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FutureCanes MailBag: Vol. 5

Answering early season questions from the Canes fanbase.

NHL: Carolina Hurricanes at Vancouver Canucks Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

With the NHL season now well underway, I felt like it’d be a good time to answer some burning early season questions from the readers. Let’s dive right into it.

I really do, yeah. The fact that he’s actually still a Hurricane is surprising to me. The team does seem to like him, so I’m not shocked that they’re holding onto him to get fair value, but at some point both sides just need a fresh start. It’s pretty obvious that he’s well behind Jalen Chatfield, Dylan Coghlan and Calvin de Haan on the depth chart, and I don’t think his preseason performance inspired any confidence that he can jump those guys. I strongly believe he’s played his final game as a Cane already.

In the case of Svechnikov, this is already a top-tier player. He scored 30 goals last season and nearly 70 points as a 21-year old, which already had him in the class of the stars. What we’re witnessing so far this year is him taking another step towards superstardom. He’s continuing to learn where he needs to be to score, his release is deadly and he keeps adjusting to use his size and strength to his advantage, which makes him very difficult to defend. With 7 goals in his first 6 games, he’s currently on pace to score 96, which, while I don’t quite think is realistic, I have strong optimism in him eclipsing the 40-goal mark this year — as I predicted before the season started.

In the case of Nečas, we’re witnessing a player who’s taken the offseason to step back and reset himself. With the skill and speed he possesses, we all know that this player is a weapon on his day. He can be the most dynamic guy on the ice at any given time. The noticeable difference early in the season is the confidence he’s playing with. He’s not afraid to do what he wants, he’s skating brilliantly, and things are clicking for him. He’s even contributing much more than I’ve seen from him on the defensive side of things. He looks like a player who’s devoted to proving the doubters wrong, and so far he’s done exactly that.

I think it’s way too early to really make any decisions on that. On one hand, sure, Burns hasn’t exactly gotten off to the explosive start we were all hoping for early in the season, but he’s also played just 6 games in a system that defensemen have historically taken quite a while to adjust to. It’s been a struggle so far, especially with his decision making at times, but I’m not overly concerned yet. We all know what he can do in this league, and the Canes didn’t give up much to bring him here.

Yeah, I think you can make that argument for sure. Now just imagine if Jake Gardiner had been able to get healthy and back to the level he was playing at as Brett Pesce’s partner back in 2020. Talk about a wicked group. However, the depth is likely to take a little hit when Ethan Bear is moved along, but the team has some other options in Chicago with NHL experience such as Maxime Lajoie and William Lagesson, who can help overcome the losses of Grigorii Dronov and Joey Keane from the group.

Let’s wait and see how the season plays out before we start discussing any of that. Injuries, form (especially down the stretch) and potential contract demands all play a large factor in which way the negotiations can go. Also have to keep in mind that Pyotr Kochetkov will turn 24 in June of 2023, and considering what he’s shown at the pro level thus far, I would be very surprised if he’s not on the NHL roster next fall.

All things considered, I feel like he’s done his job pretty well. The thing with Martinook is that nobody can ever question his heart and his effort level, and he’s a player you can rely on to bring 110% every night. The issue with him is that what he brings just isn’t worth a $1.8M cap hit and the team has other guys in the system that can fill his role and even eclipse it for a fraction of the cost. But credit where it’s due, he’s been good for the most part thus far. Just please, for the love of God, keep him away from the first line.

If he can get back to the level he’s played at throughout his career, his return will be huge. He’s sure to help out a powerplay unit that’s struggled for consistency, and will probably be the best “finisher” on this team. The guy just finds ways to score. He attacks the paint, he’s got a good release and he pounces on loose pucks. He’s a clinical forward, and in a possession-heavy system I expect him to get a lot of shooting opportunities that he’ll convert into scoring chances.

During the offseason, I was a huge advocator of moving Nečas to center to see what he could do with more space and the ability to free roam. Now, I’m not sure I’d rush into the move. Through the first 6 games of the season, he’s playing the best hockey of his career on the wing and has developed some real chemistry with Svech and KK. The trio has been firing on all cylinders, and the dynamic abilities of each guy on that line is a matchup nightmare for a lot of teams in this league. At this point, I think you stick with what’s working.

That’s a good question and quite frankly, I’m not entirely sure. He’s a young kid who’s still learning the overall structure of the game at the NHL level, and he’s already playing top line minutes and on the PP. The Canes already have a glut of forwards they can depend on to kill penalties — Aho, Stepan, Staal, Fast, Martinook, Necas, etc — so I don’t think they need to overburden Jarvis with doing too much right now. He’s only 20. Letting him focus on the known areas of strength in his game is a great way to continue to ease him into NHL hockey, and he’ll be ready for an expanded role if/when the Canes need him to be.

As always, a big thank you to everybody who took the time to submit questions and of course, to all the readers! If you didn’t get the chance, be sure to follow @FutureCanes on Twitter and be on the lookout for submissions for the next installment in this series!