By Peter Koutroumpis
RALEIGH, N.C. – It’s a pretty straightforward directive and focus that forward Phil Di Giuseppe has for the upcoming season with the Carolina Hurricanes.
It’s to produce offense – score goals, collect assists, and provide the energy to create such opportunities for himself and those he’s on the ice with.
Following the first on-ice session of training camp on Friday, Di Giuseppe reflected on a less-than-stellar NHL campaign last season.
He finished with one goal and added six assists in 36 games with a minus-12 rating that coupled with 26 points he tallied in 40 games with Charlotte in the American Hockey League (AHL).
Injuries plagued him more than he would have liked, but he’s fully recovered and healthy after a long summer.
“I went down at the end of the season – it was a long time to kind of reflect on the season and study what was good, what was bad, and how to improve,” Di Giuseppe said.
“I thought I brought intensity; just couldn’t produce. So, I watched film and my tendencies and tried to work on certain positional and entry stuff.”
A key part of Di Giuseppe’s off-season also included getting re-signed following the expiration of his entry-level contract which he signed in March 2014 after the Hurricanes selected him in the second-round (38th overall) of the 2012 NHL Draft.
He inked a one-year, two-way deal in late July, one that didn’t provide much security for the 23-year-old who will have to fight hard to earn and keep a regular roster spot.
With many of the team’s younger prospects having signed base ELCs, the writing has been scrawled on the wall for Di Giuseppe and a handful other role-playing forwards.
The window to perform to expectation is a small one, and the slightest falter may be costly.
Various injuries he’s endured throughout his short pro career may have also been a concern for not signing him longer term.
According to Di Giuseppe, they shouldn’t be.
Each time he’s dealt with being out, he’s come back feeling better.
However, his performance last year didn’t meet the expectation to produce, especially after the precedent he set prior to that.
During his rookie season in 2015-2016, he posted 17 points (7g, 10a) in 41 games with an even plus-minus rating, and that included scoring a dramatic overtime game-winning-goal against the Boston Bruins.
Scoring at the right time, and creating the opportunity for it to happen, has been what Di Giuseppe has offered.
Even the lone marker he netted last season gave Carolina a 1-0 overtime win over the Tampa Bay Lightning.
It’s those types of moments that Di Giuseppe will need to work to create and be a part of more often.
“I just gotta come and work, like I’ve been doing the last two years here,” he concluded.
“I think I brought a good work ethic and mindset. Just gotta keep plugging away, getting to the net, and bearing down.
“Obviously, I had my better year two years ago. I didn’t think I’d play worse, but scoring just wasn’t there. But, at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all based off of.”
Peter Koutroumpis: 401-323-8960, @pksport