clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

FutureCanes MailBag: Vol. 1

Answering questions from the Canes fanbase.

NHL: Carolina Hurricanes at New York Rangers Tom Horak-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the first installment of FutureCanes Mailbag, a (probably) biweekly series that features myself answering questions from fans on Canes Twitter. Because I can’t always express my full thoughts or answer questions in 280 characters or less, I figured a mailbag would be fun for engagement and to get some discussion going.

I’ll likely be answering between 5-10 questions each time. If you’re looking to submit a question, you can follow me @FutureCanes on Twitter. I’ll be putting out a tweet 1-2 days prior to writing my piece, where all questions will be welcomed.

Without further ado, let’s get started!

I’ll start off by immediately eliminating the “move on” option, as I think it would be incredibly stupid to move on from a 23-year old kid who possesses world-class speed and hands. I mean, in the right trade, anybody is movable — but I find it pretty difficult to imagine a scenario where the Hurricanes would get adequate value for what Necas’ future potential could reach.

Before the season started, I was fully committed to the thought of extending Necas long-term, but I’m not sure I could see that happening anymore. I haven’t lost my belief in him, but the inconsistency throughout the season has just put too many dark clouds over what his long-term price tag should be. I think both sides would be more comfortable with a bridge for now, because lets face it — 38 points in 77 games in pretty underwhelming for a kid with his natural ability.

It’s pretty hard to find bridge comparables for him considering how weird of a case his season has been. He currently has 3 less points than he did in the 2020-21 season, despite playing 24 more games. I picked out Jake DeBrusk, who scored 27 goals and 42 points in 2019 before dropping off to 19 goals and 35 points in 2020. After that dip in production, he signed a 2-year deal with Boston at a 3.675 AAV, and at the time was the same age as Necas currently is. I could see his deal come in at around a four million dollar range for 2 years.

In an ideal world, Pyotr Kochetkov and Eetu Mäkiniemi would form a tandem that the Canes could rely on for years down the road, but goaltending development is extremely unpredictable and non-linear. The fanbase has already rolled out the red carpet for Kochetkov — and let’s be honest, he’s been absolutely incredible — but it’s been a very small sample size in the AHL and even smaller in the NHL. He has the makings of a star, but nothing is guaranteed.

Meanwhile, Mäkiniemi has posted near-identical statistics to Kochetkov for Chicago this season but unfortunately an injury derailed his season. He’s also a supremely talented kid who can steal games with his aggressively confident style. I think it’s interesting to note as well that in 2017, when the Canes selected Mäkinemi in the fourth round, Kochetkov was undrafted. Obviously the Russia factor plays into that, but Mäki has long been a highly-touted kid.

To be totally honest, I’m optimistic about both of these kids as future NHLers. I wouldn’t be surprised if both guys became star goaltenders. They both have exceptional athletic ability, self-confidence, and winning pedigree at the KHL and Liiga level, respectively. It’s easy to be more sold on Kochetkov as of right now because of what he’s done in the NHL this past week, but don’t forget about Eetu either. These kids are both studs.

This is a question that I really don’t have an answer too. I genuinely have no idea. There’s so much to take into account — the point production, the defensive lapses, the character concerns and how the rest of the league views him, etc. There’s so many potential variables, and the fact that he’s an RFA and arbitration-eligible makes the whole situation even more interesting. I really have no idea how this could go, it’s a wait-and-see type vibe for me.

From the research I’ve done, the Hurricanes are 39-13-5 in the 57 games that Bear has played, and 14-7-3 without him. If you break that down — they’ve won 68.4% of games that he’s played in, and won 58.3% of games that he hasn’t.

Now, obviously those numbers go far beyond just Bear’s contributions, but I do think his place in the lineup should be solidified. For me, he’s quite clearly the team’s best option to run the PP2, and he doesn’t take nearly as many senseless penalties as both Ian Cole and Brendan Smith. His defensive zone breakout ability is also very crisp, as is his puck movement.

The biggest thing for Bear is that he just needs to calm down when he’s under pressure. I think teams have figured out that he tends to get rattled when he’s constantly getting hit and forechecked against, which forces him into turnovers and mistakes.

I mean, who really knows? Sometimes trial by fire can be the best thing for a kid. The circumstances were different, but we saw how things turned out for Cam Ward in 2006 when he got called upon.

Historically in the playoffs, the Cup winning team has had a goaltender get hot at the right time. Kochetkov has been on fire all season at the KHL and AHL level. Obviously the jump up to the NHL is a massive difference, but he’s looked the part in the 2.5 games he’s played.

But thankfully, it’s seeming more and more likely that Frederik Andersen should be good to go for Game 1 — which I think is the best-case scenario for the team, and probably for Kochetkov.

Personally, the priority is Nino Niederreiter and I don’t think it’s particularly close. The heaviness he plays with and the 25-30 goal production that he offers are just too vital to the success of the group. He’s been able to produce and have an effective impact with any combination of line mates that he’s been deployed with, which is extremely important versatility for the group.

As far as Trocheck, I would be very surprised if he’s a Hurricane next fall. I think it’s fair to assume that — based on role and production — he’ll ask for longer term and dollars than Nino will, and is likely to price himself out of the team’s comfort zone. He’s small but plays large and is approaching 30, which could lead to a decline in the latter years of a long-term extension.

Jesperi Kotkaniemi is also ready for a larger role, and considering what he’s being paid, the team can’t afford to keep him in a fourth-line role forever. He can slide into Trocheck’s spot, and there’s other options like moving Necas to center or having another look at Jack Drury. Niederreiter is much more difficult to replace. Big, bruising power forwards like him don’t grow on trees, and there’s nobody in the Canes’ system right now who can replicate what he brings to this team.

I mean, we’re practically one week away from Canes playoff hockey. I’m doing absolutely fantastic. :)

Big thank you to everybody who took the time to submit questions! If you didn’t get the chance, be sure to follow @FutureCanes and be on the lookout for submissions for the next installment in this series!