Noah Hanifin stands as the sort of defensive prospect the Carolina Hurricanes badly need, but that doesn’t mean that they’ll use him right away.
For every 18-year-old blueliner who weathers the storm of an immediate NHL jump (see: Aaron Ekblad), there are plenty of young players who benefit from more seasoning before they play at the highest level. The Canes seem comfortable taking a patient approach with Hanifin, as the Charlotte News & Observer reports.
“We don’t want to force him in there if he’s not ready,” GM Ron Francis said. “We’ll give him time to develop. I’m certainly not ruling it out, but we want to be careful and make sure we do what’s right for Noah.”
Frankly, the slow-and-steady approach might be wise for both sides. Let’s ponder a few reasons why:
- Defensive prospects often take years to develop – Again, Ekblad is probably the exception to the rule.
- The Hurricanes are expected to be mediocre, at best – OK, there’s always the chance that a team might make a surprise turnaround, and there is indeed talent on this roster. Still, most would probably agree that Carolina is in a “transitional” period, and probably won’t make many preseason playoff prediction lists.
- Bang for the buck – People frequently forget that there are perils when it comes to “burning” years off of entry-level contracts. Why not take advantage of built-in cheaper years for Hanifin?
Those stand as some compelling reasons to allow Hanifin to marinate, but the Hurricanes must also consider the risk of stunting his growth at too low of a level if he is ready for the big time.
And, as you can see from this post, their defense could use all the help it can get heading into 2015-16.
The Carolina Hurricanes have just four defensemen signed with at least 100 games worth of NHL experience. That makes their blueline a major question mark going into training camp, but even as we near the end of July, there are still plenty of options out there for teams looking to bolster their defense.
For example, Christian Ehrhoff and Cody Franson are both still available on the open market. There’s also presumably cheaper options out there like Andrej Meszaros and Jan Hejda.
“There’s been some dialogue with some guys, but we’re still sitting and waiting to see where the numbers go,” Hurricanes GM Ron Francis told the News & Observer. “The guys we’ve talked about are not in a range we’d be comfortable with yet, so we’re keeping an eye on it. I’m not in a hurry to jump in.”
Francis added that as more arbitration eligible players either get judgments or otherwise sign, more players might be made available. Additionally, Jeff Skinner is still reportedly on the block, so Carolina might end up making a more substantial trade before the summer is done.
All that being said, Francis sees some appeal in maintaining the status quo.
“I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing to have a spot open going into camp,” Francis said. “It sends a good message to our younger guys.”
With James Wisniewski, Justin Faulk, John-Michael Liles, and Ron Hainsey all presumably locks to make the roster, that would leave 2015 fifth overall pick Noah Hanifin, Ryan Murphy, Danny Biega, Michal Jordan, Rasmus Rissanen, and Haydn Fleury to compete for the final three openings.
Alexander Semin stands as one of the most fascinating wild cards in NHL free agency, and it sounds like we’ll find out where he’ll land soon.
His agent Mark Gandler told Sovsport.ru that Semin should come to a decision soon. Here’s a translation of a rather saucy quote Gandler gave about Carolina Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters, via Hockey VIPs Magazine:
“[Semin’s] career can only go up,” Gandler said. “He is still young. His buyout was under unique circumstances and the (Hurricanes) coach did not understand Sasha’s game.”
As usual, the 31-year-old sniper’s strengths and weaknesses make him a pretty polarizing player. Granted, the “against” crowd is growing with each disappointing season, whether the letdowns come from injuries or a perceived lack of effort.
While his future destination and production stand as mysteries, it seems obvious that there are hard feelings between Semin and the Hurricanes.
Gandler took a swipe at Carolina’s head coach following GM Ron Francis’ comments about Semin’s lack of “compete level,” a criticism that’s been common throughout his career (fair or not). It’s been made repeatedly clear that the (once?) dangerous scorer doesn’t want to go to the KHL, so whenever his new team is revealed, drama-lovers are likely to circle his dates against the Hurricanes in 2015-16.
Related: Discuss possible destinations for Semin