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The Carolina Hurricanes have been linked to Patrick Laine again
With more rumors having arisen exposing the Carolina Hurricanes’ interest in the Finnish winger, is it worth it for the Canes to pursue the sniper?

I really wish that the Carolina Hurricanes would end their interest in this player, but seemingly nothing will discourage the front office from exploring all possible avenues to acquire the Finnish phenom. Patrik Laine‘s trade rumors will not stop surfacing regarding his disdain in the frozen tundra of Winnipeg. It has been released that Winnipeg wants some certain pieces from Carolina.

Those pieces are Martin Necas Jersey and Brett Pesce Jersey. There’s a lot of reasons to be skeptical of this., but there are a few reasons to consider it. It’s one where it really raises an ultimatum of what to do. Does adding Laine make this team better when you subtract Pesce and Necas? Can Carolina afford to add Laine? Well, these are all interesting questions.

Starting with the contract situation. Laine makes $6.75 million dollars this season and then is a restricted free agent. It coincides with the needed renewals of Andrei Svechnikov Jersey and Dougie Hamilton Jersey. With a projected $28 million in cap space with those three and 8 other free agents to re-sign or replace, it gets a little too tight for my appreciation. I cannot 100% say it would be affordable without harming other parts of the team.

The aftermath of the Hurricanes’ 6-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Feb. 22, 2020 was most notable for the loss of both of the team’s goalies. After all, losing both NHL-caliber players at such a vital position is tough to overcome.

But the loss of the netminders overshadowed an arguably equally-significant subtraction that night, defenseman Brett Pesce. One of the Canes’ best blue liners suffered a shoulder injury that required surgery. He missed the rest of the shortened regular season, and all of the Hurricanes’ postseason action in the bubble.

Now, with the 2021 regular season rapidly approaching, Pesce is fully healed. The shoulder injury was a dislocation, one Pesce had suffered before. He had opted not to get surgery that time, but didn’t have much choice this time around. It was an invasive procedure, but Pesce said one that gives him the best chance of not having future issues with the shoulder.

A fully healthy Pesce is ready to get back on the ice and resume his place in the Hurricanes’ top four on defense.

“I’m good,” Pesce said. “I’m really excited to be back with everybody. It was a long-anticipated wait for me, especially coming in with an extra few months off due to COVID and the season starting late. But it’s good to be back with the guys, and I’m just happy to be playing again.”

It’s a cliche, but the saying often goes that with many defensemen, they did a good job on the ice if you don’t notice them. While Pesce’s offensive game has continued to grow over his career, his best attribute is his solid, steady play in the defensive zone.

Pesce is able to match up with and shut down the opposition’s top players and help keep them off the scoresheet. His strong defensive play was only magnified in his absence.

The Hurricanes managed to sweep the New York Rangers in the qualifying round without him, but the absence of such a steady, sound defender was sorely missed in a first-round loss to the Boston Bruins.

“He’s an elite defender, for me,” said head coach Rod Brind’Amour. “It’s that whole element that he’s bringing, that safety of knowing he’s hard to play against. I can’t say enough about it. If you don’t have it, you really notice it. He’s kind of one of those guys, when you have him in, maybe you take it for granted a little bit because he just does such a good job at what he does. There’s offense there too. He’s a really smart player. When he’s not in the lineup, you certainly miss it. No doubt about it.”

Pesce’s teammates felt his absence as well, particularly the pair for whom he’s tasked with making their jobs easier.

“When he’s on the ice, you know that he’s dependable,” said goalie James Reimer Jersey. “I think that’s something that’s big for any teammate, but especially for a goalie. A defenseman, that relationship, when you trust the guys in front of you, that just makes your game a whole lot easier. Pesce’s one of those guys. He’s a rock in front of you. He always seems to make the right play, and he blocks shots. He’s got a great stick. So it’s a lot of fun playing behind him.”

For Pesce, not being able to play in the bubble didn’t sit well. He had plans to meet them in Toronto for a possible return to action if the Hurricanes advanced past the first round.

But that’s not how events worked out, as the Hurricanes fell in five games to Boston. Not getting to play in the postseason a year after his playoff debut and having to watch his teammates go to battle without him was not an experience the sixth-year defenseman enjoyed.

