Marc Bergevin

Carolina Hurricanes: Désolé Marc! Sorry Marc!

featured image photo credit – Lisa Gansky/Wikimedia Commons

The Carolina Hurricanes are set to match the Montréal Canadiens offer sheet on Sebastian Aho. 

To nobody’s surprise, General Manager Don Waddell has announced they will match. The 21-year old Finnish superstar will be remaining in Carolina for another 5 years. They currently have not signed the final contract, but have another six days to do so. So, as it appears, Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin has lost the battle to Waddell.

The deal is for $42.27M spanning 5 years (2019-2024), with an average annual value of $8.454M. It’s a great contract, both for Aho, and for the Carolina Hurricanes. Both in terms of value and in terms of length. It wasn’t exactly what the team would have liked. But Waddell doesn’t feel it will hinder the team’s development.

The Finnish superstar

Those new to the Carolina Hurricanes might not realize just how important he is to the franchise. The Rauma, Finland native, Sebastian was drafted by Carolina in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, 35th overall. In three seasons with the Hurricanes, he’s managed to secure himself as the premier skater of the franchise. Most recently he established himself as a point-per-game player, registering 30 goals and 53 assists (83 points) in the 82 game regular season. This marked him as the sixth player in franchise history to record a minimum of 30 goals and 50 assists in the same season. Aho’s also the fourth player in franchise history to tally 80 points prior to turning 22.

The Finnish center is also amid good company in league record books as well. Starting the 2018-19 season, Aho went on to have a 12-game point streak (4g-13a) from Oct 4th-Oct 30th. Both being franchise records for longest assist streak and points streak. This run also tied the league records for the longest season-opening assist streak streak. Previous players to mark this achievement include Wayne Gretzky and Kin Linesman. An effort that saw him awarded 3rd star of the week by the NHL on Oct 15th. Aho would go on to have five additional point streaks of 4 or more games, and only once suffered a three-game points drought.

Sebastian also registered a total of 20 multi-point games across the 2018-19 season. This includes his second career hat trick on Jan 13th against the Nashville Predators, and four four-point games. Finally, Aho is also tied for second in franchise records for most short-handed goals in a single-season with four. It is the most by a Carolina skater since the 2005-06 season when both Justin Williams and Eric Staal both registered four a piece.

Career Highlights

In 242 NHL games, Sebastian has a record of 83g-114a (197 points) and averages 18:07 minutes time on ice. Aho represented the Hurricanes in the 2019 NHL All-Star Game in San Jose. He’s also won one Gold Medal (IIHF World Junior’s – 2016 [Finland]) and two Silver Medals (IIHF World Junior’s U18 – 2015 [Switzerland] & IIHF World Championships – 2016 [Russia]) with the Finnish national team.

We’ll Keep You Posted

The Puck77 crew will keep you posted as soon as the Carolina Hurricanes formally announce that they have signed Aho.

stats from eliteprospects.com and hockey-reference.com

Carolina Hurricanes

Carolina Hurricanes: Congratulations and Concerns

July 1st is always a busy day for clubs and it was no different for the Carolina Hurricanes.

Embed from Getty Images

Canes Broadcast team returns

Much to the delight of Caniacs worldwide, the broadcasting trio will return. Play-by-Play Announcer John Forslund (@JohnForslund), Color Analyst Tripp Tracey, and television/web host Mike Maniscalco (@MikeManiscalco) have all been re-signed by the Carolina Hurricanes. This will mark the 21st season that Forslund and Tracey will have worked together for Carolina. Additionally, it will be Forslund’s 25th season as the play-by-play voice of the Hurricanes. This posting dates back to 1994-95 season when the franchise was still located in Hartford, CT. Tracey, a former goaltender for the Philadelphia Flyers, has been with the club since his retirement in 1998. Maniscalco enters into his fourth season with the club as the host of Hurricanes LIVE! on FOX Sports Carolinas and host of the popular podcast CanesCast.

Hurricanes find a primary – Return of the Mrazzle Dazzle

 

In true cardiac cane fashion, the Carolina Hurricanes re-sign the 27-year old Czech phenom on UFA-day. The new contract is a 2-year, $6.25M deal that will last through the 2020-21 season. The deal pays out a respectable $3M in the upcoming 2019-20 season, and follows with a $3.25M payout in 2020-21. The Ostrava, CZE native was originally drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. Selected 141st overall (5th rd, 21s pk). In the year Petr Mrazek has spent with the Carolina Hurricanes hockey club, he’s hammered out quite the reputation. Both within franchise records, and in fan’s hearts. Following the 2017-18 season, Philadelphia did not tender a qualifying offer to Petr, which opened him up to the free agent market.

