We’re looking at every player on the Canes roster and sharing our thoughts on whether we’d keep them or cut them (CBA rules be damned for this). Set aside all the thoughts of what free agents are available and who could be brought in. For this series, we’re strictly looking at should we keep each player were we building the team starting now. Today, we’re talking forwards. Defense and goalies will get their own posts later this week. (Ed. Note: Here’s our look at the defense and the goalies.)

Sebastian Aho

sebastian aho

Seabass looks confused as to why he’s even on this list.

Derek: This is the biggest no-brainer on the team for me. Aho is only 20 years old, on his entry level deal for one more season, and is arguably already the best player on this team. Yea, we should probably keep this guy around for a while. I’m staying on the Aho Train.

Tom: At 20 years old, the guy has essentially put the team on his back as much as possible. The only things it seems he can’t do are to convince Bill Peters to let him play center and paint cat feet. Of course you keep him.

Meg: Yes, of course they should keep him. And while I don’t think he’ll ever be the first line center the team needs, he does need to start playing more in the middle. And by more, I mean, for a full game or three, not just a few minutes in a line blender.

Dan: So young, so great, so clutch. Aho has been one of the two strongest points of this team in a season that’s been full of…well, not strong points. Keep this cute little baby boy on  as the magical hockey elf on the shelf and he’ll be instrumental to many seasons going forward. The only person I think is a stronger keep than Aho is Teravainen. Can’t wait to talk about – OH LOOK AT THAT

Pat: Is this a serious question?

Oliver: Uhhh, yeah keep (for a long long time). How I really feel:  


Teuvo Teravainen

Derek: While we’d like to see Turbo more consistent, we guess it makes sense that you can’t just spam the speed burst all season. He’s still short of peak forward production years and leads the team in points. Yea, let’s hold on to this guy.

Tom: Remember when it took Turbo a little over seven minutes to score a natural hat trick? It would seem to me, and maybe I’m wrong here, that on a team where there seems to be some difficulty scoring goals, you might want to keep someone like that.

Meg: Last year I maybe could have seen logic in an argument to cut him as part of a “hockey” trade to acquire a center, but he’s grown into a guy that has the potential to be first line talent alongside Sebastian Aho. After the season he’s had this year, he’s part of the core going forward. So yes, keep him.

Dan: He and Aho are the shining stars of this team this season. The Peanut Butter and Jelly. The Hall and Oates. The…um..Captain and Tennille (Can we take a second and ask why he’d go by The Captain instead of his real name, Darryl Dragon? The Dragon and Tennille is a much better name). Anyway, you keep Tricky Tallisker, no question.

Pat: Same question as with Aho.

Oliver: Teuvo has been one of the few bright spots in a remarkably trying season. He’s only getting better and is still young. Plus having him pisses off B-Hawks fans.

Jeff Skinner

Derek: This town isn’t big enough for both Skinner and Bill Peters. Skinner’s having a down year, but he’s so seldom put in a position to play to his strengths. I’m sticking with Skinner as we know how dangerous of a goal scorer he can be.

Tom: I mean, we’re talking about getting rid of him for nothing or keeping him, right? I get that Skinner’s game may not be completely well-rounded, but he also has the kind of scoring talent that teams seek out. Generally, you try to adapt to use a tool like that. You don’t get rid of a Ferrari because it can’t tow a boat. Keep please.

Meg: Despite his streakiness and his tendency toward defensive lapses, he’s currently our most dangerous forward. But Skinner is going into the final year of his deal, and I’m not sure he’s going to want to stick around if he’s going to be banished to the third line in perpetuity under Bill Peters’ system. So if Peters goes and Skinner agrees to stay? Yes, by all means, keep our franchise player. But if he decides not to re-sign, the best thing would be to recoup as much value as possible by trading him. Unfortunately that’s not as easy as people think, since he has a no move clause and is in full control of where he goes. If I’m the GM, I do everything in my power to keep him.

Dan: Convince him to stay, which I am worried may be tough. Keep Tom Holland Jeff Skinner, please.

