The Carolina Hurricanes are going to be deeper and healthier than they’ve been all season for the Stanley Cup Qualifier matchup with the New York Rangers, assuming the NHL reboot kicks off on time. In particular, the Canes should be well-positioned to defend the goal. Coach Rod Brind’Amour, however, isn’t sure which particular bodies he’ll position in front of the net, per Dan Rosen of NHL.com. Petr Mrazek will most likely be in goal, but Brind’Amour needs eyes-on before he can set the lineups. Per Rosen, Brind’Amour said of starting Mrazek, “He may be in rough shape. I don’t know until I get to see them and see what they’re like.”
- The Hurricanes will also get the benefit of a beefed-up defensive unit. Dougie Hamilton was expected to be out for the year, prompting the acquisitions of Brady Skjei and Sami Vatanen. Thanks to the extended layoff, Hamilton will have the chance to play alongside his replacements. Rosen notes that Brett Pesce, who was also out for the season, is also expected to be ready for camp. Carolina has upwards of nine viable blueliners to deploy across three lines, per Rosen. Vatanen has yet to appear with the Hurricanes, and given their depth, it may be late to break him into the rotation. That said, the entire process will be an exercise in on-ice chemistry in fast-forward, so roster decisions could very well come down to who looks game-ready when the time comes. As our own Brian La Rose wrote recently, “When you add them to a back end that also features veterans Jaccob Slavin, Joel Edmundson, Trevor van Riemsdyk, and Jake Gardiner, you get a very deep back end. “
- Mikko Rantanen of the Colorado Avalanche took to the ice today with teammates for the first time since sustaining an upper-body injury on February 17th against the Tampa Bay Lightning, per NHL.com. Rantanen, 23, was well on his way to another 30-goal season when he was placed on IR. The Finish winger ended the year with 19 goals and 22 assists across 42 games. The Avalanche will return to the ice via a round-robin tournament to determine playoff seeding with other Western Conference stalwarts the St. Louis Blues, Vegas Golden Knights, and Dallas Stars.