“It’s not a good feeling,” Pesce said. “You want to be out there battling with your teammates. Missing the playoffs kind of took a toll on me even more so on me, because you have an opportunity to compete for a Stanley Cup, which is why everyone plays the game. So that hurt, I had to make a very tough decision for what’s best for the future of my career. I’m hoping to play this game in this league for a long time, so it needed to be done. It’s such a relief to be back with all the boys and working hard with all of them.”

Pesce is not just a valued presence for Carolina on the ice, but off it. When one thinks of players tasked with bringing energy and personality to the Hurricanes’ locker room, forward Jordan Martinook Jersey is probably at the top of the list.

But Martinook is quick to point out that Pesce plays a key role in that as well.

“He’s one of the guys that keeps it light and has fun,” Martinook said. “He’s always smiling when he comes to the rink. You’ll get that New York side to him where he gets in your face and chirps you a little bit. I think that’s why everybody’s drawn to him. He’s happy but he can throw jabs with the best of them. And then his play on the ice, it’s like he’s just smooth and steady. That’s how he is in the room. He’s smooth, laughing, throws a jab here and there. He’s a great guy to have in the room.”

Having Pesce back in the lineup for all of this shortened season would play a major role in the Hurricanes’ success. He’s likely to anchor the second pairing alongside Brady Skjei Jersey acquired at last year’s trade deadline, a pairing that has a lot of potential with Pesce’s shutdown ability paired with Skjei’s offensive acumen.

As the Hurricanes head into this season coming off their first back-to-back playoff appearances since 2001 and 2002, the team is looking to take the next step and compete for a Stanley Cup. It’s a step Pesce thinks his team is ready to take, and he’s ready to help them get there.

“I think we’ve proven the past few years that we’re a threat to any team in the league,” Pesce said. “We’re only getting better, and our young studs are getting older and more mature. They’re only going to improve. So I think it’s no secret anymore that we’re a good team.”

If the Hurricanes are going to take that next step, and go from a good team to a great team, a healthy Brett Pesce figures to be front and center in those efforts. And, following his lengthy absence, he just might get a little more notice this time.

What about the deal itself? Well, in order to evaluate this, we must look at Laine in comparison to the Carolina package.

Starting with Laine, he’s currently got a career average of around 35 goals a season. Considering he’s only 22, it’s safe to assume he’s going to be a 40-45 goal scorer, possibly with career highs in the 50s. He averages 62 points a season, and that will only go up. His production isn’t the problem. Defensively he is suspect on a good day, and he really isn’t that great with his awareness.

With all due respect to Laine, but I’ve often found myself wondering if he would be anywhere near as highly regarded as he is without his sensational shot. However, elite shooting is a rare commodity and it makes him quite valuable in the right situations. Laine also has a tendency to want to play with the best players, and I don’t know that he breaks up the SAT line.

Moving on to Necas and Pesce, I will start with Necas. A rookie who was 4th in scoring among Carolina Hurricanes forwards and that is exempt from the pending Seattle Expansion draft is someone that should not be moved so hastily. He’s an incredible skater, as fast as anyone and as a right-handed shot, he’s kind of a band-aid on the ax wound of the unbalanced shooting arrangements.

Pesce is one of the best analytical defensive defensemen in the NHL and his value cannot be understated. What he does in his own zone consistently will fly under the radar because he never makes any highlight real defensive plays, mainly because he’s in the perfect position to break them up normally. A right-handed shooting defenceman too, a rare and desirable piece in today’s NHL.

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So why does this trade make sense? Well, Carolina’s leading scorer in the bottom 9 didn’t have 40 points. Finding a scoring touch outside the SAT line is going to be important if the Canes want to push for the cup this postseason and Laine will certainly add that. Alongside some of the guys who don’t have that elite shot, he could find himself scoring for fun.

Why is it a bad idea? Well, remember I said Hamilton needs a new contract? Pesce is the only right-handed defenceman on the roster under contract for next season. Trading him away gives Dougie more leverage in his deal. It makes no sense. Also, Necas very well could become a 30-35 goal scorer. It’s not worth losing both of them to get Laine in my opinion. That said, I’m often wrong.

