The Carolina Hurricanes finalized their NHL roster at 1:30pm on Tuesday, October 1st. Players that cleared waivers and/or were sent to Charlotte for the final cuts include Roland McKeown, Gustav Forsling, Anton Forsberg, Brian Gibbons, and Julien Guathier.
GAUTHIER CAME AS A SHOCK
Of the 25 players that remained with the NHL team on Monday, it was pretty clear which ones would be staying and which ones would be leaving. McKeown and Gibbons were surely heading back to Charlotte. Forsling made quite the impression at the NHL level but wasn’t what the NHL organization was looking for at the moment. Forsberg really stepped up to the plate in net, and probably earned a spot over Reimer as backup goaltender as far as preseason play goes. And Gauthier. Without a doubt, Julien Gauthier deserved a spot at the NHL level; however, the Hurricanes front office and coaches agreed that Martin Necas was better suited for the final roster spot on Opening Night. The only issue is that Martin Necas did nothing to beat Gauthier for the spot. Necas’ play was mediocre at best and with his small frame, he will likely get pushed around a bit. In the preseason, Necas averaged 15:33. TOI in three games, but notched only one shot and one assist; meanwhile, Gauthier only averaged 13:34 TOI in six preseason games but tallied 13 shots and one assist. Necas, known for being more of a skilled player, didn’t provide much support for that statement in his appearances on the ice. In fact, Gauthier’s 13 shots included one beautifully executed power move to the net that ended up with a brilliant scoring opportunity against Nashville.
There’s no questioning that whichever player, Necas or Gauthier, made the NHL roster would be playing on the fourth line opening night. Styles of play have to play some part in the decision, right? Necas brings a six-foot, two-inch frame to the table, weighing in at 189 pounds. Relatively small for a forward that hasn’t shown much offensive firepower. On the contrary, Gauthier weighs in at 227 to match his six-foot, four-inch frame; something that the Hurricanes could very well use on the ice since they don’t have the biggest forwards. Take into account that a teams’ fourth line is typically more of a grinder line rather than skill line, and Gauthier matches that description perfectly. The kid knows how to use his body and he proved it in the preseason. The only thing pointing to Necas in the decision is that he can provide some fourth line skill that Gauthier can’t, and that could have been the deciding factor.
The decision may not matter much for opening night against the Habs, but heading to D.C. to take on the Capitals for the second game of the season suits a player like Gauthier much better as the Capitals will be taking no prisoners after the first round playoff exit the Hurricanes dished them last season.
Look for Gauthier to be with the Hurricanes before the end of the season.