Ron Francis has been busy as ever for the Hurricanes the last two days. After pulling off a robbery yesterday at the expense of the cap-tight Chicago Blackhawks, today Francis went about in-house business, resigning soon-to-be UFAs Derek Ryan and Cam Ward to short deals, keeping them in the Canes organization moving forward. Bare with me as we go over what these moves mean for the Canes.
Teuvo Teravainen: I’m not too sure how many Canes fans have heard the name Teuvo Teravainen before, but he’s a guy I’ve known about for a long time. Flashback to the 2012 Draft, the Canes owned the 8th pick. As Ron Francis said yesterday, Canes scouts absolutely loved TT and he was definitely in the conversation to be the player the Canes would select before the pick was traded to Pittsburgh in the Jordan Staal deal. Teuvo was the guy I wanted. You might be asking yourself “well who cares who Alex Ohari wanted?” but hear this, he then slipped to Chicago at #18 where they were stunned to get him. At the WJC the next year, Teravainen captained Finland and scored 15 points in 7 games, proving to scouts he was overlooked and unfairly skipped over multiple times in the draft. He broke out in the 2015 playoffs with Chicago by scoring 4 goals and 6 assists in 18 games, raising expectations to new heights heading into the 2016 season. Teravainen never really got comfortable, with Chicago adding Artem Anisimov, Artemi Panarin and Andrew Ladd into their lineup throughout the year, relegating Teravainen to the bottom-6 with linemates such as Andrew Desjardins and Phillip Danault. Teravainen still managed a very respectable 35 points in 78 games despite playing very little on the powerplay. In Carolina, Teravainen won’t be stuck behind such highly-billed players, and should jump right into a top-6 role, potentially on the wing flanking the duo of Victor Rask and Jeff Skinner. To expect 50-60 points out of Teravainen wouldn’t be unrealistic, and with top-6 minutes he should thrive for the Hurricanes and blossom into a very competant top-6 forward. I think when the Canes look back on the Teravainen deal in 5-10 years it’ll be looked upon as a complete robbery. Terrific add for the team.
Cam Ward: Resigning Cam Ward at a respectable 3.3 million cap hit for next season stabilizes the unstable crease the Canes have had over the last few years. Ward and Lack we’re, if not a bit underwhelming, pretty solid for the Canes in the 2015-16 season and gave the team chances to win games, for the most part. Obviously, improvement is necessary on their respective sub-.910 save%’s, but Ward is better than any FA option available so to keep firmiliarity in the Canes locker room and in the crease is a win for the Hurricanes, as Ward is the lone player remaining from the 2006 Cup winning team and is very well respected in the Canes organization. Keeping the Lack-Ward duo intact will also give highly-touted Alex Nedeljkovic time to develop in the AHL.
Adding Teuvo Teravainen and Bryan Bickell to the mix fills 2 big holes in the Canes forward lineup, and the return of Andrej Nestrasil and addition of young phenom Sebastian Aho has the Canes pretty stocked up front. At the request of various Canes fans, here’s a projected depth chart for the Canes 2016-17 opener:
There will be a lot of competition up front for the last couple openings, and in my opinion Brock McGinn has a great chance to win a bottom-6 spot. Guys like Aleksi Saarela, Sergey Tolchinsky, Nic Roy, Valentin Zykov and Lucas Wallmark will all try to prove they belong but their style of play is better suited for the top-9 so they are more likely to start in the AHL where they’ll be given lots of ice time to work on their game. Haydn Fleury and Roland McKeown will come to camp as victims of a numbers game and start their pro careers with Charlotte as well. Nedeljkovic likely takes over the Charlotte crease. Derek Ryan, Brody Sutter, and Brendan Woods all played games for the Canes last season and will try to prove they’re deserving of 4th line spots. Lots and lots of competition.
Also needed to be taken into consideration is the cap space the Hurricanes currently have – some of which will be taken care of with new deals for RFAs Victor Rask and Ryan Murphy, which may get the Canes to the cap floor. However, I’d be shocked if the Canes try to add a high-price FA due to the upcoming RFA status of guys like Elias Lindholm, Teuvo Teravainen and the 3 young defenseman who will all be in line for substantial raises within the next couple of years.
Another factor the Canes have is they own 6 of the first 75 picks in the 2016 draft, including the 13th pick and the 21st pick acquired from LA. The Canes may feel its a good idea to explore trade options with those draft picks after adding a player of Teravainen’s calibre for virtually nothing in the big picture. Based on the moves he’s done, I more than trust Francis with whatever route he decides to take. Regardless, the Canes will be in position to add young talent to their already stocked prospect group, and/or already established talent that can help us compete immediately.
Taking all of this into consideration, I can’t say that I’ve been more excited for the Canes season to get rolling in a long, long time. All the potential possibilities of the draft and training camp should have Canes fans more riled up then ever heading into the 2016-17 season. Ron Francis promised a process the right way 2 years ago when he took over as GM, and since then the Canes have graduated from one of the weakest prospect pools and rosters to a very respectable up-and-coming skilled team, with a great coach in Bill Peters and alot for Canes fans to get excited about. Its what we Canes fans deserve after being subjected to such mediocrity the last 10 years, but the ship has officially left the dock and is gaining speed, quickly. The Canes are in the best position to be competitive in a long while and, dare I say, definitely have a chance to extend their season past 82 games. It’s been a long ride of suffering for myself and other Caniacs but, the reward is finally taking shape and I couldn’t be more ecstatic about it. Bring on October!
written by Alex Ohari of weliveforhockey.com