For the Carolina Hurricanes, the first two days of on-ice practices in training camp have been about skating, passing, systems, special teams.
Hitting? Not so much.
That may change on Sunday when the Canes hold a Red-White scrimmage at 1 p.m. in PNC Arena during the annual Caniac Carnival. Some of the niceties of the first two days may be forgotten by the players as the competition for jobs begins to spike in a game-like setting.
“We’ve been giving them a lot of information and we haven’t see a lot of battle yet,” Canes assistant coach Rod Brind’Amour said Saturday.
With Canes coach Bill Peters at the World Cup of Hockey, serving as an assistant coach for Team Canada, Brind’Amour and assistant coach Steve Smith are alternating in running the practices. It was Brind’Amour’s turn Saturday, and he smiled when asked how training camps today compare to the camps when he first came into the league in the late 1980s.
“Training camps, when I started, there were a lot of spots open and you were fighting for them and not knowing who was going to get them,” he said. “Things have changed now. You can pretty much tell who our team is going to be. But the good news is there’s always that one or two spots … there’s stuff available for guys.”
On the Red team Sunday will be forwards Derek Ryan, Brock McGinn, Phil Di Giuseppe and Julien Gauthier, and such defensemen as Roland McKeown, Josh Wesley and Jake Bean.
Gauthier and Bean were the Canes’ two first-round picks in the NHL Draft this year and helped Carolina win the recent Traverse City (Mich.) prospects tournament.
“Everybody is talking about how good our young guys are and then they backed it up, so that’s good,” Brind’Amour said
Forwards on the White team include Patrick Brown, Sergey Tolchinsky and Valentin Zykov, and defensemen Trevor Carrick and Keegan Lowe.
Daniel Altshuller and Jeremy Helvig will be the goalies for the Red team, coached by Brind’Amour. Alex Nedeljkovic and Callum Booth will be in net for the White, coached by Smith.
Tolchinsky and Zykov, both 21, played on the same line at Traverse City. Tolchinsky said the two Russians have been friends since they were 10, saying, “We have that chemistry together.”
Canes general manager Ron Francis liked Tolchinsky’s play at Traverse City. The 5-foot-8, 170-pound winger, noted as a sniper, hustled and worked hard at both ends of the ice.
“There’s always something you need to improve on, work on,” Tolchinsky said.
Tolchinsky spent most of 2015-16, his first professional season, with the Charlotte Checkers in the AHL but did make his NHL debut for Carolina and play two games. There’s no doubting his offensive skill and creativity, but games like Sunday’s Red-White scrimmage offer another chance to impress the bosses.
Brind’Amour said the camp roster number could remain high until Peters returns and gets a look at the players. As for the pace of practice, he said, “We’ll ramp it up as we go.”
When: Sunday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Where: PNC Arena. Admission and parking are free.
There will be a players autograph session at 10:45 a.m. (wristband distribution at 10 a.m), State of the Hurricanes session at 12:15 p.m. (general manager Ron Francis and Canes TV play-by-play man John Forslund) and the Red-White scrimmage (two 20-minute periods) at 1 p.m.