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Hofmann, No. 65 in White, opens some eyes

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The Hurricanes have convinced forward Victor Rask to stay in North America and play hockey this season.

Too bad they can't do the same with Gregory Hofmann.

Hofmann, from Tramelan, Switzerland, probably had more than few Canes fans checking their lineup sheets Sunday at the RBC Center during the Red-White scrimmage. Playing on a line with Riley Nash and Chris Terry, No. 65 for the White made some plays that grabbed everybody's attention, notably a no-look pass to Terry for an early second-period goal.

"It was fun for me and I was very excited," Hofmann said. "It was a crazy experience. I played with two good guys and it was good."

Nash and Terry each scored a pair of goals. Hofmann had a pair of assists and scored an empty netter just before the final horn sounded as the White won 10-7.

Hofmann, 18, was a fourth-round draft pick by the Canes this year and played for Ambri of the Swiss league last season. He's lean at 6-0 and 178 pounds and looks younger than 18, and said he will honor his contract and stay in Switzerland this season.

"I think for my development the right thing this year is to go back and play one more year in Switzerland and improve everything -- my body, my skating, my shot," Hofmann said. "It's a tough decision but I think the best thing for me now is to use this main camp and experience to make me a better player. I can learn much from other players such as (Eric) Staal and (Jeff) Skinner and (Tuomo) Ruutu."

Rask, a second-round pick, has said he would not return to Sweden this year and is prepared to play somewhere in North America, possibly another year of junior hockey. He has been drafted by the Calgary Hitmen (WHL) but could play his way up the ladder in preseason and end up with the Checkers (AHL),

"I know I am not ready to play now in the NHL," Hofmann said. "I will go back to my team in Switzerland for one year and after that will probably come back and try to play one year for the American League or in the NHL. "

Hofmann had a strong rookie conditioning camp in July, but conceded he was not pleased with his overall play in the recent Traverse City (Mich.) rookie tournament as the Canes team won just one game. But he looked pretty sharp Sunday in the scrimmage at the RBC Center, even after taking a stick in the mouth early.

"I think my positive is I skate pretty well, so I try to use that," Hofmann said. "In Switzerland the game and the level of the game is based on speed. It's different than with the smaller ice (rinks) here. With the small ice you have no time, so I try to use my speed to create space."

Hofmann said he is a natural centerman but that his Swiss coach used him at times on the wing last season. That's where he was Sunday.

"I thought he was real good today," Canes coach Paul Maurice said. "He's starting to show that speed."


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On target...

Chip, you got this story right. He caught my eye. The Swiss are developing many good hockey players and we might have landed a bargain with our fourth-round pick.

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About the blogger

A Raleigh native, Chip has worked at the N&O since 1979 and is the Canes beat writer. He can be reached at You can follow him on Twitter at @ice_chip.