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Four years ago, Justin Faulk was something of a surprise inclusion on Team USA in Sochi. We got it, of course. He had been a young, dynamic puck-mover simply plying his trade in anonymity in Carolina, which as far as hockey coverage is concerned might as well be Narnia. While the Hurricanes have always been a metric-lovers delight under Bill Peters, for the most part Faulk had stayed above the team-rate and pushed the play the other way. It’s why you heard rumors of him being the name exchanged for Taylor Hall once upon a time, and he would have been a great improvement on Adam Larsson. Then again, so would dozens of players, but we’ve done the Chiarelli post before.

Now we sort of wonder if Faulk missed the point where he was supposed to take THE LEAP. And if it’s going to come around again for him to jump off.

On this Canes team, and last year’s, Faulk has essentially been skating second-pairing shifts. Brett Pesce and Jaccob Slavin take the hardest shifts in terms of both zone-starts and competition. They do the mine-sweeping. Faulk and rookie Haydn Fleury (and his missing “e”) or Noah Hanafin are next up. Everything is basically set-up for Faulk to mimic what Brent Burns does in San Jose, to at least be the poor man’s version of that (or the Carolina version, if you will. And you won’t). Simply slaughter the competition below the top lines of the opponent.

And yet, Faulk comes into this one with just 26 points. That’s not horrible, of course, but given Faulk’s skillset you can’t help but wonder if he shouldn’t be pushing 50 or 60 points when the season is over. And he’s never really come close to that. His career-year was three seasons ago already when he managed 49 points.

Faulk still pushes the play at a clip of 54% Corsi and that’s above the team-rate. But his scoring-chance percentage is below the team rate, and while some of that can be attributed to the growing pains of Fleury when they’ve been paired, considering they’re getting second and third lines you have to figure that should be better.

Faulk has also been undone by a 3.6% shooting-percentage, almost half his career-rate. And he’s firing more attempts than he ever has, and getting more scoring-chances per game than he ever has. Clearly bad luck is playing a huge role in this.

Which makes one wonder if a team couldn’t get Faulk this summer at a possibly lower rate than they should if they’re looking at those numbers. After this season, even if they’ll both be RFAs, both Pesce and Slavin are going to be due big raises. After next year so will Fleury. Elias Lindholm up front is due one after this season, and Teuvo is up after next. While the Canes have plenty of cap space, they’re something of a budget team, at least for right now, though that could change with their new nutcase owner. And they have to make room to find a #1 center, and probably a goalie if Scott Darling can’t find reverse on a Russian tank anytime soon.

So you know what we’re thinking. Justin Faulk would solve a lot of problems around this town, though what the Hawks have to offer is unclear. The Canes would certainly ask for Schmaltz or DeBrincat, and for the Hawks that might just be running in place. You can be sure the Leafs, Oilers, Canadiens, Sabres, and a host of others will be bothering Ron Francis at the draft if he puts Faulk on the market. Faulk has two years left on his deal that pays him a mere $4.8 per, so his value is through the roof. The Canes won’t get any more for him than they will this summer.

But is he the unlucky player who will start finding the net and assists with regularity next season given what his chances are? Or is he the one who just quite can’t break through? It’s probably worth finding out for someone.

Game #68 Preview

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One of the things the NHL probably wasn’t missing that other sports have is a self-involved, I’m-gonna-do-everything shitbag owner. Well, the Hurricanes have one now, and last night we saw the first moves in what will assuredly torpedo this team for the foreseeable future. And Tom Dundon was a shitheel before he ever step foot in the PNC Arena as well.

You may have missed it, because you probably don’t care about the inner workings of the Canes. And fair play to you. Dundon kicked GM Ron Francis upstairs, and now he’s going to sink his hands into the day-to-day hockey operations, no matter who he hires to replace Francis in the GM chair. You can be sure Bill Peters is going to eat it when the season ends, unless he somehow miracles a playoff appearance and might even have to make some noise when and if they get there.

Francis certainly made his mistakes. He’s invested too heavily in Cam Ward for too many years. He got burned by investing in career backups at the time Eddie Lack and Scott Darling, who simply weren’t up to the challenge of being starters (or in Darling’s case, just not yet). Francis has failed to find the Canes a #1 center. But he also put together this fabulous blue line they have, as well as draft nifty forwards like Skinner, Rask, Aho, Lindholm, and stealing Our Special Boy from the Hawks. He’s not a complete idiot.

And really, when has an owner making himself the GM ever worked? Jones hasn’t won a Super Bowl since he started constructing his own rosters. The one he got without Jimmy Johnson was still one with Johnson’s roster. Mark Cuban, shockingly a close friend of Dundon, didn’t get a title until he stepped back from personnel decisions. It’s hard to think of another. And it’s not like the Canes are so stable they can deal with an owner lighting the entire team on fire.

Beyond that, Dundon got his money by simply ripping off the most vulnerable in our society. He started out financing used cars to those who were likely not up for the loans, and cashing in on their late fees and foreclosures as they feared losing their jobs over losing their cars as they could no longer get to said jobs. All you need to know is right here.

Look, most sports owners get their money or protect it in sadistic ways. Just the nature of the thing. But Dundon seems the extreme in his wealth acquiring, and also thinks he’s a goddamn genius for doing so. And Canes fans are going to pay for it.

 

Game #68 Preview

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Douchebag Du Jour

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oldschool at whalers

Game Time: 6:00PM Central
TV/Radio: CSN, WGN-AM 720
Mike Krzyzewski Is A Charlatan: Canes Country

A late season road trip playing out the interconference schedule now has the Hawks taking their only swing through NASCAR country this season. And really nothing has changed since these teams saw one another three weeks ago other than the fact that the Canes are actually eliminated.