The ‘Canes beat the Ottawa Senators Monday night by a score of 6-3. Ottawa is battling for a Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. The ‘Canes are out of playoff contention, but they have no quit in them. They scored a staggering six goals in Ottawa, and had 13 different players register points. Six of those players with points on Monday night are under the age of 25. It isn’t clear now if the ‘Canes are going to blow this team up or if they are working towards building on top of the mix of youth and veteran talent they have on the current roster. Right now, the ‘Canes need to rely on the younger players on their roster to prove that they belong in Raleigh.
Andrej Nestrasil is one of those young players who has shown his worth of late for the ‘Canes. Against the Senators, Nestrasil had 3-points (1-goal and 2-assists) and has 3-goals in his last four games. The young Czech forward started with the Red Wings earlier this season and was claimed off waivers in November. Since then he has spent sometime on the IR and on a conditioning stint in the AHL for the ‘Canes. He has played in a total 28-games this season and has 10-points on 4-goals and 6-assists. He has only played 15-games with the ‘Canes (His other 13-games were with the Red Wings). His stats don’t blow you out of the water but Nestrasil is showing that he fits well into Bill Peters’ system in Raleigh. Nestrasil is a physically big player that can play at both ends of the ice, and has shown good hands and an aggressive ability to drive to the net. If he continues to progress he can become a second or third line guy that the ‘Canes can rely on. Prime example of his aggressiveness is his most recent goal against the Senators.
Michal Jordan and Elias Lindholm
Michal Jordan gets annoyed when people call him “Michael Jordan”. Jordan is 24-years old and spent most of his career in the AHL. He scored his first career goal against the Senators, and is making a case as part of the future ‘Canes blue line. He has a small sample size with only 18-games this season, and only has 3-points. He brings more to the defensive side of the ice. He has good vision, and plays smart hockey. Last night at the end of a long shift on an expiring power play, Jordan stopped a puck moving down the boards on a Senators breakout pass before heading to the bench. It might not seem like a big deal but Mika Zibanejad was coming out of the penalty box with a full head of steam and if that puck would have reached Zibanejad, he would have had clear ice to the ‘Canes goal. Jordan was definitely not a passenger last night.
— Mike Sundheim (@MikeSundheim) February 17, 2015
Elias Lindholm is one of the ‘Canes with a lot of potential and a bright future. He played a lot on the Staal line before being removed and put on a line with Jeff Skinner. Lindholm should help Skinner get his scoring touch back. Since moving from that first line there has been struggles with production from the top line. Last night the top line all finished in the minus rating. Lindholm has 25-points this year which is already a career high but it is a tad underwhelming for the hype that is swirled around the second year Swedish forward. If Jiri Tlusty gets moved at the trade deadline it will be interesting to see if Lindholm finds himself back on the first line. Either way, Lindholm is a strong two-way player that will continue to grow in the ‘Canes new system.
The Youth Movement is a Good One in Raleigh
Victor Rask sat out last night as a healthy scratch, but Bill Peters said it was just to give the rookie center a rest in this grinding season. Rask is another young talented player on the ‘Canes that will be a big part of the team’s future. Getting younger players ice time this season is good for the future of the team. They are all showing they want to play at a high level in the NHL. The inexperienced players on this team are skating hard and not playing as “passengers” in the words of Bill Peters. Jeff Skinner is starting to score goals again and is becoming more comfortable in the new system. It is late in the season, but Skins strong play is a good sign for the team if the ‘Canes decide the winger is in their future. The ‘Canes need a youth movement for the rest of the season. This years draft is one of the strongest in years, and Carolina will have an early draft pick which will add to the youthful talent of this team. Adding more young skill to the NHL squad and the AHL system will help combine with veterans like the Staal brothers. Right now, it is about getting players that want to buy into Bill Peters system which has been successful for the ‘Canes since January. For the rest of the season, the ‘Canes need to rely on the youth of their roster to start proving themselves and give fans a glimpse of the future.
Philip is a Sports Journalist covering the Pittsburgh Penguins. Duquesne University Journalism Grad 2013.