- Age: 28
- NHL Seasons: 4
- Scoring: 0 points in 4 NHL games; 2 assists in 4 AHL games
- Contract Status: Signed contract with the SHL’s Malmö Redhawks
- Age: 30
- NHL Seasons: 6
- Scoring: 0 points in 4 NHL games; 1 assist in 7 AHL games
- Contract Status: Retired
- Age: 26
- NHL Seasons: 2
- Scoring: 0 points in 3 NHL games; 4 goals and 10 assists in 25 AHL games
- Contract Status: Signed a one year, $750,000 contract with the Vancouver Canucks
- Age: 22
- NHL Seasons: 1
- Scoring: 0 points in 1 NHL game; 13 assists in 24 AHL games
- Contract Status: One year remaining on his entry-level contract, $809,166 cap hit
Evaluating the handful of bubble players who logged minutes for the Hurricanes this season is a challenge when sometimes the most charitable thing you can say is, “well, he sure did exist.”
It’s no one’s fault, really, that none of today’s profiled players were able to distinguish themselves much over the course of the season. The necessity of having a taxi squad meant that players who otherwise would have served veteran roles in the AHL instead got to hang out in the not-quite-NHL, waiting for the opportunity to do anything other than practice.
Joakim Ryan, Drew Shore and Sheldon Rempal all logged a handful of NHL games over the course of the season, joining the Hurricanes when injuries and COVID issues began to take their toll on the roster.
Ryan found himself playing the role of seventh defenseman at times when the Hurricanes opted to play a man short at forward. He averaged 10:51 of largely unremarkable ice time, taking only two total shots in his four games; he was equally unremarkable in the AHL. Ryan’s game has always been somewhat predictable as he found himself in a depth defenseman role in the NHL, and his play this season was no exception. Ryan returns to Sweden next season, having signed a deal with the Malmö Redhawks of the SHL.
Likewise, Shore found himself playing in few games, logging few minutes, and making little impact on the ice. Shore’s a player who was never quite skilled enough for a top six role and not quite gritty enough for a bottom six spot, though he’s excelled overseas and in the AHL. This season, he had little chance to establish himself as a veteran leader in Chicago, a role he’d been expected to play, thanks to his assignment to the taxi squad. Shore announced his retirement at the end of the season; the University of Denver-educated forward now joins Wasserman Hockey as an agent.
Rempal fared a bit better, logging 25 AHL games but not always getting the higher minutes needed for a player of his skillset — all offense, little defense — to make a real impact. Rempal alluded during the season to the frustrations of being a taxi squad player; the benefits of being around the NHL team are nice, but as he pointed out, most players would rather be playing. Rempal still has a great shot when he uses it and is put in a position to succeed, but with other younger players taking a more prominent role on the Wolves, Rempal found himself bumped down the depth chart. He’s signed a deal with the Canucks for the upcoming season and is expected to play for the AHL affiliate, the Abbotsford Canucks.
Speaking of delicious...how about this @rempal_11 goal to close out the second?#CHIvsGR #WeAreTheWolves pic.twitter.com/YOHRQVRg8k— Chicago Wolves (@Chicago_Wolves) May 13, 2021
Joey Keane, a defenseman acquired from the New York Rangers in February 2020 in exchange for Julian Gauthier, is the only legitimate prospect in the group here. Keane has two professional seasons under his belt and made his NHL debut on May 10 in a loss against Nashville. Keane logged 19:34 in ice time, placing him third among Hurricanes defenseman (behind Jake Bean and Jake Gardiner).
The first game of many for Joey Keane pic.twitter.com/HkF7Qp8MrY— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) May 11, 2021
In AHL play, while Keane didn’t find the back of the net, he did record 13 assists, showing an aptitude for helping his teammates on offense. He did log big minutes for the Chicago Wolves, frequently finding himself on the top pairing, and coach Ryan Warsofsky nearly always had positive feedback for Keane after games.
Keane’s path to a more permanent role on the Hurricanes seems murkier now, given the off-season acquisitions by the team on the blue line, but he should be poised to log big minutes again for the Wolves. Like many young defensemen, Keane still needs to improve his defensive game, so look for that to continue to be a focus of development for him.
How would you grade Joakim Ryan, Sheldon Rempal, Drew Shore and Joey Keane’s 2020-21 season?
This poll is closed
A - Outstanding Performance
B - Above Average Performance
C - Average Performance
D - Below Average Performance
F - Significantly Below Average Performance