Tweetmail No. 21: First Round, Drafting & UFAs
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Let’s get to it.
Should the Canes be focusing on a defenseman, someone like Haydn Fleury, with their first-round pick more than a forward? – Chris P. (@chrispudsey)
Plain and simple, with the seventh overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft the Canes will be looking to snag the best player available.
Positionally, this player will most likely be a forward. Should there be a defenseman available for the picking at No. 7, Haydn Fleury would be that guy. Of the forwards the Canes could mull over in the seventh slot, Nikolaj Ehlers, Kasperi Kapanen, William Nylander, Brendan Perlini, Nick Ritchie and Jake Virtanen seem to be the probable options. As I said last week, I lean toward Ritchie or Virtanen, but I’m yet a humble web producer and don’t have near the amount of knowledge or background on these kids that the Canes’ amateur scouts have gathered over the past 12-plus months.
Where you might see teams pick more positionally-based is in the later rounds; even then, you don’t want to pick a defenseman for the sake of picking a defenseman if a forward or goalie you have internally ranked much higher is available.
Dramatic or not, changes are ahead under Executive Vice President and General Manager Ron Francis in both the scouts’ focus and the development of players within the system.
“We had our meeting with our scouts,” he said after last week’s coaching news conference. “We talked about some of the things we want them to do that might be a little bit different.”
When Francis took over reins as general manager, he had to jump head-first into a coaching decision and a subsequent extensive and thorough coaching search, draft prep and free agency prep, among other items.
Once the offseason settles down, Francis aims to put in place a master organizational plan that will set in motion a standard for the years to come.
“It’s our plan to put a complete structure in place from when we draft a kid to when he plays in the National Hockey League with us,” Francis said. “We’ll start working on that so that our scouts understand what kind of player we’re drafting for, our development guys understand what we want in the development process, our coaches in Charlotte understand with what we’re trying to do in developing players and our coaches here know what we’re bringing in.
“I think it’s important for us as a smaller market team to have that; we’ve got to have very solid depth guys so if we get into a situation where we can’t afford a guy, we have another guy who can step in and take his place.”
And then – at some point – Francis will get some sleep.
“Let’s just say that sleep has been very overrated,” he said of his first couple of months as GM. “There have been a lot of nights that I’ve been waking up at four or five, and my mind is just going, thinking about everything. But the thing that’s been great for me is that I’ve got a great, hard-working staff.”
Which unrestricted free agent do you think would make the best addition to the Canes? – Andrew S. (@aschnitt53)
This much has been said: this isn’t the best free agent market. And you’ve already seen some teams, including the Canes, lock in some pieces before free agency begins.
Because there isn’t a Parise sweepstakes or a Suter sweepstakes to be had this year, you might see more in the way of trades in the next week or so as general managers attempt to tweak their rosters in that manner.
But, for the question’s sake, let’s pretend I am a general manager with a lot of money to spend. Scary, right? Landing Paul Stastny or Brad Richards down the middle would be nice. Thomas Vanek, yeah, he’s not a bad option either as a top-six scoring winger. On defense, Matt Niskanen presents a very intriguing option.
From a financial standpoint, I’m not sure these players would make sense for the Canes. But the bottom line is that there isn’t a whole lot out there and a lot of teams are anxious to re-sign their talent while they can. That dilutes the pool and drives up market prices, which could make the next week very intriguing. We’ll be here to bring you everything as the clock strikes noon on Tuesday, July 1.
Will the Canes be wearing their third jersey at all next season? – Brandon G. (@bcgunning)
While a schedule of dates are still to be announced, you can plan on seeing the Canes don their black alternate uniform set 12 to 15 times in the 2014-15 season.
Join me next week for more questions and more answers!
If you have a question you’d like answered or you’d like to discuss this week’s episode of 24, which was one of the best in the show’s entire history, you can reach out to me on Twitter at @MSmithCanes.