Need To Know: 2022 Canes Training Camp

If you’re feeling like you might have missed anything in terms of player personnel, a good place to start would be the team’s official offseason player tracker.

From the last moment season ended it was known that the team faced some challenges in free agency. Vincent Trocheck, Nino Niederreiter and Tony DeAngelo all needed new deals after quality seasons and the team was already tight to the salary cap.

Now, none of the three will be in Canes sweaters this upcoming season and yet the consensus is that the team’s trajectory did not drastically sink. In fact, it may be better.

How?

On July 13, the first day of free agency, the organization made some major moves – and not by way of signing players in need of a new home.

While the team did bring aboard forward Ondrej Kasethey also landed six-time All-Star Brent Burns from San Jose, seemingly immediately filling their void atop the right side of their blue line. Hours later Don Waddell and crew shocked the fan base by then assisting the Vegas Golden Knights with their salary cup constraints, receiving Max Pacioretty and Dylan Coghlan for … essentially nothing.

In August restricted free agents Ethan Bear and Martin Necas Both reached agreements with the team, concluding the big business moves that needed to be handled before the 2022-23 campaign. Then, to put a bow on the summer month transactions, the team brought in Paul Stastny – a versatile addition to their already strong forward group.

So, what’s left to be answered as we embark on the final stretch leading up to the October 12 season opener?

Deciding The Defense

When the 37-year-old Burns was acquired this summer Rod Brind’Amour and Don Waddell both said that the doctrine was to slot him alongside Jaccob Slavin on the team’s top pair. Given that when Brady Skjei and Brett Pesce were both healthy last year they played every game together, it would seem logical to have Slavin and Burns logging top pair minutes as opposed to having those four split among three pairs.

As we all know though, plans change and there is certainly a shot that listed top four does not come to fruition.

Regardless of if it does or not, the team will need three more defensemen to round out their group. They’ll most likely get there by choosing from the following, if they intend to carry the maximum 23 players (listed alphabetically):

  • Ethan Bear
  • Jalen Chatfield
  • Dylan Coghlan
  • Calvin de Haan
  • Gregory Dronov
  • William Lagesson
  • Maxime Lajoie

Talk about options.

Let’s get into the logistics before we talk about skill set.

Both Calvin de Haan and Gregori Dronov are joining the team on PTOs (professional tryouts) for camp.

What’s a PTO?

A professional tryout (PTO) is an agreement between a team and a player that can last for as long as 25 games, but can be terminated at any time. For de Haan, it’s an opportunity to earn another NHL contract after playing the last three years in Chicago. For Dronov, it’s his first shot at earning a North American contract following parts of six seasons in his native Russia.

Why does the team have two PTO players if there are five other options to potentially round out the defensive group?

What de Haan and Dronov both bring to the table, in addition to their skills, is their left-handedness.

Of the above batch, Bear, Coghlan and Chatfield, all of whom have NHL experience, are all right-handed.

Does handedness really matter?

Yes and no.

While it would not be completely unheard of for the team to have two right-handed shots paired together and then have the seventh defenseman also be right-handed, the most common pairing is to have a left-handed shot working with a right-handed shot – a la Slavin and Burns, Skjei and Pesce.

What about Lajoie and Lagesson?

Both are left-handed and will have the opportunity to make the team, but both are also on two-way contracts and are eligible to be assigned to the Chicago Wolves (AHL).

Jake Gardiner?

Although he was cleared to return to playing earlier this summer after missing the entirety of the 2021-22 season due to injury, he is not expected to be with the team in training camp – thus, not an option at this time.

Finalizing The Forwards

Along similar lines, the team will start the camp with 30 forwards. Again, if the team intends to carry the maximum 23 players, they’ll eventually have to cut that to 14 – four lines of three, plus two extras.

In alphabetical order, the below 11 are largely expected to be among those 14:

  • Sebastian Aho
  • Jesper Fast
  • Seth Jarvis
  • Ondrej Kase
  • Jesperi Kotkaniemi
  • Jordan Martinook
  • Martin Necas
  • Jordan Staal
  • Paul Stastny
  • Andrei Svechnikov
  • Teuvo Teravainen

Who could round out those last three spots?

  • Jack Drury
  • Ryan Dzingel
  • Stefan Noesen
  • Lane Pederson
  • Derek Stepan
  • Malte Stromwall

A couple of Wolves potentially making the jump?

