With the first "true" home game now upon us, I thought I might give my observations of each player so far this season. The Canes have done better than I expected. I thought they would win 1 of 2 in Finland and pull out 1 win on the Canada/West Coast trip. We have had our ups and downs as expected, but overall the Canes are in a good position. Here are my individual observations of each player; feel free to disagree and post your own.
Staal - I think Staal has really played a solid all-around game so far this season. His work ethic seems to be better and he is attempting to be more of a playmaker so far. His faceoff percentage is absolutely horrible and is something he needs to desperately work on. I would also like to see a little more consistency out of him in regards to point production. While he is tied for the team lead in points, all of his points have come in 3 out of 7 games. I would probably give him a B or B- so far this season.
Jokinen - Jussi has seemed a little Jekyll & Hyde to me so far this year. He played very well in Finland, but then went into a little funk or something. He is tied for the team lead in points and assists, but I think he could do better. He has played a little bit better the past 2 games, so I hope he is getting over his home country hangover and we will again see the Jussi of last season. I would probably give him a B- or C+ for the season so far.
LaRose - I thought Chad looked completely overmatched to start the season. I was calling for him to be moved to the 3rd or 4th line. Then he flipped a switch and is playing excellent Chad LaRose hockey. He is flying around pestering opponents, stealing pucks, and playing very agressive on the penalty kill. I would probably say he is one of top 5 performers so far this season. I would probably give him a B+ or A- so far this year.
Ruutu - Something just doesn't seem right with Ruutu's game. He only has 2 points on the season and he is not being the physical force he has been in the past. Maybe it is something to do with his shoulder or maybe its partly due to the switch to center, but something is not right. I would like to see him get back to the physical forechecking game that made us all love Ru. I would probably give him a C or C- early on this season.
Skinner - What can I say that already hasn't been said about this kid? Skinner really has the look of being a special type of player. He is working hard, showing off his creativity, and putting up points as an 18 year old. The only thing I would change about his game right now is that I would like to see him shoot more often. I know the kid is not afraid of going to the net despite his size, but he is getting creamed out there. He can still drive to the net, but take a few shots from 10 to 15 feet out! I would probably give him an A or A- so far.
Cole - Cole is playing the way he did when he first returned to the Canes from Edmonton. He is skating hard and fast, helping mentor young Skinner, and is just playing a very good overall game. He is even trying something other than his patent move. He is creating space for himself and others and you can't ask for more. Wait, I could ask that he convert at least 20% of his breakaway chances! If he could finish, Cole would potentially have 4 or 5 goals on the season. I would probably give him a A- or B+ for the season he's put together so far.
Sutter - The kid started with a bang, 2 goals in the first game; then he got banged up in Vancouver. Overall, he has played solidly, but not necessarily up to his standards. The kid is a monster in front of the net, but the undisclosed injury really seemed to effect his game. He looked better in his last game, but I hope these 3 days off will help him recover and get back to his normal self. He also needs to improve in the faceoff circle, as he and Staal are both hovering around 34%. I would probably give him a C or C+ so far.
Kostopoulos - He's not exactly playing lights out, but he's never really been expect to. He is a team player, willing to do whatever is needed. He took faceoffs the last game and has moved up to the 3rd line to help Sutter on the "checking line." TK has 1 assist and a -2 rating so far. I really don't expect him to put up much points at all, but I am hoping for a closer Even rating from him. His main job is contributing on the PK and our PK is not exactly good right now. He works hard, but I can't say much good or bad about TK. I would probably give him a C or C- so far on the season.
O'Sullivan - POS has been healthy scratched for 2 games now and could possibly be sent down at some time. I think POS has played a pretty good game so far for the Canes. He was regulated to 4th line duties early on, but got moved up to the 3rd line with Sutter and scored a goal. He appears to be trying to be more defensively responsible and I hope the guy gets a chance to succeed. 1 point in 5 games isn't going to wow anybody, but I think he's played solid for the limited amount of ice time he's received. I would probably give him a C+ or C through limited action so far.
Samsonov - Sammy has been fighting off a preseason injury and has only played 3 games thus far. But he does have 2 goals in only 3 games and 3 shots. He brings a good skill set when he's on the ice, but I wouldn't say he's been great. The last game in Phoenix was his best by far and I hope he's shaking off the Buf hit in Atlanta. He has a way of performing pretty well in contract years, so maybe he can continue scoring. I would probably give him a B or B+ in the short amount of time he has seen so far.
Dalpe - I really like this kid and wish he would be played on a higher line at least 1 game before being sent down. That being said, the 4th line for the Canes is playing pretty well. Dalpe has an assist from the game in Finland and also has an Even rating. He plays bigger than I expected and shows a lot of energy. He has made some mistakes, but I kind of expect that from a rookie. He's only getting about 7 minutes a night, so he hasn't had too much opportunity to show off his abilities. I expect that he will probably be sent down once Tlusty returns and that might not be a bad thing, because he needs some ice time. I would probably give him a B or B- so far this year, but I expect big things from this guy in the future.
