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.
PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.
Tyler Seguin on the burning question in Dallas: is Patrick Sharp better looking than he is? (Dallas Morning News)
Former NHL-er (and Calder Trophy winner) Bryan Berard’s story keeps getting sadder. (National Post)
The case for signing Brad Boyes. (TSN)
Enjoy this spirited Q & A with NBC’s beloved Doc Emrick. (Sportsnet)
Update: Frederik Andersen still loves Legos. (The Hockey News)
What it was like for one fan/blogger falling in love with the Detroit Red Wings. (Winging It in Motown)
The AHL provided this handy guide of NHL affiliations, in case you’ve (understandably) had difficulty keeping track of the changes.
This seems like the perfect thing to stare at while you’re not really working on Friday morning.
The Pittsburgh Penguins took care of some business on Wednesday, signing Beau Bennett to a one-year deal and Dominik Simon to a three-year, entry-level contract.
Financial terms for Simon’s pact weren’t revealed, but the team shared the fact that Bennett’s contract is worth $800K in 2015-16.
Bennett (pictured) has dealt with a slew of injuries so far in his career. The 23-year-old set a career-high for games played with just 49 regular season contests in 2014-15, yet he was limited to 12 points. The Penguins are likely banking on better future results for the 20th pick of the 2010 NHL Draft.
Simon, 20, was selected 137th overall in the 2015 NHL Draft. The Penguins singled out his work at the 2015 World Championships:
Simon, the youngest player on the Czech team at the 2015 World Championships, was paired on a line with the team’s most senior member, former Penguin Jaromir Jagr. Simon finished that tournament with six points (1G-5A) in 10 games.
That’s not the only blast from the Penguins’ past, as he played for HC Plzen last season, a team owned by former Pen Martin Straka.
Boston hockey fans can be hard on big players who don’t play with an edge, according to former Bruins defenseman Hal Gill.
“I had my share of fights, but it was never good enough,” Gill, now retired, told WEEI.com. “[It was,] ‘You should have beaten up Tie Domi.’ It was unrealistic, but that’s what the Bruins fans want. That’s the Big Bad Bruins mantra. It can be tough at times.”
Gill made that remark while speaking about new Bruins winger Jimmy Hayes, the towering 25-year-old who had 147 hits, but just 20 PIM, in 72 games last season with Florida.
Hayes has only fought twice in 168 career NHL games.
While Gill believes Hayes will be fine if he stays “true to his game” and “doesn’t get caught up trying to please everyone,” he insists there’s a big difference between playing for Boston, which Gill did for over 600 games, and Montreal, which he did for almost 200 games.
“In Montreal, I was amazed,” he said. “When I was there, they would cheer because I made a nice poke check. They would say, ‘Wow, that was a great poke check.’ With the Bruins, you could play a great game defensively, but if you didn’t kill someone or you didn’t get a big goal, they can pile on you.”
Related: Sweeney vows to return ‘aggressiveness’ to Bruins
The unrestricted free agent market has slowed to a crawl, but there are still some noteworthy players left for the taking and they might end up with buyer-friendly contracts at this point.
Here’s a sampling of the most interesting names:
Cody Franson — His return to Nashville didn’t go as scripted, but he’s still a 27-year-old (28 in August) defenseman that recorded 33 and 36 points in each of his last two seasons. Agent Gerry Johannson felt back in June that Jeff Petry’s six-year, $33 million extension was in the right “ballpark” for Franson, but at this point it would be interesting to see if he would settle for a one-year contract in the hope of finding more favorable conditions with his next deal.
Alex Semin — He had just six goals and 19 points in 57 contests last season and Hurricanes GM Ron Francis cited his compete level as a reason for buying him out. Semin has had a wildly inconsistent career, but when he’s at his best, he’s a top-tier goal scorer. The fact that he’s reportedly interested in a one-year deal suggests that the risks involved in signing him will be managed. Under those conditions, he at least has the potential to provide any team with a significant boost.
Christian Ehrhoff — Concussion problems limited Ehrhoff to just 49 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins last season and that’s likely part of the reason he’s still on the open market. However, he has breached the 30-point mark six times and most recently in 2013-14. So perhaps his next one-year deal will go better than his last.
Marek Zidlicky — He’ll celebrate his 39th birthday in February, but he can still be a big contributor with the man advantage. In fact last season he was tied for 12th place among defensemen with 20 power-play points (34 overall).
Brad Boyes — He had a decent 14 goals and 38 points in 78 contests in 2014-15 with a Panthers team that didn’t do much offensively, but was nevertheless bought out. Although he’s unlikely to ever rise to the level he was at in 2007-2008 when he scored 43 goals, he’s still a decent secondary scorer and has traditionally be very effective in shootouts.
While Johnny Oduya is out there too, he’s expected to make his decision within the week. The Buffalo Sabres and Chicago Blackhawks are among his potential destinations.