The Carolina Hurricanes have finally completed the "mother of all road trips" and surprisingly, come back home with a winning record. There are plenty of early success stories, including the solid play of Cam Ward, the goal scoring of Eric Staal, (team high 3), the points put up by Jussi Jokinen, (tied for team high 6), the veracity and creativity of rookie Jeff Skinner, and the team leading plus/minus of Erik Cole, (+6).
But every team has it's unsung heroes as well and Carolina rookies, Zac Dalpe and Drayson Bowman have also contributed to the cause. While both players have yet to light the lamp, they each bring their own attributes to the game and have fared pretty well, considering they are rookies and they play limited minutes.
Another youngster, Jiri Tlusty is expected back in the lineup soon. Tlusty was assigned to Charlotte on October 12 for a two week conditioning stint. When he comes back to town, he most likely will bump one of those rookies from the fourth line.
So what happens next?
#21 / Center / Carolina Hurricanes
Mar 08, 1989
|2010 - Drayson Bowman||7||0||0||0||1||6||0||0||0||6|
#22 / Center / Carolina Hurricanes
Nov 01, 1989
|2010 - Zac Dalpe||6||0||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||6|
It's a complicated issue facing the coaching staff. First of all, team chemistry is excellent right now and it will be difficult for the coaches to change things up. But the Hurricanes traded away a first round draft pick, (Philippe Paradis), to acquire Tlusty and he is waiver eligible. They will not risk losing him by sending him back to Charlotte, so he's going nowhere.
While Dalpe and Bowman have each made positive contributions, their overall development must also be under consideration.
Dalpe is averaging a team low 7:05 of ice time per game and Bowman is next to last at 9:05. The Carolina brain trust is most likely wondering if either or both of those players might be better off in Charlotte, getting two or three times as much total ice time and also acquiring valuable experience playing in all situations, (powerplay, penalty kill, etc.). Neither player is waiver eligible and they can be sent down and brought back up as many times as the Canes want.
Keep in mind, the Hurricanes are not in the situation where they must make a roster move. After recently sending Brett Carson to the Checkers, they currently have 22 players on the active roster, (including Tlusty). They could keep all of these youngsters in town if they wanted to. But the team will need to healthy scratch two players and if Patrick O`Sullivan is one of the odd men out, who will be the other? Again if it's one of the rookies, they are not developing as efficiently as they could be if they are being healthy scratched.
Since Dalpe has the fewest minutes, my guess is that he will be reassigned soon. Although the former Ohio State Buckeye has not looked out of place on the ice against NHL talent. He also has great chemistry with the rest of the team and the coaches might not want to break that up.
What do you think will happen? What do you think should happen?
(Note: I had to be out of town for the past few days and was unable to tend to the blog. A big thank you to the Canes Country crew for keeping everything up to date in my absence.)