Not only is Carolina Hurricanes forward Chad LaRose a fan favorite, he's also a favorite of team management. And why not? He's a homegrown success story of the Peter Karmanos hockey family.
A Michigan native, LaRose played his junior hockey for the Karmanos owned Plymouth Whalers. He was never selected in the NHL Entry Draft so after three years with the Whalers, the organization signed him to a free agent deal.
LaRose played in the AHL and ECHL for a couple of years before finally sticking with the Canes during the 2005-06 season. He's known as a hard-working player and is very popular in the dressing room as well. General Manager Jim Rutherford recently called him, the "driving force" behind the team.
|2010 - Chad LaRose||82||16||15||31||-21||59||2||1||0||176|
|2009 - Chad LaRose||58||11||17||28||-2||24||0||1||0||138|
|2008 - Chad LaRose||81||19||12||31||6||35||0||2||0||171|
The Good: LaRose is a versatile player who can be inserted in a variety of different positions. After suffering through an injury plagued season in 2009-10, he played in all 82 games last year and raised his goal production a bit from the previous campaign as well. As stated above, he's a positive influence on his teammates and is very good in the room. He plays the role of agitator on the ice and can get under the skin of his opponents.
LaRose was relied upon to kill penalties regularly and was 9th on the team in average shorthanded ice time, (1:25). He also had 196 hits, good for 4rth best on the team. While his goal production dropped a touch from a couple of years ago, (from 19 to 16), his total of 31 points tied his previous career best of 31 points in 2008-09. He played a career high 16:03 of average TOI.
The Bad: LaRose had a team worst plus/minus of -21 indicating that his defensive play dropped off last season. He's a streaky scorer and can put points on the board in bunches when he is hot, but can have extended scoreless streaks at times as well. He also seemed to take a few bad penalties late in some games when perhaps he tried to do too much. His PIM's were up in general.
The Money: The forward is an unrestricted free agent this summer and can sign with any team after July 1. The last contract he signed was a two-year deal for $3.4 million, ($1.7 cap hit per year). One problem for LaRose is that, fair or not, he will be compared with Jussi Jokinen because they both signed for the exact same amount of money two years ago, but Jokinen blitzed him in production over that time frame. (Two years for LaRose G27 A32 P59 - two years for Jokinen G49 A68 P117). Obviously, Jokinen will be looking for a healthy raise this offseason while LaRose might get at least a small pay reduction.
What did you grade LaRose and why? Do you think the Hurricanes should re-sign him and if they do, for how much?