Bowman - This kid has really surprised me so far. I expected him to become a solid 3rd line winger for the Canes in the future, but I think he could do that role know if needed. He is probably our most physical forward this season; if he could only get his rocket shot going! IMO, this kid needs to stay up. I think he could play on the 4th line and fill in where needed if an in-game injury occurs. He was a very good find in the 3rd round for JR. I would probably give him a B+ or A- for the season so far.
Dwyer - This guy is Chad LaRose Jr. Most people overlooked him before the season started because of all the young skill the Canes had. Dwyer has responded and has shown that he belongs in the NHL. 2 goals and 3 points, effective on the PK, and he can play almost anywhere in the lineup. He is the 4th line player that almost every NHL team needs. I would probably give him a B+ or A- so far on the season.
Pitkanen - Pits started out playing well under his potential, to the point of being bad. But over the past couple of games, his game seems to be rounding into form. He is our best playmaker and we need him to play that way. He's currently 3rd in regards to points on the team and of course is leading in TOI. If he can find a solid playing partner and continue his game from the past 2 or 3 games, he will again be among the team points leaders. I believe Joni is vital to the Canes play; if he is playing well, making good quality passes, the team is much more dangerous. I would probably give him a B- or C+ during the early going.
Corvo - I don't know what Washington did to him, but he is not the same player anymore. Corvo has always had a confidence issue and right now his confidence is low, along with his game. He is tied with Jussi for the worst +/- rating on the team and his shot seems uneffective. Yeah he has 3 assists on the year, but I really can't remember a great play he has made this season. He seems to be out of position a lot and always chasing the puck. The Canes won't do it, but I think he should sit for a game and collect himself. For some reason, whatever partner he plays with looks worse because of it. I would probably give him a D or D- for his play so far.
Gleason - Who is this guy and what has he done with Timmy? Seriously, Timmy has not played horribly, but he hasn't played his game either. He's not hitting people like I remember him doing and his positioning hasn't been great. The PK has been his best showing for me this young season. Maybe some or most of this is a result of Corvo's poor play? Maybe some is due to Timmy putting so much pressure on himself? The defense is really offensive heavy and maybe that is curtailing the way Timmy plays, because he knows he MUST stay on the ice. Hopefully he will relive last year's Washington game and bring his game up to that level! I would probably give him a C or C+ for the year so far.
Babchuk - I don't get this guy and stats. I watch him play and think he is an average or below average defenseman. But look at the stats and he's got 2 goals, 2assists, and a +3 through 7 games. Babs has made some plays and he has also made some mistakes. He needs to be more diligent when he pinches, but its hard to argue with success. He is booming his shot when he gets an opportunity, but please hit the freakin' net! Maybe I'm just not a big fan of his, but based on everything I've seen I would probably give him a B- or B so far this season.
McBain - This kid sure had a lot of pressure on him going into the year and it has shown. He's looking a little over his head right now and he's not even getting his shot off. He has made a few very good passes and very good plays, but I was hoping to see a true top 4 defenseman. Maybe he is just a slow starter or has a little confidence issue himself? I just hope to see a glimmer of the player that was so good down the stretch last season. I would probably give him a C- or C based on the season so far.
Harrison - Mo's adopted son has been a huge surprise to me in the early going. He's a +1 and seems to be very solid in his end of the ice. For as much crap as I gave him and the organization this offseason & preseason; I'm sorry as of right now. If he continues to play like this, he is a solid 6th defenseman. Keep it up! Based on my expectations I would give Harrison an A+, but based on just play I would give him a B or B- for his play so far.
Ward - I think Cam has been great so far this season. He has been left out to dry by the defense on multiple occasions and has kept us in every game except for Vancouver. His GAA isn't great, but his SV% is the best of his career so far, and he is seeing almost 7 more shots a game than the highest shots per game average. If he plays the way he is, the Canes are going to have a chance at the playoffs. I really think he is one of the top 3 goalies in the league right now. I would give him an A or A+ for his play so far.
Peters - He's only gotten in 1 game and he did give up 4 goals, but I think it was a solid effort. If Cam continues to play the way he has, Peters will not be seeing much action. Peters needs to be able to shake the rust and put up a good effort when he gets a chance. He also always needs to be ready to come in. Backs are funny things and one weird move can give the starting job to Peters for an extended time. I would give him a B- or C+ for his one and only outing so far.
Well, there you go for the people that actually had time to waste reading these opinions. Have fun commenting or disagreeing with me. Again, please feel free to share your thoughts.