Pat: Now is the part of this piece where I remind all the Caniacs and hockey fans I have #UnpopularOpinions. It’s time to trade Skinner to a contender. Unless you can sign him to a 3-4 year deal, it’s time to discuss what jersey he’d like to wear next. Skinner is a great player I want to see stick around, but he’s not a cornerstone player. And unless your name is Chiarelli it’s easier to find a scoring winger than any other position in the leave. With a No Move Clause that kicked in before this season Jeff Controls his future. But I’m sure he could use a fresh start like the Former Captain in Minnesota.

Oliver: While streaky, Skinner is a top flight offensive talent that is not easily acquired. Keep. The sheer amount of pucks that boy flings toward the net is impressive. Did you know that there are only four players in the NHL that have more shot attempts at 5 on 5 than Jeff Skinner since he joined the league? Ovechkin, Burns, Karlsson, and Amanda Kessel’s brother. Pretty damn good group to be a part of. Part of why this team has struggled this season is Jeffrey’s poor 5 on 5 shooting percentage (6.1%), which is the third worst in his career. The last two seasons he shot 8.7% and 9.9% and this offensively anemic team couldn’t afford to lose the goals that this year’s slip caused. Bet on him rebounding next year.

Jordan Staal

Derek: While his offensive numbers aren’t what many expect from a guy like Jordan, he does so many things so well that we’d be fools to get rid of him.

Tom: I think you have to think of it like this – if Jordan Staal were on the market this coming offseason, would you drop a 5 year, $30 million contract on him? I mean, that’s a lot for someone who struggles to get to the 50 point barrier, but then you look at a Ryan Kesler, who will get nearly $7 million a year to do essentially the same thing, but is four years older. I’m comfortable keeping that player on my team.

Meg: He’s risen to the challenge of captaincy and has been consistent and dependable point-producer despite being overslotted and failing to capitalize on many scoring opportunities. Yeah, I wish he’d park his ass in front of the net more often. And yeah, his contract is kinda dubious. But, dammit, the captain stays.


Pat: As long as he is not the best Center on the team, he can stay.

Oliver: Keep keep keep. He’s so strong on the puck and can turn basic bitch fourth line grinders into a dominant puck cycling line (miss you Nesty).

Justin Williams

Derek: I will always love Justin Williams. He stays and I won’t hear of anything else.

Tom: Why would you take Justin Williams off any team? Hell, let him coach the team if he wants. He stays.

Meg: As long as he’s productive, there’s no reason not to keep him. And slap a letter on his chest, because he deserves it.

Dan: He took over Ron Hainsey’s job as Hockey Dad. Keep him.

Pat: he seems to give a damn and wanted this challenge to push this franchise into relevance. Let him start next year on the club.

Oliver: He’s done what he was supposed to and hasn’t shown much sign of age. Keep.

Elias Lindholm

Derek: I’m really torn on this one since Lindholm is an RFA at the end of this season. Last year, the Swedish Beast (boy, where did THAT go?) was a primary assist machine. This season, he might not eclipse 40 points. Who knows how much money and term he and his agent will demand, but I think I’d keep Lindy around for a couple more years if we can get him for $4 million or less.

Tom: I think if Elias Lindholm is a second-round pick, no one has an issue with his performance. He plays a solid game that steadily improves, but just hasn’t clicked yet. He’s not Sean Monahan, but that’s not his fault. Keep.

Meg: Since he’s been given more time at center, I think he’s become more valuable, if for nothing more than center depth. My issue is that we’ve seen enough of his game now to know that he can’t be relied upon to score consistently like Aho or Teravainen, and he just doesn’t have the lethal touch like Skinner does. But as you know, despite his draft position, I’ve come to accept that he’s got a quick release and is a special talent in his own right. Keep him unless you can package him in a hockey deal for an upgrade at forward or in goal.

Dan:  I like Lindholm, I do, but I haven’t seen enough this season from him to make me say resign him since he’s an RFA. Cut him, find someone more consistent.

Pat: Lindy is the most consistent forward in 2017-18. Keep the Apple Farm open.