Embed from Getty Images

Hurricanes GM Don Waddell, on July 1st 2018, extended a contract offer. A 1-year, $1.5M contract, and an opportunity to redeem himself after the season in Philly. Now, a year later, Petr has registered a 23-14-3 record, a 2.39 goals-against average, and a .914 save percentage that includes four shutouts. This tied his career high in shutouts. It addition, put him squarely in fifth place in franchise records for lowest single-season goals-against average. He sports a career record of 101-78-26, a 2.61 goals-against average, and a .911 save percentage spanning 223 NHL games. The Hurricanes Twitter account puts it best.

Controversy and concern – Sebastian Aho receives an offer sheet

Then the day got interesting. GM Marc Bergevin of the Montreal Canadiens extended an offer sheet to restricted free agent and Hurricanes superstar, Sebastian Aho.

It was not entirely unexpected, considering that multiple teams had called Carolina. The shock came more in the form of the offer itself. Surprising enough that the Hurricanes GM made mention of it during a press conference addressing the offer sheet.

Carolina’s on a 7-day clock, on whether to match the offer, or to take the draft pick compensation. The compensation would come in the form of a 1st Round pick, a 2nd Round pick, and a 3rd Round pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. It had been previously said that the club would match any offer. Not to worry, though, Caniacs.

Stats and information courtesy of Hockey Reference, the NHL and Cap Friendly

Featured Image Photo Credit – Josh Tessler

Alex Nedeljkovic

Carolina Hurricanes: Nedeljkovic to return to Carolina

featured image photo credit – Tori Hartman (Instagram – @HartmanTori)

Carolina Hurricanes re-sign goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic.

It was announced today that GM Don Waddell has re-signed the 23-year old net-minder. Alex’s new contract goes through the 2020-21 season. For the 2019-20 season, the contract is a two-way deal worth $725,000 at the NHL level, and $70,000 at the AHL level. It also carries a $125,000 guarantee with it. The contract becomes a one-way deal in the 2020-21 season worth $750,000. Nedeljkovic is expected to contend for a roster spot during the Hurricanes’ training camp later this summer.

It’s All About Ned

Ned, as he’s fondly referred to, has become quite a household name in North Carolina. During the 2018-19 season, Nedeljkovic posted a 34-9-5 record with four shutouts, a 2.26 goals-against average, and a .916 save percentage. His regular season record netted him the Aldege “Baz” Bastien Memorial Award as the AHL’s most outstanding goaltender. Ned would go on to post a 10-4 record with a 2.34 goals-against average and .916 save percentage in the playoffs. Four of those wins came back-to-back to clinch the Checkers’ first-ever Calder Cup victory. In 125 career AHL games, Ned holds a 73-35-9 record with a 2.59 goals-against average, a .904 save percentage, and 10 shutouts.

Nedeljkovic, in his first NHL start against Vancouver on January 23rd, registered his first career NHL win. This makes him the fifth net-minder in Hurricanes franchise history to register a win on their first NHL start. Ned made 24 saves on 26 shots in the Hurricanes’ 5-2 win, for a 2.00 goals-against average and .923 save percentage.

Carolina’s Goaltending Situation at a glance

The Hurricanes now have at least one net-minder they have confidence in on the books. Other goaltenders include Scott Darling, pending UFAs Petr Mrazek, Curtis McElhinney, and RFA Anton Forsberg. Additionally, the Hurricanes have not hired a replacement for former goaltending coach Mike Bales. The return of Mrazek and/or McElhinney is still on the table, as reported by Michael Smith. Meanwhile, the expected buyout of Scott Darling is still under consideration.

stats from theahl.com, hockey-reference.com

featured image photo credit – Tori Hartman

Carolina Hurricanes

Carolina Hurricanes: Mitch Marner a possibility?

With a lot of big moves happening, could Mitch Marner be wearing a Carolina Hurricanes sweater next season?

Embed from Getty Images

Toronto fans know that they’re in trouble during the 2019 offseason. Their team has reached cap hell, they’ve got a ton of RFAs/UFAs, and very little to work with. Considering the 22-year-old’s performance, and the myriad of high paying contracts being signed, he’ll want a big payout. Something that the Maple Leafs look like they’ll be unlikely to do.

The Hurricanes

Why the Hurricanes, you might ask? For starters, the team ended the 2019 playoffs in the Eastern Conference Finals in their first appearance since 2009. They’ve proven themselves to be a winning team. A developing star like Marner could find such a team attractive. Secondly, the Hurricanes will have copious amounts of cap space, despite the number of contracts they have outstanding. Some of which are possibly not going to be penned. There’s also the possibility of winger Michael Ferland flexing his UFA status and signing somewhere else. Hurricanes GM Don Waddell could also opt to not re-sign arbitration-available RFAs Brock McGinn and Saku Maenalanen. Which brings us back to shopping for a new winger or two. Finally, there’s also the looming possibility that Justin Williams opts to retire from the league this off-season. If Williams decides to retire, the Hurricanes will lose one of their top wingers, of which they don’t necessarily have a good replacement for.

