Carolina v. Norfolk Round 2; Rats win 4 to 2. Samson, Osala, Bowman and friends

Albany beats Norfolk 4-2 March 6, 2010

   I watched the second meeting of Albany and Norfolk and had a number of reactions and observations. Albany dominated the game and won 4 to 2.  I watched the game without rewinding the video stream, so I didn't catch as much as I would on a second viewing.  Also,  the AHLlive archive is from the jumbotron, so the entire ice is not shown.  That view makes it harder to put an isocam on a particular player.

   Samson had an amazing game.  Not only did he score twice, but he was all over the ice.  He is improving every time I watch him.  He works very well with Osala.  Even when the Hurricanes were ahead by three goals,  Samson never let up at all.  He plays with an inner fury.  He is playing like somebody who will not be denied a roster spot for Carolina next season.  Samson has thirty goals for Albany and plays extremely well positionally, 

   Osala had two assists.  He has great hands and excellent speed.  I also think he has patience with the puck and doesn't treat the puck as if it is on fire and has to gotten rid of as soon as humanly possible.  One of the best things I've seen from Osala is that he seems to be thinking well ahead of the play and makes excellent passes.  Osala also seems to love attacking the net.  I will be surprised if he doesn't stick on the Hurricanes,  at least on the fourth line, when next season begins.

   McBain also played quite well.  He has improved dramatically over the course of the season.  I am impressed by McBain's acceleration and by his puck handling.  Rodney is getting stronger physically.  He makes some amazing passes.  Bowman is showing me more and more as well.  I knew he was a scorer,  but he is increasing his physical play as well.  Bowman is one of the best natural scorers I've seen.  He is one of those players who seems to take shots from crazy angles and yet the puck winds up right at the goal face. 

   Bellemore has also improved since the season began.  He seems more confident with the puck and is seldom out of position.  Borer had some excellent plays, but seems to be getting his hockey legs.  I have been impressed by Borer before his injuries; and really hope he can continue his progress. 

   I didn't know what to expect with regard to Pogge.  I had seen him play before and had read about him.  Pogge had an excellent game.  He made some game saving stops.  The first goal was a little weak; but he is using his size well and seems to be athletic in the way Peters is athletic.  I have a feeling that the Hurricanes will be able to work with him to have him develop into an NHL ready goalie.  In the end,  Pogge is likely to be traded because the Hurricanes are more likely to focus on Murphy even though Murphy does not have ideal size for an NHL goalie.  On the other hand,  that situation is likely to be a couple of years down the road.

   Dodge had a very solid game and seems to be in position all the time.  Terry had also had a solid game.  I have been enthusiastic about Pisilli's potential and he has made excellent strides from the start of the season.

    There was an interview during intermission (my recollection is that it was the second intermission)  with Jason Karmanos.  He stated that Sutter, Dwyer, and Carson were not considered members of the Hurricanes and would not be re-assigned to Albany for the playoffs.  He left often whether Boychuk would be reassigned to Albany for the playoffs.  I suspect Harrison may well be reassigned to Albany for the playoffs.

   Looking to next season,  I think Boychuk, Bowman, Samson, Osala,  McBain and/or Rodney will make the Hurricanes next season.  The issue is which players will they replace on the current roster.  With four new forwards,  there have to be three roster spots opened because Boychuk is already on the team.  I assume that prior to the draft, Jim Rutherford is going to make some trades. 

   Based soley on a one to one merits selection, without consideration of legacy issues,  I prefer what Bowman and Samson have to offer over Brind'Amour and Samsonov.  If Cole is traded or retires from injuries,  Osala would be my  pick.  I like Cole's speed, size, and strength. Cole does back down defenders and bangs bodies with the inside game.   I am underwhelmed with his offensive production this year.  I also wonder whether he can remain healthy.  Osala is like a bigger, more polished, and better offensively Cole.  He is also far less expensive. 

   I am guessing that Rodney will be given a chance to stick with Carolina this season and that McBain is going to be expected to need another year of seasoning.  I can tell McBain is hungry to get to Carolina and he may well make it to Carolina next season.

  Interestingly,  if the Hurricanes draft well, they will have at least one more roster player next season in their #1 draft choice.  I continue to want to see the #1 pick be a large, fast, scoring power foward to go with  Staal and Jokinen.  If that occurs,  Jim Rutherford will have some difficult decisions.  LaRose has been playing much, much better since returning from his injury; however, iit would seem that LaRose could be the odd man out next season.  If trades are not made prior to the draft, the trade deadline next season will be very, very interesting.  Certainly when one factors in the salary of Brind'Amour versus his productivity,  Samson or Dwyer seem a better return on investment.  Similarly, with regard to Samsonov and Bowman,  Bowman is bigger, faster, and has a better shot.  For the cost savings,  Bowman is a more cost effective choice.  With regard to Cole and Osala,  Cole may be faster, but Osala is bigger and is a better skater and has much better hands and a much better shot.  Considering Cole's cost,  Osala is a good choice. 

   If the #1 draft choice is NHL ready,  it is going to be hard for LaRose to beat out the #1 pick, Osala, Bowman, or Samson.  LaRose has been a survivor, so I wouldn't count him out; but he is facing stiff competition for a roster spot next season.  With LaRose's contract expiring next season,  he could be a player traded at the deadline.  On the other hand,  Dwyer is a player who could be the odd man out.  Dwyer has played extremely well and plays intelligently and intensely every shift.  From a cost savings standpoint,  Dwyer provides skill and energy at a very affordable price. 

   I think we are seeing since January the emergence of the new Hurricanes team.  My hunch is that the transformation will continue during the off-season and that there will be even more changes before the 2010-2011 season. 

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