the coaching staff.  I don’t see someone like Suzuki eating big minutes on the ice because of this fact, although every fan will enjoy seeing these future stars on the ice.

The only addition to the defensive roster is Jake Bean. Caniacs have often discussed the young defenseman at length, and many (including myself) thought that he would see some minutes when Brett Pesce was injured, as well as Sami Vatanen and Dougie Hamilton.

I think Bean has a much closer trajectory to a starting position than fans may realize. If  Trevor van Riemsdyk or Joel Edmundson do not sign a contract for the 2020-2021 season, Bean may find a permanent spot on the roster. For this reason, I will not hesitate to say that I expect Bean to see some serious time on the ice.

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Even if back to back games or injury do not prompt his playoff debut, I think it would be wise of Brind’Amour to give Bean a chance to prove himself on the roster. A playoff debut will not only give Bean a taste of the unique atmosphere that playoff season demands, but it will also give Brind’Amour an idea of where he will fit best.

The final player on the list that fans may expect to see on the ice is Alex Nedeljkovic.  Reimer and Mrazek were both injured at the same time during the regular season, and Nedeljikovic played four games in their absence. As I truly believe he is the Canes’ netminder post-Reimer and Mrazek, I think it would be wise to give him some ice team in the right scenario.

I don’t know what to expect from this year’s playoffs without fans within hub cities, and as different as they may look, the Carolina Hurricanes are bringing a roster full of depth that may be among their best rosters of all time. I hope to see the new additions experience some time on the ice and show fans what the near future may look like.

Question for CC Readers: Which new roster addition would you like to see log serious playoff minutes? 

Next. Carolina Hurricanes: Takeaways from Day 1 of Training Camp. dark