Should the Carolina Hurricanes go after Patrik Laine? I would say no. I would suggest his work ethic and his defensive game are not up to the level of the standards set by Rod Brind’amour and his coaching staff. I am not Don Waddell however. So we will see what becomes of the situation and if it works out for the better in Raleigh. At this price, it’s not worth it in my opinion.

Question for Cardiac Cane Readers: Do you think the Canes should go after Laine?

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Carolina Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal Jersey said there’s only one way to approach a 56-game NHL regular season.

“Find a way to get hot early and continue to stay hot,” Staal said Monday during a media call.

The NHL announced Sunday the 2020-21 season would crank up Jan. 13, 2021 and begin training camps Jan. 3. Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour said that will mean about eight practices, no exhibition games, then jump into the fire and go at it.

“It’s play for real,” he said. “You don’t tip-toe in.”

For the Canes, it will be much like July, when the NHL began its “Return to Play” postseason format during the pandemic and the 24 teams involved more or less rushed through a training camp. Or 2013, when the NHL lockout ended in January and teams had little time to prepare for a 48-game season and sprint to the finish.

“With a shortened season every game will be that much more heightened,” Staal said. “Everyone will need to be prepared right away and our group has got to jell quickly.”

And without fans to urge them on. The Canes said Monday that after consulting with local health officials, there would be no fans allowed at PNC Arena for the start of the season but noted the “hope” was the policy could change during the season.

The Canes did that in July. There were no coronavirus issues, the camp was productive and the Canes won their first three games, sweeping the New York Rangers, in a playoff qualifier once in the Toronto bubble.

“We can’t have a bad start. It’s too hard and not a long runway to catch up,” Brind’Amour said.

Carolina Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour watches his team play the Dallas Stars with left wing Erik Haula (56) center Ryan Dzingel Jersey (18) and right wing Nino Niederreiter Jersey (21) during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Dallas, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020. Michael Ainsworth AP
Brind’Amour said 25 players are in Raleigh going through informal workouts at the team’s new practice facility at the Wake Competition Center. They’re eager, he said, to get going.

No one is bemoaning the Canes’ divisional placement in the NHL’s new alignment for the 2020-21 season. While the East Division looks a lot like the Metropolitan of years past, the Canes have been put in the Central Division for its 56 games.

Not that it looks a lot easier in the Central. Tampa Bay won the 2020 Stanley Cup. The Dallas Stars lost in the final. But the only Metro holdover is Columbus, and the rest — Chicago, Detroit, Nashville, Florida — will make for a different look, feel and challenge.

There’s no Alex Ovechkin one-timers to fear, no trips to Madison Square Garden, no Canadians teams on the schedule. But a lot of Lightning.

“Most of the teams we haven’t played a ton,” Staal said. “It’s obviously weird we’re going to play those teams the whole year, which maybe will cause some new rivalries.”

Count on that. Play a team eight times in 56 games and some fierce rivalries can quickly be hatched.

The top four teams in each division will advance to the Stanley Cup playoffs, and the first two rounds will be among divisional teams. As Brind’Amour put it, that’s a lot of “banging heads” for the players.

“When you’ve got to do it over and over and over, that’s where the rivalries really get cooked up,” he said. “It might be a breath of fresh air for our guys to kind of create a little more rivalry with other teams. But tat the end of the day, they just want to play. It doesn’t matter. Play anybody.”

Another different look this season? Canes president and general manager Don Waddell said he anticipates having advertising decals on the team’s helmets — but not the jerseys — for the first time as NHL teams look to recoup what will be substantial financial losses.

The Canes, seeking a third straight playoff appearance, will enter the new season with last year’s team all but intact. Former captain Justin Williams Jersey has retired but forward Jesper Fast Jersey was signed as a free agent. The turnover was slight.

It’s also a team, Brind’Amour said, that won’t be lacking for motivation. After beating the Rangers in August, the Canes were bounced out of the playoffs for the second straight year by the Boston Bruins. That stung, again.

“It didn’t end the way we wanted it to end,” Brind’Amour said. “I think that’s the fuel here, the fire. We don’t want to end like that.

“That’s the great thing about having that same group back. They suffered. They went through that together and we want better things. I think that’s what you’re going to see out of these guys.”