Trade bait

The Carolina Hurricanes have quite an arsenal at their disposal in terms of acquiring Marner, should they decide to. As mentioned earlier, they have a large projected cap space, meaning they could propose an offer sheet.. They also have a multitude of draft picks for the 2019 NHL draft that they could entice Toronto with, and instead trade for Marner. With three second round picks and two sixth round picks, there are a lot of chips they could offer in compensation. There’s also a few winger prospects from their AHL affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers, that could be brought up on low-cost NHL contracts that Waddell could sweeten the pot with. Especially as the Checkers brought home the Calder Cup in the 2019 AHL playoffs.

Mitch Marner

Drafted in 2015 in the first round, 4th overall by Toronto, Marner quickly established himself as an NHL-ready player. In his rookie season, Marner posted an impressive 64 points (19G, 42A) across 77 games. He was named the NHL Rookie of the Month in January 2017, and named to the NHL’s All-Rookie Team that same year. In this most recent season, he posted career highs across the board with 26 goals, 68 assists, and 94 points. His impact on the ice is noticeable, his production is phenomenal, and best of all, he’s still young. With years ahead of him to continue to grow as a player, he could conceivably become a 40 or 50 goal scorer once he reaches his prime. This level of skill is something that will make him quite desirable to teams should Toronto be unable to retain him.

stats from hockey-reference.com, NHL.com

featured image photo credit – Josh Tessler

 

Carolina Hurricanes

Carolina Hurricanes: Endings are simply new beginnings

The Carolina Hurricanes put on an amazing spectacle this season, so what’s in store for the future. 

 

All good things must come to an end.

The Carolina Hurricanes’ Cinderella run deep into the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs have ended. After the sweep of the New York Islanders in round two, the good fortune of our favorite Bunch of Jerks was over. Despite their strong goaltending and 5-on-5 play, they found themselves unable to find a way against the Boston Bruins. In a trend set from the start of the 2019 playoffs, the Carolina Hurricanes found themselves swept in the Eastern Conference Finals. This is not to say that the Hurricanes were a poor team, on the contrary, they were a fantastic team. The Bruins were just better, with their power play clicking upwards of 60% during the four game series. Now that their season is over, it’s now time to look towards the 2019-20 regular season.

Embed from Getty Images

Looking forward: The franchise

Hockey is most definitely back in North Carolina. During the regular season, the Carolina Hurricanes began seeing a surge in attendance, and going into the 2019 playoffs, even set a new franchise record. Game 4 of the second round saw the Hurricanes set a franchise record of 19,495 in attendance at PNC Arena, the same night they recorded their first franchise series sweep. This is only but one of many records either set, or broken, by the Carolina Hurricanes during this past year. Depending on roster moves during the summer, another playoff drought isn’t expected anytime soon. And much to the ire of their critics, as well as the delight of their fans (both new and old), hockey isn’t leaving North Carolina anytime soon.

Looking forward: The players

The Hurricanes roster at the start of the 2019-20 regular season will see the return of many familiar faces. It also faces the possibility of several players leaving the franchise. One such player is Scott Darling, whom is rumored to be facing a contract buyout during the off-season this summer, as evidenced in the below tweet from David Pagotta.


 

Sebastian Aho, Brock McGinn, and Clark Bishop are all RFAs. Aho is extremely likely to be re-signed by Hurricanes GM Don Waddell, with Brock McGinn being a strong possibility. The Hurricanes roster also has five UFAs to address this summer as well. Justin Williams, Greg McKegg, Michael Ferland, and the miracle goaltending duo of Petr Mrazek and Curtis McElhinney. With the number of contract negotiations to occur during the summer, we may see a lot of new jerks on the roster.

The “Bunch of Jerks” and the Storm Surge

Whether you’re a bandwagon fan from the 2019 playoffs, new to the franchise (like myself), or a long-time fan, the Caniacs have a lot to look forward to. The “Bunch of Jerks” season saw not only a re-branding of the Carolina Hurricanes, but a re-invention of the team’s identity. It’s unknown whether or not the moniker will carry over into the 2019-20 regular season. Many have suggested that it does not, as there will not be another season like this. I happen to agree on this, as it happened to grow out of the noteworthy tirades of Don Cherry. The Storm Surge is unlikely to end anytime soon. I also expect them to continue to evolve over the course of the next season, as they did this past one. Anything less just wouldn’t feel right.

Stats from Hockey-Reference.com, NHL.com

Featured Image Credit: Josh Tessler