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Catching up with the Canes at RCI

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All the latest from this week’s informal practices at RCI, plus news, interviews and more.

Newcomer Lee Stempniak joined the Hurricanes at Raleigh Center Ice this week.
Jamie Kellner

Catching up with the Canes at Raleigh Center Ice

RCI is in full swing as players continue to make their way back to Raleigh. Here’s who has been spotted at the informal practices so far.

  • From last week and prior - Cam Ward, Jaccob Slavin, Trevor Carrick, Ron Hainsey, Victor Rask, Brock McGinn, Joakim Nordstrom, Justin Faulk, Jordan Staal, Elias Lindholm, Andrej Nestrasil, Jay McClement, Valentin Zykov*, Viktor Stalberg, Josh Wesley*, Lucas Wallmark*, Daniel Altshuller
  • Newcomers this week - Noah Hanifin, Lee Stempniak, Brett Pesce, Phil Di Giuseppe, Ryan Murphy, Haydn Fleury*, Roland McKeown*, Alex Nedeljkovic*, Patrick Brown, Kyle Hagel, Jake Chelios, Keegan Lowe, Andrew Poturalski*, Sergey Tolchinsky*, Brendan Woods

*have since departed for Traverse City Prospects Tournament

Keeping in mind that the informal skates are nothing more than preseason on-ice workouts so it’s wise not to read TOO much into them, following are a few random (and by no means expert) observations from my visits:

  • It’s always interesting to watch on-ice dynamics, and perhaps not surprisingly most of the direction appears to be led by the defense, with Ron Hainsey the most vocal, assisted by Justin Faulk. Jay McClement and Jordan Staal are pitching in on the offensive side of things. Scrimmages started off slowly last week with a few half-ice three-on-three games but there are now enough players to have a full five-on-five session each day.
  • If our young blueline is to suffer a sophomore slump this season, it won't be due to offseason preparation. To a man they all look big, strong, and speedy, and that includes the veterans as well as the young defenders pushing for a spot in the lineup. Jaccob Slavin looks like the best defenseman on the ice, which is not surprising since he's been at RCI for several weeks now, but he just exudes a calmness in his speed and positioning with every shift and every drill. Noah Hanifin is rumored to have put on 10 pounds during the offseason; if so, he's now up to 213 pounds of twisted steel. He looks like he spent the summer in basic training. Brett Pesce appears to have filled out a bit, though I’m used to seeing his rangy frame from above the glass.
  • Among the forward ranks, Victor Rask has looked the most noticeable to me in terms of overall speed and skill. Newcomer Lee Stempniak appears to be fitting right in, he’s been skating on a line with Rask and Elias Lindholm, and is not afraid to assert himself and create scoring chances. Andrej Nestrasil shows no signs of the injury that set him back last season. Keep an eye on Valentin Zykov at Traverse City; he spent a full week here and easily held his own with several very nice power moves against the vets.

Players in the Press

In other news

The Traverse City Prospects Tournament begins Friday. Coverage will be mixed between radio, streaming and social media, so keep a check on Canes and Canes Country twitter for updates as they become available. The roster and schedule can be found [here] and Michelle McMahon and Michael Smith give us a preview [here].

Update: The hosting Detroit Red Wings have announced that all games will be available to stream via Fox Sports Go (for subscribers) as well as on their website, which will have no geographic restrictions. Enjoy watching the tournament this year!

  • Aleksi Saarela will a late scratch from the tournament. Saarela is recovering from minor surgery over the summer and has not been cleared to play, though there is still a chance he could be available for training camp. [NHLCanes]
  • Prospect Hudson Elynuik talks about his preparation for Traverse City [Spokane Chiefs]
  • When first round draft pick Julien Gauthier returns from Traverse City, he’ll be wearing an ‘A’ for his QMJHL team (provided he doesn’t make the Canes roster out of camp ;) ) [Val-d’or Foreurs]

The World Cup of Hockey kicks into full gear Saturday. Teuvo Teravainen and Sebastian Aho have seen game action in exhibition matches for Team Finland, though one at the expense of the other as they appear to be alternating as healthy scratches. Neither found the scoresheet as Finland went 1-2 in three preview games. Stay tuned for more details on the full WCoH schedule and how to watch later this week.

Some former Hurricanes in the news:

  • Zach Boychuk has been extended a PTO with the Arizona Coyotes
  • Kris Versteeg has been extended a PTO with the Edmonton Oilers
  • Tuomo Ruutu has been extended a PTO with the Vancouver Canucks
  • Best of luck to Manny Malhotra, who has wrapped up his on-ice career and is joining the Vancouver Canucks as a Development Coach.

Last but not least:

  • The Canes are launching a “Homegrown Series” eight-game schedule this season showcasing the best of local beer, t-shirts, art, music and food [NHLCanes].
  • Canes Country’s own puckhead Kyle Morton joined the Japers’ Rink podcast to preview the Canes [Japers’ Rink].
  • Congratulations to Charlotte Checkers COO Tera Black, who was recently honored with the James C. Hendy Memorial Award as the AHL’s outstanding executive for 2015-16, becoming the first woman to earn the award since its debut in 1961-62 [Sports Business Daily].
  • Finally, our Canes community took a hard hit this offseason with the departure of Mike Maniscalco from 99.9 The Fan, and his expert knowledge and tireless coverage will be sorely missed. Last week he got the chance to say goodbye and thanks. Best of luck to Mike in his new role at IMG College Sports! [SportsChannel8].