Sounds like the Carolina Hurricanes are still trying to figure things out in the wake of Jordan Staal’s broken leg.
Staal, who’ll be sidelined for the next 3-4 months, left a fairly sizable hole at center and now it’s up to first-year head coach Bill Peters to fill it — which, according to Peters, is a work in progress.
“Who we’re going to have in the middle, that’s the one thing we don’t know, just because we still have these (preseason) games left to play,” Peters explained, per the Raleigh News & Observer. “Get Victor Rask there, see how well he does. Obviously we want to get (Riley Nash) in there.
“We still don’t know who’s going to play in that two-hole. But this week will be good to figure that out.”
Regardless of who gets the promotion, it’s clear Carolina is going to push someone into a bigger role than originally anticipated. Rask, the club’s second-round pick at the 2011 Draft, has never played in the NHL but could open in the top-six forward group. Jay McClement, signed from Toronto in the offseason largely for his penalty killing and faceoff prowess, could end up being the No. 3 center by default.
Then there’s Riley Nash.
A former first round pick (21st overall by Edmonton in 2007), Nash enjoyed a breakout campaign last year, registering career highs across the board: 10 goals, 24 points and 73 games played. And although Nash only averaged 12:40 TOI per game, it sounds like Peters is ready to give him an extended workload; Nash has skated in the preseason on a line with talented wingers in Jeff Skinner and Elias Lindholm and could be primed for another bump in production.
Whatever the ‘Canes decide, they’ll have to do it quickly. The team has just three preseason games left before opening the regular season on Oct. 10 with a home date against the Isles.