When the Carolina Hurricanes training camp opened last September, their newly signed 2008 2nd round pick, Zac Dalpe had already been in Raleigh nearly a month, skating at the RecZone with NHL vets Erik Cole and others, in the preseason training sessions we call "Camp Brind`Amour". His conditioning and skills earned him a plane ticket to Finland and with it, his first NHL start in Helsinki on October 7th.
He stayed with the team for 6 more games, which lasted through the west coast trip, but with diminishing ice time and no more points since he notched an assist in Finland, he was returned to Charlotte, where he eventually secured the spot as the Checkers’ top centerman. In April, Dalpe was one of three forwards named to the AHL’s all-rookie team.
After the jump a closer look at his performance with the Canes.
#22 / Center / Carolina Hurricanes
Nov 1, 1989
|Faceoffs W/L||Faceoffs PCT|
|2010 - 11 Zac Dalpe||15||3||1||4||0||0||1||7:56||10||5||7/19||26.9%|
Injuries at the NHL level provided another 7-game stint with the big club in January, this time playing wing and contributing 3 goals. He didn’t stick though. Dalpe was returned to Charlotte, where he remained for the balance of the season, except for a single game in February. Also you might keep in mind that with just 15 games, he will be defined as a rookie for the upcoming 2011-12 season.
Dalpe, who is still only 21, has all the components to be a top-6 forward for the Canes: good size and exceptional speed as well as a heavy shot, all of which is complemented by an exceptional work ethic, perhaps his best attribute. His leadership in Charlotte made him a standout through the playoffs and GM Jim Rutherford has made it clear that among the Checkers’ best forwards (a list that includes Zach Boychuk, Drayson Bowman, and Jerome Samson) he considers Dalpe to be first in line to be a full time NHLer in 2011-12.
In 15 games this season, Dalpe saw a variety of roles from depth center to a few shifts as a top 6 wing. His numbers (3 G, 1A, 4 Pts) are unremarkable, but often he was earning his ice time by starting on the 4th line, so opportunities to produce on the scoreboard were scarce. Despite that, he managed to notch a goal when assigned to that fore-checking 4th line during his January stint (video from Jan 3 vs Florida below). He also played smart and with discipline as he has yet to be called for a penalty in the NHL.
Dalpe never quite showed the elite scoring ability in October required to lock him in to a top-6 NHL spot ahead of established veterans, the way Jeff Skinner did from Day 1.
Having always played center, when given the opportunity to take the faceoffs in the NHL, his statistics were dismal, winning only 7 of 26 draws (<27%). Before you abandon all hope for his future on this, of those 26, 18 were taken in road games, meaning the opposing (home) team was able to send out their choice of center to face him. At home, he went 4 for 10 (40%), hardly impressive nor a huge sampling. And before you ask, the AHL does not publish their faceoff stats.
Dalpe’s second visit to Raleigh started off well, 2 goals in the first 2 games playing left wing; with that, he continued to see his ice time increase. In his fifth game in January, he saw over 13 minutes TOI, scoring his 3rd goal in 5 games as Tuomo Ruutu sprung the speedy Patrick Dwyer who then centered to the driving Dalpe as he crashed the net. That's hockey baby. (Video below)
The next game, a feisty tilt vs the Calgary Flames, Dalpe's TOI dropped to just 4:28 and he didn't get a shift in the third period. He got one more outing in Buffalo before the decision was made that top-line experience in Charlotte was better for his development than limited checking line minutes in Raleigh.
So after contributing 3 goals in those first 5 games in January, why was he shipped back to Charlotte a few days later? What's not clear to me is whether the details of his performance dropped off abruptly, or was he injured in the Calgary game, or was something else at work? Was the AHL re-assignment all on him or did the return to health of Jussi Jokinen and Sergei Samsonov mean it was simply about money and/or a collection of circumstances beyond his doing? Speaking of money...
Dalpe just completed the first year of his entry level contract, earning $550,000 in actual salary when at the NHL level. His cap hit, (per capgeek.com) including signing and possible performance bonuses counted for $850,000.
While in Charlotte, he earned $65,000 annually.
With just 15 games to go on (this poll isn't about what he did in Charlotte), and lots of hype as he emerged as one of the team's top prospect over the last 12 months,...