An Introduction and Reflections on Canes Prospect Camp

(Ed. note: this was written by Patrick Clarke, aka @CanesProspects.)

Part of my hockey background is in coaching and officiating, where I developed an eye for evaluating talent. Enjoying individual skill development, sometimes I like watch practices and games, and focus on individual players rather than follow the action in the play.

I remember officiating games Riley Stillman played at age 8-10. He was a smoother skate than his two-time Stanley Cup Champion father Cory was at any point in his career. Easily the best skater on the ice at times. He didn’t need the puck a lot to contribute, and he had a way of helping his linemates. In those days he was a forward on travel teams before his father was traded to Ottawa and the family relocated to Florida in the subsequent offseason.

With all due respect to Josh Wesley, he was the first local kid I identified as a player with the potential to go pro. The talent was there immediately, and he progressed every time I saw him play. I made sure to follow his career when he left the area and eventually played for the Oshawa Generals.

Riley was drafted in the fourth round, #114 overall by Florida Panthers in June.

Thinking the younger Stillman had draft or pro potential wasn’t groundbreaking. Coming from an NHL family seems to pay huge dividends for kids wanting to play at another level. But I still was able to see talent early on, and that’s when I started to gain interest in higher levels of minor and junior hockey.

So when I sat down at PNC Arena for the Development Camp scrimmage, I set out to focus on 4-6 individuals, then not many performances that jumped out to me beyond that. Here three general observations and scouting notes on individual players.
Three Observations:

1) Goaltending Shines

I’m not someone who questioned why the Hurricanes drafted two goalies in June. After all, I’m a card-carrying member of the Goalies’ Union. Continue reading An Introduction and Reflections on Canes Prospect Camp

Cheaters Never Win Podcast- End of Season Edition

It’s always bittersweet when we wrap up the podder for the season, but hey, at least we had fun w/ this one. Mr. Workrate aka Tom Edwards joins us in the studio as we give our take on the draft, free agency, and dev camp. We answer your #CheatMail questions, and give you a sneak peak into whats next for Thanks for sticking through another season with us. We’ll be back in a few weeks w/ our favorite summer guest, John Forslund.

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The Voices We Grow Up On

Sometimes, when you are in the middle of something very special each and every day, you don’t know how very good you have it.  Too often, only when a layer of security that has been part of the fabric of your day to day life is ripped away do you really understand just how amazing that layer was.  I feel like that is what happened to the Caniac Nation today.  With the announcement that Mike Maniscalco, host of Hurricanes pre-game Storm Watch and post-game Aftermath, was let go today by Capital Broadcasting, we realized the stark reality of just how good we have had it from a broadcast perspective.  The column below is one that I have been laboring to put the proper words to for the better part of 5 months.   With the stark realization that we may no longer have Mike Maniscalco covering our team, it seemed like an appropriate day to release it.  Thanks for all you have done for Section 328 and the Carolina Hurricanes, Mike.  You will be missed.

I’m going to show my age here a bit.  As a kid of the 80’s and 90’s, I grew up on sports radio.  I recall lying in my bed late at night with a Walkman and tuning into to a scratchy feed of Mike Lange broadcasting the Pittsburgh Penguins game and telling me of the exploits of Mario Lemieux and Paul Coffey.   I vividly remember the first time I came across a loud brash late night show called On The Bench w/ Scott Ferrell and knowing that was what I wanted to do when I grew up.  The voices painted a picture.  They spoke to me and made me part of something bigger.  To this day I’m immediately transported back to being a kid whenever I hear either of those two gentlemen on the radio.  It’s like being part of a special group with a secret language.  If I tell someone to “scratch my back with a hacksaw” and they get it, I automatically assume they are good people.  If I tell someone that I want a “shot and a beer shot and a beer shot and a beer, eye gouge” and they tell me to “Shake it up…” I know I’ve met a comrade.  It’s kinda like this little hockey world we live in where you get to know the vernacular, the voices, and the great people associated with the game.
This past hockey season was one of fairly monumental proportions for myself and my family.  It was the first season in which my 1 year old son regularly attended hockey games.  He grew from a crawler to a walker to a walking talking hockey loving toddler in the time it took to reach game 82.  But what I didn’t realize is the impact that the voices of the game would have on this little mind quickly soaking everything up.  It was around game 45 when I noticed a change.  When we were watching games at home, and Michelle McMahon would come on the screen, my crawling, toddling going everywhere little man would freeze, and stare at the screen in amazement.  I’m not sure if its because he is a fellow ginger, if it was the tone of her voice or what, but he immediately became enthralled with our Pre-game show host.  Then, when John Forslund would make a big “WARD SAYS NO” call or even give us a patented “Hey Hey Waddaya Say” my little man would giggle and clap and get all excited.  Then one evening it just hit me like a ton of bricks.  These voices that he is hearing right now, just before he turns two, are going to be the voices of hockey that he grows up on.  These are going to be the calls and the experiences that he remembers as the start of his sports fandom.  Now I know 1 year olds don’t remember stuff, but I can tell you this; Before the age of two, my boy goes and grabs his shoes every time we say the word arena, and his favorite thing to watch on a mobile device is the Carolina Hurricanes app and anything involving Michelle McMahon.  These are going to be the bigger than life people and voices that my kid gets to grow up with.  The voice of hockey in his world is going to be future Hockey Hall of Famer John Forslund.  Michelle McMahon will be his first “anchor crush”.  Chuck Kaiton will be the voice of hockey in the car and the guy he learns pronunciations from.   Mike Maniscalco will be the voice he falls asleep to on the way home from the game every night. A hall of famer, a future hall of famer, and someone who is bound to end up on ESPN one day are the voices that my kid will grow up with.  I can’t think of a greater group of not only voices, but people for my kid to have as role models and people to learn the game from.
But you know what I fear?  Like the night I discovered that Scott Ferrell had moved from my one spot on the AM dial I could find him, I fear that one day these voices could disappear from my kids mind.  We have it so good here in Raleigh from a broadcast perspective, maybe too good.  For those who have paid attention, it seems inevitable that John Forslund is being prepped to be the future voice of hockey in America when Doc Emrick finally hangs up the mic.  Michelle McMahon is a rising star as seen by her coverage of NBA and TNT College Sports during the summer.  Chuck Kaiton hasn’t missed a game since I was listening to AM on my walkman but how long can that run continue?  How long will this organization be able to retain such talented people to continue to deliver us the coverage we have grown to expect.  We are so lucky to have these voices. Our broadcast team is engrained in the community deeper than most and so accessible by each and every Hurricanes fan.  We’ve had this now for 18 years with John and Chuck and almost 10 with Mike Maniscalco.

