That’s a wrap.
The Carolina Hurricanes’ 2016-17 campaign came to an incredible finish last night in Philadelphia with a 4-3 shootout victory.
What, in any other year, would have just been the end to a playoff-less season, Sunday night in Philly was far more. It was the end of Bryan Bickell’s NHL career.
Bickell didn’t dictate the circumstances of the end of his career. He was a victim of a life-changing disease, but regardless, he certainly went out in style in the bottom of the first round of the shootout.
Brock McGinn, who found the back of the net twice in regulation, would go on to seal the deal in the bottom of the third for a Canes win.
It was truly an incredible night that ended the only way it could have ended - with Bryan Bickell making the difference.
So, for the last time until October, let’s talk about last night.
Playing for Bryan
Last night was all about Bryan Bickell, and as the game wore on into the dying minutes of regulation and into overtime, this was made incredibly clear.
The intensity of the game ramped up, the desperation was clear, and Eddie Lack made some brilliant stops, particularly on the glove side, in overtime.
Chop Wood, Carry Water.
Here’s to New McGinnings
Brock McGinn certainly put a cap on what was a big year for him as a professional hockey player.
McGinn found the back of the net twice, including once in the third period to tie the game, and he scored the game-winner in the shootout on a slick wrister.
A now three-year pro, McGinn finished with an even nine goals and nine assists for 18 points in 58 NHL games, but the role he played went far beyond the point totals.
As a spark plug and physical presence, what Brock McGinn brought to the table was pretty unique. Phil Di Giuseppe stood out in a very similar fashion in regards to playing a physical brand of hockey.
McGinn was able to stay around. His last movement within the organization was a November 10 call-up, and he stuck the rest of the season in Raleigh.
That’s a huge step for him - being able to stay with and contribute to an NHL team for months on end.
It’s far from a guarantee that McGinn will be among the group of 12 forwards entering next season, but is he can work on his skating and polishing his games as a two-way player, he’s certainly an odds-on favorite for a bottom-six role from day one.
At the end of every season, you see the last of what could be many players on your team, and this year is no different.
Of course, Bryan Bickell is the big one and a unique circumstance in of itself, but there are others.
Matt Tennyson, Derek Ryan, and Jay McClement are all pending unrestricted free agents. Both Tennyson and McClement seem to be on their way out the door unless they bring back Tennyson exclusively for expansion draft purposes.
Ryan could be a player in search of a one-way deal over the offseason, but I’d be admittedly surprised to see him get that from Ron Francis, and he may be hard pressed to get one from any other team, although he certainly has competitive numbers at 11 goals and 29 points in 67 games.
Teuvo Teravainen, Brock McGinn, and Klas Dahlbeck are all team-controlled restricted free agents. I’d like to see all of them come back. Teravainen and McGinn are locks to be coming back to the organization, barring a trade of some kind, but Dahlbeck could easily be tendered and exposed in the expansion draft. If he makes it through, I think he would be a good fit as a seventh defenseman next season.
And, of course, one of Cam Ward or Eddie Lack likely won’t be here next season. At this point, it’s a guessing game for who goes and who stays, but given the organization’s fondness of Ward and their yearning to see him be a part of the solution, it could easily be Lack getting moved, bought out, or perhaps even drafted by Las Vegas this offseason. However, that’s purely just speculation.
Seemingly, all predictions have Lee Stempniak being the player Las Vegas picks off of Carolina’s roster. If that ends up being the case, he’ll be missed. As a veteran player and a sporadic point producer, I would love to see him stick around and be a part of a team that will make the playoffs next season.
It will be interesting to watch.
Well, that’s it. 82 games in the books. Ron Francis will meet with the media this week to talk about the season and what he’s planning to do over the summer and we will have coverage from that.
What we witnessed this year was immensely special. Consider yourselves lucky that you are here now, watching this team grow from the ground up. A year from now, I think there’ll be some more hockey to be played for your Carolina Hurricanes in late April and beyond. Get excited, the wait is nearly over.
Thank you for stopping by and reading About Last Night throughout the season.
This morning, the Hurricanes announced that they have reassigned Sergei Tolchinsky to the AHL Charlotte Checkers. Charlotte is a point out of a playoff spot with three games remaining and a game in hand on fourth-place Cleveland. The release from the team is below.
CANES REASSIGN TOLCHINSKY TO CHARLOTTE
Forward played in Hurricanes’ final two regular-season games of 2016-17
Ron Francis, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has reassigned forward Sergey Tolchinsky to the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League (AHL).
Tolchinsky, 22, was recalled from Charlotte on April 7, and played in Carolina’s final two games of the 2016-17 season, registering one assist. The Moscow native is in his second full professional season and has scored seven goals and earned 15 assists (22 points) in 57 games with the Checkers this season. He made his NHL debut with Carolina on March 31, 2016, and earned one assist in his two games last season with the Hurricanes. Tolchinsky (5’8”, 170 lbs.) signed with Carolina as a free agent in August 2013, and has scored 21 goals and earned 37 assists (58 points) in 130 career AHL regular-season games with Charlotte.