In a continuing series, giving the Canes a mid-term grade, here is the second fifth of the Canes numerical roster:
#12 Eric Staal -- C-
It looks like Staalsy is suffering from Josef Vasicek syndrome. Lead the team in goals one season, then stink it up the next. To be fair, his 34 points (17/17) through 42 games isn't exactly "crappy". It's good enough to be in the top 50 league-wide, but we know that he can do much better. It's not as if he's been robbed a ton of times. It's not as if he's getting bad bounces, or clanging shots off posts. He's just not playing with the fire that we saw last season. There are games (and this is where the Josef Vasicek comparison really works) that he's just out there floating around aimlessly. He's not aggressive enough with the puck, not selfish enough, and just not the same player we saw last winter. Unless he goes completely en fuego in the second half, this season will be a major disappointment in contrast to last year's 100 point break-out season. Two theories to explain his lack of effort this season: (A) -- The "Stanley Cup Hangover" is a real thing, and he's just plum tuckered out. I don't buy that because Viva picked up right where he left off. Roddy is better than he was last winter. Ditto Whitters. No sale there. (2)The "Player tries hardest in a contract year" theory saying that a player in the last year of a contract, and in particular, the last year of a rookie contract will bust his ass, giving 125% each night. When he's rewarded with a nice new long guaranteed contract, he feels like he doesn't have anything to prove. I'm a little more likely to buy that one. Viva and the Captain both just signed long term renewals, and they aren't resting on their laurels. However, they've been around the block a few more times. In Roddy's case, he's been around the block a few thousand more times.
This isn't just sub-par play. This is frequently bad play. We're all really hoping that he can right his own ship, and I actually think that he's simply in a really long slump. I think he'll break out of it, and finish with around 80 points, which will still be a disappointment, but for now, I'm not impressed. Knowing what he can do and what he is is doing forces me to give him a bad grade. I'm reluctant to grade him as high as I did, but 34 points is still pretty good output.
#13 Ray Whitney (aka "The Wizard", aka Whitters, aka "Everybody loves Raymond" -- A+
With his silky smooth passing, his above average speed and his Danny Briere-esque slipperiness, Whitney is a player who gives opposing defensemen fits. He's really fitting in on the first line with Viva and Brind'Amour, and it really is quite a treat to see these three highly skilled players together. I've seen some insanely delicious no-look and behind-the-back passes from Whitney and some incredible skating clinics. Add all of this to the fact that he's a prankster and a generally fun guy, he's definitely a fan favorite. He's also a really well liked guy in the room. He's second on the Canes with 44 (16/28) points, and is on pace to set a new personal best at 86 points. He's in the final year of his contract with the Canes, and we'd love to see him around in 08 and beyond.
#14 Kevyn Adams (aka K-Ads) -- D+
I can't bring myself to give Kevyn a failing grade, but it's awfully tempting. There was lots of gossip about a fight K-Ads had with Bret Hedican during training camp, and how he's been in the coach's dog house since then. The "fight" happened, but there's no dog house business. Nonetheless, K. Adams' play has been -- even on a good day -- bad. He's not bringing energy to the "energy line", and that makes it infinitely easier for the opponents to light it up against our fourth line. His -10 is indicative of just that. Out of the "regular" players, his TOI per game is dead last, and he's still managed to bring up the rear in the +/- category. The doghouse isn't about fisticuffs. The doghouse is about poor play. The fact that he'd been playing through pain with a busted wrist (suffered in Game 7 of the SCF) and required surgery isn't enough of a mitigating factor in this grade. He's just not playing well.
UPDATE -- JANUARY 8 3:30 PM --- Kevyn Adams has been traded to the Phoenix Coyotes for defenseman Dennis Seidenberg
#16 Andrew Ladd -- C-
There was a reason that the Hurricanes traded up to get Ladd in the 2004 draft in front of a huge crowd in Raleigh. He has tremendous potential, and we really started to see that last season and during the playoffs. He's gritty and smart with the puck. He's had a shoulder issue and an emergency appendectomy this season and has played hurt a few nights, and he's been good in small spells. Unfortunately, he's not quite ready to bring intensity every night. I'd like to see him be more physical, and to have better defensive skills. He's going to develop very nicely if the Canes can be patient enough.
# 17 Rod Brind'Amour (aka "Brindy" aka "The Captain", aka "Roddy", aka "Tha Warchief") -- A
At 36 years old, the Captain is in far better shape than anyone else on the team. He's leading the Canes in TOI per game and is among the top three in the League for forwards in that category. His faceoff winning prowess has been beaten to death on this and other pages. No need to rehash that. He's missed a few games with a "lower body" injury, but is still tops on the team with 45 (13/32) points, and he's well on his way to his highest point production in more than 10 years. As is the case with Ray Whitney, he works extremely well with his linemates, and it's no surprise that those three are the top three scorers on the Canes. In fact, their 137 collective points account for 47% of the team's collective point total.
Brind'Amour has been superb from a defensive standpoint, proving that he's deserving of his Selke award last year. His 4 GWG are second on the team and near the top of the League. He might occasionally sit out with an injury, but he never "takes a night off" by mailing it in.
That's it for part two. Tune in tomorrow for part three (Letowski, Commodore, Walker, Belanger, Cole)
The Canes are at home tonight against the 'Yotes, trying to end a two game skid. They're already down 1-0 early in the first frame.
3 years ago