Oliver: Lindholm will probably be good for around 40~ points a season and he’s dependable defensively. So there’s definitely value there and I like him on the Canes. That being said, he’s not in the Aho/Teravainen/Skinner/JStaal group, and if moving him helped the team fix a bigger problem then I wouldn’t be mad.

Brock McGinn

Derek: Brock has been one of the Canes better forwards down the stretch this season. While his play hasn’t translated to many goals or assists, his physical style has been one of the few things that you can count on when you watch a Canes game. Keep him.

Tom: Watch the Canes season ticket video, and you’ll see a lot of McGinn. I get it – he’s the type of player that fans like – he hits, he’s willing to throw down, and he seems to be willing to do whatever it takes to get ice time. Ideally, this is what Bill Peters wanted to see out of everyone, but that type of thing only really works on bubble players and ends up getting him overslotted to try to inspire others. Still worth having on the team, but let’s hope that the next coach plays him for the right reasons.

Meg: I’ve been surprised at McGinn’s level of production this season. He plays the good ol’ hockey boy’s game, but I am concerned at Peters’ usage of his skills. He is frequently overslotted because he can “bang around and make space,” but he lacks the skills of a top six player and frequently hits the post as much as he hits opposing players. He’s the kind of guy who coaches like Peters are irrationally enamored with, sometimes to the detriment of efficient production, but as long as he’s utilized in the right context, I have no issue if he sticks around.

Dan: Sure, keep him. I think he’s a good grinder who may flourish even more under a (fingers crossed) new coach.

Pat: He’s fine until his contact is up. McGinn is exactly what you want to see from an AHL call up at some point. But we’re seeing his ceiling as an NHL player.

Oliver: Brock’s been good this year but I don’t think he’s hard to replace. Keep or don’t keep. It doesn’t matter.

Victor Rask

victor rask

Seen here at the happiest moment of his life

Derek: I don’t know what in the hell happened to Rask after the first month of the 2016-17 season, but can we please have that guy again? Since that month, Rask just seems to drift around with no real purpose or motivation. I see no purpose in keeping him around, especially for $4 million a season until 2022.

Tom: I don’t know. Centers are supposed to be racking up assists, and Rask – averaging a little over 15 minutes a game – got three in the first 36 games of the season. THREE. Defensively, he seems like the same steady performer that he has been every year of his career, but now in year four, his scoring totals are back down to rookie year levels. I say cut – there’s a lot of contract left, and he’s essentially replacement-level right now.

Meg: Long term, Rask doesn’t seem like a fit here beyond third line center, and we’ve got plenty of younger guys in waiting who could replace him for cheaper. I believed that even before the horrendous drop off in his production this season. But it would be difficult to trade him for fair value after the terrible season he’s had. So if you can’t cut him, I say give him one more year and play him on the wing to see if that won’t improve his production.

Dan: I see Rask as another good trade-padding forward who doesn’t help us in many more ways than being the “oh, they included him” guy in a trade. Keep him just to lump him into a trade for someone better.

Pat: Keep him and play him on LW in the top six next season. No forward is hampered more by Bill Peters than Rask. You saw flashes while he briefly played he wing recently, so let’s see what he can do with less defensive responsibility and time to fly the zone.

Oliver: If this team makes moves to improve the forward group this off-season, I think Rask is gone. He doesn’t have the dependability factor that Staal and Lindholm have (nor Aho if they go that route in the middle).

Derek Ryan

Derek: If whoever coaches this team wants to play Derek Ryan on the fourth line, maybe keep him. Problem with that is he’s not strong enough for to win board battles and play against tough competition. I’m beyond tired of seeing Ryan lose puck after puck for 15+ minutes a night.

Tom: I’m not here to make Ryan more of a scapegoat than he already seems to be for a percentage of the fanbase, and he does have value to a limited extent, but he’s pretty much a signal of whether or not this team is a playoff team. If he’s getting top 9 minutes, this isn’t a playoff team. Cut.

Meg: As a fourth line center in an ideal world, he’s fine to keep. As long as he’s in Bill Peters’ system, he won’t be played that way. We have a bunch of guys in Charlotte waiting to play the same position, and keeping him would crowd that center depth. He should’ve been traded at the deadline considering the going rate for similar players. Cut him.

