On the opening of free agency, we usually see money thrown around left and right at anyone and everyone. Today, the Hurricanes were relatively quiet on that front. However, that did not stop them from adding a former Anaheim Duck, Boston Bruin, Toronto Maple Leaf and long-time target of the front office all rolled into one. That man is Czech winger Ondrej Kase.
Kase has been a long-time target of the Carolina Hurricanes. If you go back far enough, you’ll find that there was once a trade that fell through between the Hurricanes and Ducks for Kase when the deal was leaked to the media. Then Ducks GM Bob Murray is said to have withdrawn from trade discussions when the media discovered the deal. To show you how long ago it was, it was meant to be Kase + for Justin Faulk.
Ondrej Kase is a fantastic player. At just 26 years of age, he’s still young enough to keep improving and get back to his career highs. His best hockey may yet still be in front of him and that is a positive. With a career-high of 19 goals in a year, he’s roughly a half-a-point a game player. While that isn’t to write home about, he does it while maintaining status as one of the best two-way players in the sport.
Kase can play in all situations, throughout the lineup. He’s the ultimate Swiss Army Knife, and his deployment is likely going to reflect that. Whatever you need him to do, he can do. Defending a lead, Kase is one of the best even-strength defensive forwards in hockey. Attacking the net? Kase’s not a superstar forward but he knows how to get the puck in the net.
Kase’s Achilles heel is his head. We know that he has a long history of concussions and they have seemed to have relinquished their grip on him for now, but that is scary. Not just from a hockey standpoint, but you do not want anyone suffering from long-term brain damage or worse because of a game. It’s a risk-reward game with Kase. Low risk, high reward. If he stays healthy, he’s a great player.