Carolina Hurricanes: It Is Time to Show Off Roster Depth

The Carolina Hurricanes will be down several players on Thursday night and the depth of this roster will be called upon to produce.

For the first time in 10 days, the Carolina Hurricanes will take the ice against the Tampa Bay Lightning Thursday night at PNC Arena. The Canes will likely be without Teuvo Teravainen, Jaccob Slavin, Warren Foegele, Jesper Fast, and Jordan Martinook, who have all been put on the COVID-19 protocol list within the past week. Jordan Staal is expected to be back after serving his quarantine in Detroit (which sounds lonely).

Due to their absences, the Carolina Hurricanes will need to pull players from their taxi squad to fill their voids. The lines will look very different and star players like Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov will likely have linemates who have not played an NHL game with before. Let’s have a look at this team’s roster depth and who can step in.

Forwards

It will undoubtedly be difficult to fill the roles of the missing forwards. Teravainen’s playmaking ability will be sorely missed. The forechecking pressure of the likes of Foegele, Fast, and Martinook will cause other players to need to get in deep. The Canes kept lots of fringe players in training camp until the very end, and that could pay off in terms of comfortability and chemistry.

I expect Steven Lorentz to be a guy to step in and fill a role on the 3rd or 4th line. Lorentz, a 24-year old 2015 draft pick, is seeking his first action in the NHL. He has some offensive spark to him, and is an incredibly hard-working player, scoring 23 goals for the Charlotte Checkers last season. I would not be surprised to see him line up with a player like Jordan Staal to form a “checking” line. Rod Brind’Amour may also like to see him play with Sebastian Aho, similar to how he played him with a rookie Warren Foegele a couple years ago in hopes of getting some depth goal-scoring.

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Max McCormick is another guy I would not be surprised to see play Thursday night. Unlike Lorentz, McCormick has a little bit of NHL experience, playing 71 games over four seasons with the Ottawa Senators. He is a 4th-line player who isn’t afraid to drop the gloves. He also potted 16 goals in 56 games with the Checkers last season prior to the COVID stoppage.

As other candidates to step in short-term, I look at Drew Shore as a potential replacement as well. Shore has had played almost 100 games in the NHL with three teams, and could provide good experience to a young group.

Defense

Thankfully, Carolina did not suffer a lot in numbers on the defensive end, but in Jaccob Slavin, they do lose arguably the best they have. I can only see two players possibly replacing him.

Jake Bean is a player I’ve previously mentioned as a player to step in if one goes down. Canes fans have been waiting on Bean’s arrival for years, and this would be the perfect scenario for him to show his talent. An AHL-All star and Calder Cup champion, Bean has proved it in the minors and is ready for the next level. Thinking of him in a role with Brett Pesce is very intriguing.

The other player is Joakim Ryan. Ryan has played 141 games over the past three seasons with the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings, and would be an easy fill-in to the defensive group. He has some playoff experience as well, so I think his introduction would be pretty seamless.

I prefer Bean to Ryan based on the fact Bean has done his time in the AHL and has been someone us as Canes fans have waited on for years. It would be most appealing to see him join the group of six defending against the Stanley Cup champions on Thursday night.

Overall, I like the depth of this team and by playing Rod Brind’Amour’s preferred style, their entrance could be seamless. It won’t be easy against a team the caliber of Tampa Bay, but with the youth and talent this team has, I like our chances. There will be more COVID concerns in this shortened season, and these guys will be expected to play well.