The injuries started to pile up a few weeks ago for the Carolina Hurricanes, but the coming weeks should provide some welcome returns and debuts.
Frederik Andersen has continued to progress and will get closer and closer as we approach the new year.
But the closest to returning is Teuvo Teravainen. Teravainen traveled with the team on the current six-game road trip. It is uncertain whether he will return but is surely close enough to factor into December games.
With the evident return to the lineup for Teravainen, where does he fit back into the lineup? And who takes a seat?
Jesperi Kotkaniemi Struggles
When Don Waddell made the decision to bring Jesperi Kotkaniemi to Carolina in a bold fashion, he would never have anticipated the current production level of the 22-year-old forward.
Kotkaniemi has just 5 points in all 23 games this season.
Granted this is a young player still finding his identity in the NHL and with the Hurricanes, but at some point, things need to turn around as this team is a contender.
Struggling is never fun and certainly leads to other mistakes as the player is looking to produce immediately.
With that said, Kotkaniemi has taken some bad penalties and has had little confidence with the puck which has led to turnovers or missed opportunities.
The high AAV for Kotkaniemi puts extreme pressure on the situation as well.
This is a team that is close to the salary cap ceiling and could use every bit of cap relief to strengthen the squad for a deeper playoff run than last season.
The call-up of Jack Drury in November has given the youngster a chance to get more comfortable at the NHL level. Having said that, Drury is ready for more opportunities to show his offensive capabilities.
The return of Teravainen will need to knock a forward out of the lineup and it is a good chance for Rod Brind’Amour to send a message to the Kotkaniemi.
It is a win-win situation as Kotkaniemi would have a breather and get a chance to evaluate the game from up in the box.
On the other hand, it gives Drury a chance to excel at this level and reach some expectations since being drafted and succeeding at the AHL level.