Gold: Expanding your mind – WRALSportsFan.com

By Adam Gold radio host 99.9 the Fan

In the mood for a quickie? I know, I know, who isn’t?

Well, with the Carolina Hurricanes having submitted their list of protected players for Wednesday’s expansion draft I have some rapid fire thoughts for you to file away/trash out of hand.

Adam, when are you going to stop talking about the vaccine? It’s a personal choice.

No, nimrod, protected from the Seattle Kraken’s expansion draft. Now, go get the shot and stay healthy.

The Hurricanes protected Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen, Jordan Staal, Andrei Svechnikov, Vincent Trocheck, Jesper Fast, Warren Foegele, Jaccob Slavin, Brett Pesce, Brady Skjei and Alex Nedeljkovic.

All but one of those is a bit of a surprise as I was certain that the team would try to trade Foegele this week rather than leave him exposed, but they are trying to work out a multi-year contract for the 25-year old winger from Markham, Ontario. Warren has 35 goals in 200 career games and is still more about promise and potential than production heading into his 4th NHL season.

He can be great on the forecheck, he’s skilled at killing penalties and he always plays hard. But, he doesn’t always play smart and his positive impact on games is sporadic. The most frustrating part of Foegele’s game is that at 6’2”, 200 lbs., he really should be more of a physical presence on the ice. There’s not a lot of rugged, or grit to his game and until that comes, it’s going to be hard for him to reach his potential.

Yet, if Carolina can find the right number for him — the team hopes in the $2.25/year range — he could be a bottom six fixture for the next couple of seasons.

So….

Jake Bean, Nino Niederreiter, Steven Lorentz or Morgan Geekie, which of these players will don the very impressive kits of the Seattle Kraken next season?

Geekie just signed a 2-way contract, so I’m a little surprised the Hurricanes didn’t protect him. He’s a mediocre skater at this point in his NHL career. But, that can improve with training and added strength. The real positive about Geekie’s game is his smarts. He knows how to play. He’s sort of a right-handed Janne Kuokkanen, a former 2nd round pick by, then Canes GM, Ron Francis who was traded to the Devils for Sami Vatanen at the deadline last season.

Why take him: Upside. He’s a winning player who understands how to play both ends of the rink who only needs to improve his skating to maybe becoming a 3rd line center.

Steven Lorentz was a bit of a revelation this year as an energy player, disruptor on the 4th line. He only had 8 points in 45 games this year, but he largely centered a 4th line that did a lot of good things in terms of changing momentum within games and in spite of a lack of ice time, helped to generate quality scoring chances. He’s also big and plays the game with so much joy that he’s just a player you want to keep around.

Why take him: Super kid, hard worker, great attitude and you can plug him in on your fourth line right now and not worry about him.

Nino Niederreiter scored 20 goals this year for the Hurricanes, second on the team during the regular season. He scored 4 times on the power play, 29 of his points came at even strength and four of his goals were game winners. But, in spite of the fact that he was essentially on 25-goal pace twice in a Canes uniform, Niederreiter has been largely invisible in the postseason.

Nino has scored just 3 goals in 29 playoff games with the Hurricanes, and has just 8 points in his last 45 playoff games dating back three years with Minnesota. It’s way easier to find someone to score goals in the regular season than when the games have the steepest consequences.

Why take him: He’s shown he can score 20+ goals (5 times) in the past. He’s got just one year left on his contract so, as long as other teams aren’t wary of adding a player with minimal success in the playoffs, he might be able to fetch a 2nd or 3rd round pick in a deadline trade.

Jake Bean was excellent in his first 15 games after being summoned from the taxi squad when Rod Brind’Amour declared that they “needed to keep guys engaged”. Bean jumped in the line up for Jake Gardiner or Haydn Fleury — since departed for Anaheim — and flourished immediately.

Bean had 2 assists in his first start and totaled 10 points in those 15 games. He showed excellent vision and offensive creativity, was strong in running the power play’s second unit and was starting to look like the player who was drafted 13th overall in 2016. But, over the final 24 games of the regular season, it all went away.

Bean recorded just 2 points, neither on the power play, and just didn’t impact the game positively on either end of the rink. Then, in the postseason, other than that 3rd period power play goal that went off the shorts of Tampa’s Anthony Cirelli, it was more of the same. And, in the elimination game, Bean compiled just 6:41 of ice time.

Why take him: As they say in the trade, “defensemen take a longer time to develop.” In other words, there’s still hope. As an aside, Francis will have two former first round defensemen available to him in Seattle. The Ducks did not protect Haydn Fleury. Remember that Francis was at almost every Carolina home game this year, so if he doesn’t take Bean that says a lot about the future.

Those are the four players with NHL experience that Seattle has to choose from. If I were them, I’d take Lorentz. I think the Hurricanes are hoping they take Niederreiter so they can allocate that money elsewhere as they try to rebuild a blue line that is no longer a strength after the top two.

Next time, we’ll talk about the off season plan to close the gap of the top of the Eastern Conference.