The case to be built for both Drury and Noesen begins with asking if either have anything left to prove at the American Hockey League level. Drury, who is just 22, was dynamite for Chicago (AHL) during the regular season but then played at a new level during the postseason. Producing 24 points in 18 playoff games on the way to a championship, one would have to think that the next, natural step in progression for his career would be an opportunity to have an every night NHL spot. Him scoring two goals in two games last December for Carolina doesn’t hurt, either.

For Noesen, his 48 goals for the Wolves were the most by any AHL skater since the 2009-10 season. Since being an every night player for the New Jersey Devils during the 2017-18 campaign his career hasn’t had a ton of stability, going through waivers several times and playing for Pittsburgh, San Jose and Toronto.

Lane Pederson?

Speaking of the American League, could Lane Pederson be another player that earns a full-time NHL gig?

Acquired from San Jose with Burns in mid-July, the right-handed winger is looking to translate his success in the top developmental league to the big club.

Over the last four seasons, split between Arizona and San Jose, the undrafted 25-year-old totaled 116 points in 142 AHL games. Last year he played a career-high 29 NHL games with the struggling Sharks.

Return of the Zing?

Another player that spent time with the Sharks last year and is now vying for a forward role in Raleigh is Ryan Dzingel.

After playing 75 games with the franchise from 2019-2021, the 30-year-old was dealt to Ottawa in exchange for Alex Galchenyuk and Cedric Paquette. Over the last 19 months Dzingel has since completed tenures with the Senators, Sharks and Coyotes, before electing to re-sign with Carolina this summer.

Room For Step?

A 2021-22 fan favorite, Derek Stepan is hoping that the team has a place for him in 2022-23.

Bringing a veteran presence and an understanding that his position may be different from anything he’d experienced in his career thus far, Stepan played in just 58 games under Rod Brind’Amour last year. A natural center, the 32-year-old worked on the wing as well, given that the team’s roster included Sebastian Aho, Vincent Trocheck, Jordan Staal and Jesperi Kotkaniemi ahead of him down the middle. Although Trocheck has moved on, the potential emergence of Jack Drury and the signing of Paul Stastny both present hurdles for Step to get playing time.

However, he does have familiarity with the team’s systems and Brind’Amour last year said that he handled his situation of being in and out of the lineup irregularly “better than anyone he has ever seen”. He’ll start camp on a PTO with hopes of that turning into a standard player contract.

A Dark Horse?

Another player coming to camp on a two-way contract is Malte Stromwall, who comes returns to North America for the first time since 2017.

What makes him an interesting player to watch is that he had nearly a point-per-game in the Continental Hockey League (KHL) last season on a very okay Dinamo Minsk team. Scoring 19 times in 38 games, does the Swede have what it takes to translate that goal-scoring ability to smaller ice?

Pacioretty?

Not listed above is superstar Max Pacioretty, who is expected to be sidelined with an Achilles tear until about the All-Star break.

In The Crease

The last line of defense for the Canes is the position group with what should be the least amount of questions going into the season – at least in terms of who the personnel will be. Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta were the best one-two punch in the league last year, winning the Jennings Trophy for the lowest combined goals against average (GAA).

What some will undoubtedly be wondering though is can they stay healthy?

Andersen’s first campaign as a Cane came to a close on Saturday, April 16 against the Colorado Avalanche, where it was later revealed he tore his MCL. He got close, but ultimately did not play again at any point in the next six weeks.

His counterpart, Anti Raanta, carried the load admirably the rest of the way before he too went down with injury. An MCL sprain in Game 7 against New York spoiled the first 6-8 weeks of his summer, but he, like Andersen, are both projected to be at 100% for Thursday’s first day of on-ice activies.

A shining light that came of the two going down was the first glimpse at star prospect Pyotr Kochetkov. A truly truly calendar year for the team’s 2019 second round pick began in July of 2021 with KHL Training Camp. His campaign with Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod lasted until February when the league abruptly decided to cancel the remainder of their regular season schedule. With his club on the outside looking in, the organization then got Kochetkov to North America, where he’d immediately catch eyes by going 13-1-1 in his first 15 AHL appearances. Then he went 3-0-0 in his first three NHL games after Andersen and Raanta made their way to the shelf.

While his impressive numbers left many Canes fans wanting to see more of him, the most likely scenario is that he spends another year in Chicago acclimating to North American ice. Should one of the two aforementioned options go down though, many know they can have full trust in the 23-year-old.


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