The Carolina Hurricanes have depth on both offense and defense.
With depth throughout the roster, Ryan Dzingel is stuck waiting in the wing, itching to get back into the lineup for the Carolina Hurricanes.
Finding himself healthy scratched in the first two games of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers, it appears as if Ryan Dzingel is officially the Haydn Fleury of forwards when it comes to Rod Brind’amour. While Fleury appears to have finally managed to gain some of the coaching staff’s trust with strong defensive and physical play, the same can’t be said of Dzingel.
When he signed a two year seven million dollar deal as a UFA this past summer many believed that he was going to be a solid depth piece to the lineup but after a bit of an up and down season, it appears as if Rod has a different idea.
With the amount of depth this current Canes team has you knew some difficult decisions were coming. Although you can’t argue with the results of the first two games, I can’t help but wonder what Dzingel has to do to earn his way back into the lineup.
Coming off back to back 20+ goal, 40+ point campaigns I was among those who thought he was going to be a fixture in the top nine. After injuries, healthy scratches and a shorten season he only managed to put up 29 points (8 goals, 21 assists) in 64 games.
While that roughly translates to .45 points per game, decent production for a depth guy, it was well off the mark from what he’s managed to do fairly constantly in his previous four seasons in the NHL. In fact, his eight goals were his lowest single-season total since his rookie year in which he only appeared in 30 games.
A lot of that can be contributed to bad puck luck, as his shooting percentage, this season was well off of his career average of 14.4. If you adjust his 8.2 shooting percentage this year up to his average his goal total jumps to 14 in the shortened season or 20 over a full 82 game schedule. If he had hit the 20 goal mark you’d think he would be in the lineup for games one and two.
Starting the year on fire playing on a line with Erik Haula and Martin Necas he amassed eight points through the first ten games. Although he never really managed to get back on track after that hot start, you’d think he would be among the best bounce-back candidates in the entire league for the restart.
In training camp, all the time off looked to have helped him hit that much-needed reset button. After multiple practices where he couldn’t stop scoring and a decent showing against the Caps in exhibition play, I felt like he was going to be among the top scorers in the Rangers series. However, it may end up being over before he even gets a sniff in.
I stand by what I said about him being a key contributor during these playoffs and know that he is itching to get into game action. A huge team-first guy he is willing to do whatever it takes to win, including wanting to put on the goalie pads income in relief in the Dave Ayres game.
I know Brind’amour stated that we’ll see him at some point and that he doesn’t want guys sitting out long, but at this point, with everyone clicking, it is hard to pinpoint a guy who should come out of the lineup and be replaced with Ryan.
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If this trend continues, he could continue to find himself out of the lineup. At the same time, should Morgan Geekie continue to play well and improve, he could also find himself as the 13th forward or traded bait this upcoming offseason.
Should the Canes move on from Dzingel it will be the second consecutive year in which they trade away a guy shortly after signing them as a UFA. Although it is the business side of the sport and about fit and icing the best team for your system, it is a trend you don’t want to see the start.
Like I said briefly before, he is more than likely going to bounce back. I highly doubt that he’ll continue to have a shooting percentage as low as it was this year and it was more than likely a result of learning and adjusting both on and off the ice to a new team and system.
With only a year left on his deal, he would be an attractive trade target for teams looking for cheap depth. While not that desperate for cap space, moving him would create a bit more wiggle room for Don Waddell and Co. to possibly work with. I know I’d hate to see him go I can understand the move if it comes to that point.
Hopefully, sooner rather than later, he will get his chance. Whenever it comes, he knows he is going to have to play to his strengths, use his speed, and contribute to stay in the lineup. With his lowest time on ice average per game since 15-16, he’ll have to make the best of his limited chances and take full advantage of his second unit power playtime.
Question for CC readers: When do you see Dzingel back in the lineup and how do you think he will perform?