I would like to express a very heartfelt thank you to John Forslund, Michelle McMahon, Chuck Kaiton and Mike Maniscalco.  You don’t know the amount of times your voices have put a smile on my little boys face, and there’s no amount of wins or losses that will ever be more important than that.  So take a minute friends and appreciate what we have in our broadcast teams. Just for once give them a break about the latest trade or arguing who should be staring in net, and just appreciate what they bring to our game, our community, and our lives. When you get a chance, say thank you to our broadcasters because we are very fortunate to have them be a part of Caniac Nation.

Cheaters Never Win Podcast- Stan Bowman Theater Edition

Horrible Stan Bowman Impersonations – Check
Gushing over Ron Francis – Check
Getting educated by @ShaneMalloy of SiriusXM NHL Radio – Check
Your #Cheatmail answers – Check
A damn good time had – Double Check

We hope you enjoy this weeks pre-draft episode, because we had a lot of fun doing it for you…

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Francis Robs Chicago Blind by Acquiring Teuvo and Bickell

On Sunday, the eyes of hockey watched Jim Rutherford’s Pittsburgh Penguins (so weird to say that) lift the Stanley Cup, and snickered as they wrote their feel-good narratives about Rutherford showing he still has value. Those dumb Hurricanes – what were they thinking when they ran JR out of town? It doesn’t matter – they’ll be in Las Vegas/Quebec City/Seattle/Bismark soon anyway.

It took three days for Ron Francis to offer up a Costco-size can of STFU to anyone who was questioning the Canes decision to move on from Rutherford, as the team (and Francis) took another huge step forward, dealing a second and third round selection to the Chicago Blackhawks for forward Teuvo Teravainen and Bryan Bickell’s contract (Bickell himself may also come). Continue reading Francis Robs Chicago Blind by Acquiring Teuvo and Bickell

Cheaters Never Win Podcast- Sündhammer Edition

Summertime is here and the draft is around the corner. We have lots to talk about in Caniac Nation and there is no one better to talk about the Canes than Mike Sundheim, VP of Communications. We talk draft, we talk beer, and we have a lot of fun behind the mics. Join us and please, we would be so thankful if you gave us a quick rating on your listening platform of choice and shared this with a friend or two.

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The Resurgence of Jeff Skinner

Old man Skinner. Our ever-smiling scorer has seen a lot during his days as a Carolina Hurricane. He has weathered concussions, trade speculation, and the departure of every player, save one, on the team that was there before him. He has endured criticisms about his maturity, his ability to play a sound defensive game, and that, not even out of his early 20s, he’s lost his scoring touch.

It’s been an up and down road for Jeff Skinner‘s early Canes career, but the 2015-16 season saw him firmly in control of his talents and he had his finest season since his Calder trophy winning campaign in 2010-11. Look past the narratives and preconceived notions about him and celebrate that we have a truly dynamic, natural offensive threat on our team and realize that he, wizened in his veteran Canes status, should be in strong consideration for an A on his sweater next season. If you think the A is an outrageous proposition, then revel in the fact that, as the Canes begin to rebuild their forward core, no one thing may benefit more than Jeff Skinner’s point totals.

credit: Jamie Kellner

The fun stuff.

Finally able to play a long stretch of healthy hockey, Jeff Skinner’s offensive creativity was on full display from December on. There were many times during the latter half of the season where Skinner would use his skating ability and speed to create something out of nothing and I would be reminded how special of a player he is and how strange it was that I actually needed reminding. If not for past streakiness-likely due to concussions-I doubt Skinner’s scoring ability would ever be in doubt.

Here’s where Jeff ranked among all NHLers for the past season:

Skinner 5v5 15-16 NHL Ranks
Goals per hour (G60) T-22nd (with Tavares)
Primary assists per hour (A160) T-18th (with Thornton)
Primay points per hour (P160) T-8th (with Jagr)
Shots on goal per hour (iSF60) 10th
Takeaways 2nd
individual Corsi For (iCF) T-12th
individual Corsi For per hour (iCF60) 15th

(from & war-on-ice)

Now imagine if Skinner had been on a line with Victor Rask and Phil Di Giuseppe since October and think about where those numbers may be. Not only is 53 our best pure goal scorer, he may be our best play maker as well, although Noah Hanifin may soon pass him out in that regard and who knows what NHL ceiling Sebastian Aho has on his creativity. Twenty of Skinner’s 23 assists were of the primary nature, and his 17 primaries at 5v5 were the most on the team.

Continue reading The Resurgence of Jeff Skinner

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