RALEIGH, N.C. – Following a 4-3 shootout victory over the Washington Capitals, Carolina Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters indicated that it was now time for his team to cut its roster down.
With the Hurricanes’ current list sitting at 27, Peters will need to drop four players in order to file Carolina’s starting roster of 23 for the upcoming season-opener.
“It’s gonna’ come quick,” Peters said of the Tuesday deadline.
With younger players like defensemen Noah Hanifin, Jaccob Slavin, Brett Pesce, and Haydn Fleury along with forward Brock McGinn contending for spots, it’s likely that the team’s final cuts at this point will be along the blue line.
“Our young D got some experience here tonight – a good experience for those guys,” Peters said.
“All those guys, if they got to play again are getting more and more comfortable,” he continued.
“Now that Wisniewski’s healthy, we have Murphy and we have Hainsey, now it’s time to get some veteran D in there. I thought that Pesce was solid tonight. I thought Jaccob got better as the game went along, and I thought Noah was solid for, I think, 25 minutes against good players. He’s gettin’ good experience and we’ll have some tough decisions to make.”
The look in Peters’ eyes and the tone of his voice indicated that it was time for his team to start practicing as a full NHL squad.
He wasn’t particularly happy with the line combinations and groupings that he has currently, as the larger number of players requires him to mix and match more than he wants.
Refining the roster will allow him to get to that sooner rather than later, and his final comment during his postgame presser more or less prefaced that move.
“Tomorrow’s Thursday and we’re down to one (preseason) game left. These kids have done a real good job, but I think it’s time to get our group together and move forward.”
The likely scenario will include returning Fleury to his junior club, the Red Deer Rebels, while assigning Slavin, Pesce, and McGinn to Charlotte.
At this point, the possibility to keep rookie Hanifin in the fold on the blue line to start the season remains high.
The experience that he will gain starting in the NHL early on will benefit him and the Hurricanes down the road.
Even more so, it will also keep Carolina’s fan base looking forward to watching the team’s top draft pick play in front of them on opening night.