How long can they stay? When will they have to leave? Those are the questions most of the Carolina Hurricanes prospects have to be asking themselves. Four of them got their answers last night and were re-assigned to their respective junior teams. Drayson Bowman, Justin McCrae, Harrison Reed, and Chris Terry will all be leaving town today. The junior leagues open their season on Friday night, so these players will be welcomed back home with open arms. The player that stood out the most from this group was Bowman. That kid has some slick moves and a nasty shot. If he can continue to improve his physical conditioning, I think that the sky is the limit for Drayson. We'll have to keep an eye on what he does for Spokane this season.
The only juniors eligible player still in camp is Brandon Sutter. He'll probably be staying until the pre-season is over, and maybe even a bit longer than that! After a somewhat slow start, Brandon is looking better and better out there. Even though he has yet to score a goal in an exhibition game or the scrimmages, he still has shown great hockey sense and has made several very good plays. For instance, last night he picked Glen Wesley's pocket cleanly. After stealing the puck, he moved in for a shot but it was stopped. If he continues to make plays like that, no doubt the points will come. While Sutter has picked up his play, it's still a long shot that he will make the team this year. Let's face it, there just are not many, (if any) roster spots available to anyone, no matter how good they are. I think that management is keeping Brandon here so he can learn as much about the NHL experience as he can. There's no doubt in anyone's mind that he will be playing in Raleigh eventually. The News and Observer has a nice article about Brandon in today's edition, "Sutter Sticks for Now".
Last night's scrimmage was another highly entertaining one. The intensity was high, as it should be. There was a lot of hitting, and a couple of team-mates even dropped their gloves to settle things, (and of course practice their pugilistic skills). Tim Conboy and Kirk MacDonald had the altercation after they got tangled up along the boards. A few players have taken exception to MacDonald's hard hitting, which has been a bit high at times. Tim Gleason gave him a "death stare" on Tuesday night after Kirk just missed him up high along the boards. To the kid's credit though, he did continue to work hard last night even after the fight and ended up getting a goal. Conboy and MacDonald will probably be sticking up for each other like brothers, once they reach Albany and get a few games under their belts together. The video of last night's highlights, including the fight, is included on this page along with other information about the scrimmage.
Last night was the first time that I have had a chance to see Jeff Hamilton up close and personal and he looks great! He's a small dude, but he's fast and has more moves than a jitterbug. He scored on a slapshot that went into and out of the net so fast, most people missed it. You can barely even see what happened on the video. His acquisition looks to be another good pick up for Jim Rutherford. Ray Whitney had one beautiful move where he undressed 3 players and then deked out the goalie for a goal which was a thing of beauty!Â The rest of the regulars looked good out there. Andrew Ladd was skating well, but his timing is a bit off I think. In my opinion, Michael Leighton out-played John Grahame again. He has certainly allowed fewer goals than Johnny so far this pre-season. One funny thing happened. Near the end of the game, the white team pulled their goalie and there was a face off at center ice. Rod Brind'Amour won it cleanly, but sent the puck right back into his own net. There were a few smiles on the bench and in ths stands behind the bench, (several players were watching the scrimmage, who weren't dressed for action). The Captain was not very amused though, and no one dared to laugh out loud.
Before I sign off for now, I wanted to give some credit to another News and Observer reporter who is doing an excellent job. I keep referring to "Lord Stanley's Blog" as "Luke DeCock's Blog", or "Luke's Blog", but another writer, Lorenzo Perez has been making contributions to the blog as well. Perez has also been writing some feature stories about the Canes. I actually noticed this quite some time ago, and I should have mentioned it before. Keep up the great work gentlemen, you're both doing an excellent job!
The Dave Matthews Band