Dan: Cut this dead weight please.

Pat: Goodbye future Seattle Easter Eggs captain.

Oliver: He’d be fine on the fourth line (hmmm soccer-style chant in the works there?). Bill Peters just looks at DR like Chris Farley here and I don’t trust him to not overslot the shit out of him.

Phil Di Giuseppe

Derek: Not really sure what value he brings to the table. There’s nothing I see he’s horrible at, or great at. He plays a handful of minutes each game, and that’s about all he brings to the table beyond lengthy stretches of no production. Cut him, and that’s not just because he went to Michigan.

Tom: I could honestly see PDG serving a useful role on some team. He improved every year in the AHL, and his rookie year with the Hurricanes had him ahead of Brock McGinn on the depth chart. What happened? Part bad luck, part lack of trust from Peters, part deployment? I don’t know – people smarter than me with the hockey things might know. All I know is that right now, he’s on a career path of AHL star/NHL roster filler, and we can let Charlotte worry about those. Cut (and watch him go somewhere and be a 10-15 goal guy).

Meg: The team should’ve put him on waivers. It would have been the best thing for them and for Phil, who I think is more talented than he will ever have the opportunity to show in Raleigh. He won’t be anything more than a healthy scratch here, and he deserves a shot at something better with another team. Cut him, even though I will miss his cellys.

Dan:  I read on a fortune cookie: “PDG has no value”. Can’t argue with wisdom found at Pei Wei. Cut him.

Pat: Meh. He does go to the net, actually throws checks to crest time and space for teammates. But his <em>production</em> can be replaced. Maybe worth a two-way deal, but nothing more.

Oliver: PDGoodbye.

Lee Stempniak

I just Googled “man in his 30s” because that felt like the right call here

Derek: Pretend it’s the trade deadline and get him out of here. Whether it was injuries, or Rask returning to Earth, the Stempniak project hasn’t been successful. Bye buddy.

Tom: When he came in last year, it was as a complementary piece because the team didn’t have the depth and, to be honest, the team needed to spend money to get above the cap floor. It was fine last year. Didn’t work out this year. He’ll be a PTO for someone this summer. Cut.

Meg: That Stempniak has been able to come back and play after what I thought were career-ending injury issues is awesome. His point production? Not so much. I feel bad that he’s been bounced around so much, but I think this is the end of the road for him in Raleigh. He’s another one of those guys where I have no clue why he wasn’t traded at the deadline.

Dan: Ren and Stimpy? More like Rend that Stempy and get him off this team. Cut.

Pat: I feel like Tenacious D has something to say about this: Bye Lee

Oliver: Dundon knows we need to upgrade the forwards. He’s gone.

Lucas Wallmark

Derek: I think Wallmark can be a third line center someday. Between his ceiling, his age, and his contract, I see no reason to cut him at this point.

Tom: I’d like to see Wallmark get a chance with regular ice time. I think he has the Rask skill set with maybe even a higher ceiling. Keep.

Meg: I could take him or leave him. I’d like for him to see more NHL ice time before I make a judgement call on his long-term fit with the Canes. I’d also like to see him get some special teams work. Sure, let’s keep him.

Dan: I dunno, I haven’t seen enough of him for an opinion either way.

Pat: 3C or GTFO.

Oliver: Keep. He should be our 4th line center next year and a solid PKer.

Joakim Nordstrom

Derek: LOL CUT

Tom: He’s not that bad, is he? Like, I get that he’s not exactly a scoring machine, but man – what has Bill Peters done to you? I cut you, and may God have mercy on your soul.

Meg: What does he do here? Kill penalties? Lol, no. I love you Tilda, but it’s time to move on.

Dan: Get back to making Wes Anderson movies, and get out of the NHL, thanks.

Pat: I guess I have to ask, are we serious here? I’m trying to keep the word count down and I feel like this is a rhetorical question. Foegele can take over his P.K. work today and the team wouldn’t miss him.

Oliver: I mean he’s a good PKer and defensively but ideally we upgrade forwards and players like McGinn and Wallmark get slotted down on the fourth line and push sub-replacement players like Nordy out.