Nov 24, 2013; Raleigh, NC, USA; Carolina Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward (30) is congratulated by forward Jiri Tlusty (19) after defeating the Ottawa Senators 4-1 at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Carolina Hurricanes Trade Deadline Preview: Rumors, Targets, And More

The NHL trade deadline is under a week away. Many teams are expected to be very active up until March 5. The Carolina Hurricanes are a team on the playoff bubble going into the final month of the season, so they are expected to be active in the trade market.

There have been many times in the past where the team obviously needed help, but Jim Rutherford opted to not make many moves at the trade deadline. This has been the case in each of the past two seasons, but I think Jim Rutherford is ready to finally make a move.

Jim Rutherford has said on multiple occasions that this is the make or break year for the Carolina Hurricanes. Honestly the “make or break” year should have been years ago, but now he has said that he will make big changes if the Carolina Hurricanes aren’t a playoff team in April. Every loss will get the Canes closer and closer to making big changes.

Without further ado, let’s look at some players on the Carolina Hurricanes who could be traded before the trade deadline on March 5.


Canes Players On The Market

Tuomo Ruutu is a player that could easily be moved before March 5. The Finish forward has been in trade rumors since late 2013, but there hasn’t been much traction with those rumors since the beginning of 2014. Ruutu has struggled hugely this season, so not many teams have been interested in the forward, but his great play in the Sochi Olympics will likely attract teams.

Tuomo Ruutu’s play in the upcoming week will likely determine whether he will be moved or not. If he plays well, more teams will be interested in him, but at the same time, it may be hard for the Carolina Hurricanes to part ways with him if he is helping the team.

If Ruutu plays poorly, the Carolina Hurricanes will likely push hard to get him out of Raleigh, but then other teams may not be interested in him. If the Carolina Hurricanes trade the Finnish forward, they will likely have to retain part of his nearly $5 million dollar per year salary that lasts through next year.

Jiri Tlusty has also been involved in trade rumors, but not to the extent of Tuomo Ruutu. Tlusty has come a long way from last year’s top five NHL goal scoring season. He has played poorly all year, and the coaching staff keeps trying to put him on the Carolina Hurricanes top line with Eric Staal and Alex Semin, even though it obviously doesn’t work like it did last year.

I was very cautiously optimistic about Jiri Tlusty going into this years season. Last year was a bit of a lucky season for the Czech forward. He had a lot of empty-net and “right place, right time” goals when he was on the Carolina Hurricanes first line last season, but he did a good job of driving the net and putting rebounds home.

Jiri Tlusty isn’t like Tuomo Ruutu. Tlusty is getting paid well under $2 million per season, but his contract will expire after this year. It is hard to determine how much he will want, but it likely won’t be too much.

If the Carolina Hurricanes trade Jiri Tlusty, they probably won’t get much in return. If the Carolina Hurricanes do not trade him, they can still keep him and use him as a solid middle of the lineup player, and hope that he can be that 20-plus goal scorer again.

The Carolina Hurricanes goaltender situation has been interesting over the past few months. Honestly, they should have made a decision a very long time ago. Cam Ward and Justin Peters’ trade value have been dropping by the day since the beginning of 2014.

The Carolina Hurricanes would be extremely foolish to trade Anton Khudobin because of how well he has played. He is one of the big reasons that the Carolina Hurricanes are still fighting for a playoff spot.

If the Carolina Hurricanes trade Cam Ward, I think it won’t be until the offseason. The Carolina Hurricanes would want Cam Ward for the playoffs, if they think they will make it. The whole playoffs thing is still up in the air with no clear answer in sight.

The return for Cam Ward is uncertain. It depends how the team sees him. Will they see him as a former Conn-Smythe winning goaltender that led his team to a Stanley Cup, or will they view him as an injury plagued goalie seemingly on a massive decline. The most likely answer to this question is the latter of the two.

If the Carolina Hurricanes trade Justin Peters, they will likely get almost nothing for him. Back in November, the Canes likely could have gotten a roster player for him, but now they would likely get a late-round draft pick.

Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Carolina Hurricanes just did not trade a goalie before the trade deadline. At this point, a Justin Peters trade would be pointless, and a Cam Ward trade seems pretty unlikely, unless a team is desperate.

Riley Nash is another player that could be traded before the deadline, but he would likely be part of a multi-player trade, or part of a pretty insignificant trade. Nash has been in the bottom-six all year, and the Carolina Hurricanes would benefit from an upgrade at that position of third-line center.

Look out for players like Jay Harrison, Drayson Bowman, and maybe some AHL players involved in some trades or rumors over the next week.


Potential Trade Targets

Throughout the season, there have been three needs for the Carolina Hurricanes that would only be achieved through a trade. These needs are a third-line center, a two-way defenseman, and a top-six scorer.

The most important need for the Carolina Hurricanes is a third-line center. There are many players on the market that could fill that hole for the Carolina Hurricanes.

Steve Ott of the Buffalo Sabres will likely be traded prior to the trade deadline on March 5. The Carolina Hurricanes should be interested in him as a third-line center replacement. Ott is a physical player who could add some roughness to the team.

The Buffalo Sabres captain would be an upgrade offensively and defensively to the Carolina Hurricanes third-line. He is also a good face-off man.

David Legwand of the Nashville Predators is my personal favorite for a third-line center via trade. He has been terrific for Nashville for  a very long time. He would be a huge upgrade over Manny Malhotra and Riley Nash in almost all areas.

Legwand, 33, is a veteran guy that knows his role and performs as he is expected to. David Legwand would likely cost the Carolina Hurricanes a decent amount in return, but it may be worth it to get a veteran player to help the team during the final month of the season and, possibly, beyond.

The Dallas Stars have three players who could end up in Raleigh. All of those players would really help the team as they look for a playoff spot.

Ray Whitney is a well-known name around Raleigh. He spent 2005-2010 with the Carolina Hurricanes. He scored at least 55 points in each season as a consistent member of the Carolina Hurricanes top-six.

Whitney is likely in his last season in the NHL, so it would make sense that he would like to return to a place that he loved. “The Wizard” could be an awesome fit on the first or second line as a scoring threat.

He is still a very capable player at 41-years-old. He has shown over the last few years that he can still contribute to an offense, and he could definitely do that again with the Carolina Hurricanes if he’s put with the right players. Ray Whitney’s $4.5 million cap hit isn’t ideal, but his contract expires at season’s end.

Erik Cole, another former Carolina Hurricane, is another player that has been involved in trade rumors lately. Cole was extremely successful with Eric Staal and Jeff Skinner a few years ago, and he could help re-ignite the Carolina Hurricanes offense.

An Erik Cole return to Raleigh is highly unlikely, but he would help an inconsistent Carolina Hurricanes offense.

Vernon Fiddler would be an easy player to acquire at the trade deadline. He would likely be a cheap bottom-six center option. He would be a decent option as a two-way forward if all else fails.

The Carolina Hurricanes have been rumored to be interested in a two-way defenseman. This could really help the overall make-up of the Carolina Hurricanes blue line.

Andrew MacDonald of the New York Islanders could be a great option for a top-four, two-way defenseman. He could play on the Carolina Hurricanes power play and penalty kill, both of which are struggling big time.

If the Carolina Hurricanes are interested in a defensive defenseman, there are a few players available.

Mark Stuart of the Winnipeg Jets would be an upgrade over Jay Harrison in the Carolina Hurricanes top-six defensemen group. Stuart is a great shot blocker, and he would contribute a lot to the Canes penalty kill.

Derek Morris of the Phoenix Coyotes is an NHL veteran, and he would bring much of the same. He is a great shot blocker, and he is a very good defensive force. His veteran leadership would really help a relatively young and inexperienced Carolina Hurricanes team.

Expect a lot of trade rumors around the Carolina Hurricanes and the NHL in the coming week. It will be interesting to see if Jim Rutherford makes a move, or if he sticks with the group of players he has. He may choose to not make a move, but I think it is obvious that would not be the smart choice.

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Tags: Cam Ward Carolina Hurricanes Jiri Tlusty Trade Rumors Tuomo Ruutu

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