With the 2013 NHL entry draft less than a month away, the Carolina Hurricanes have to start considering what to do with their fifth overall pick. They have already shown interest in Valeri Nichushkin, but with his announcement of coming to North America, teams with higher picks than the Hurricanes have also shown interest in the Russian. If the Hurricanes want Nichushkin badly, they could try trading up with the Tampa Bay Lightning or Nashville Predators.
Nichushkin would be a perfect fit on the Canes’ second line with Jordan Staal. The 18-year-old has similar size to Staal, but has more explosive speed and goal-scoring ability. With Staal’s pass-first mentality, him and Nichushkin could become a deadly duo. Add in another big body like Tuomo Ruutu to create space and that line could be just as dangerous as the first.
But the biggest problem in trying to pick Nichushkin in the draft, is whether or not the Lightning or Predators would agree to trade. The Hurricanes would have to include their fifth overall pick and then a player like Jamie McBain, Patrick Dwyer or Zac Dalpe. Possibly even more depending on how high the team is on Nichushkin.
The Lightning have shown more interest in Nichushkin, so the Hurricanes will want to target them more for trading up in the draft. The Lightning lack young defensemen, which the Canes could offer in McBain. However, it would not be surprising if the Lightning asked for Ryan Murphy instead. At that point the Canes should not make that deal.
If the Lightning pass up on Nichushkin, the Canes can try with the Predators. Nashville needs offense, which the Hurricanes can offer in Dalpe and Dwyer with the fifth pick. But again, if the Preds want too much, the Canes should get out of the bidding.
Trading up for the third or fourth pick will not be easy, but if the Hurricanes feel Nichushkin is worth it, they may make a deal. If the price gets too high, they should stand pat. The 2013 draft is a deep one and an impact player will still be available at the fifth pick.