It’s been a busy week leading up to the NHL trade deadline for the Carolina Hurricanes. It was no secret that the Hurricanes were going to be sellers, and true to form, they have made several trades in the last few days. Andrej Sekera, Jiri Tlusty, and Tim Gleason have all found new homes, while Jay McClement has just resigned with the team. It is likely that Patrick Dwyer and maybe one or two others will find themselves wearing a new jersey by March 2nd, but time will tell soon enough.
Andrej Sekera Trade:
It should not have been a surprise to anyone to see Andrej Sekera go. A great Hurricanes player on and off the ice, Sekera was a true professional while in Raleigh and turned out to be an absolute steal for the Hurricanes organization. There is no question that he helped Justin Faulk grow, as he provided a steadiness and calm demeanor on the top pairing. However, Sekera reportedly wanted a new contract in the $5-6 million range. While Sekera is a great defenseman and has shown talent both offensively and defensively, he is not worth that kind of money. He was a decent top 2 defenseman on a poor Hurricanes team, but elsewhere, he is a better fit as a 3-4 defenseman. The Hurricanes traded Sekera to the Los Angeles Kings for a conditional first round pick (in 2015 if Kings make playoffs this year or in 2016 if they don’t) and prospect, Roland McKeown. I was very pleased with the value that Ron Francis received in this deal. Getting a first round pick is huge for a team that has never had two first round picks in any draft. Canes fans can now root against the Kings when the first round of the playoffs arrive, as this pick could allow the Canes to pick anywhere from 15-20 if things work out the right way. Roland McKeown is a decent defensive prospect who was chosen 50th overall in the 2nd round of the 2014 NHL draft. He is a very smooth skating defenseman that can contribute offensively and lead the power play unit. If he can develop his defensive game and become more physical, he could turn out to be a decent top 4 defenseman in the future. Overall, this was a good trade for the Carolina Hurricanes, and one that will hopefully help speed up this rebuild.
Jiri Tlusty Trade:
I was not surprised to see Tlusty go to the Winnipeg Jets, especially after the Jets had some key offensive players go down to injury. Not to mention the fact that Paul Maurice is the head coach up in Winnipeg and the Hurricanes had already dealt Jay Harrison to the team earlier in the year. The Canes traded Tlusty for a 3rd round pick and conditional 6th round pick in the upcoming draft, while not retaining any salary. I was very puzzled by this deal, and did not like the value at all. Tlusty is a young, top 9 forward that can easily play in the top 6 and contribute. He is a great locker-room guy and has a modest salary as well. I was hoping the Canes could get something like a 2nd round pick and 3rd round pick, or a 2nd round pick and prospect for Tlusty. This may seem steep to some, but Tlusty is the type of player who is in high demand at this time in the year. Seeing the value that Jaromir Jagr and Curtis Glencross garnered just shows how poor of a trade this was. My only hope is that this deal is a prelude to another deal with the Winnipeg Jets later on. Maybe Francis and the Jets will make a much bigger move at the draft or in the summer. Possibly Jeff Skinner could be the center piece of a deal here? This is all speculation, of course, but it seems strange that Francis was only able to receive a 3rd and 5th/6th round pick in exchange for Tlusty.
Tim Gleason Trade:
The Hurricanes traded Gleason to the Washington Capitals in exchange for a 4th round pick and defenseman, Jack Hillen. This was a solid return for the Canes, as they were able to get a younger defenseman to replace Gleason in the lineup as well as a mid-round pick for the upcoming draft. It is yet to be seen how well Hillen fits in with the Canes, but he could turn out to be a decent bottom pairing guy. If nothing else, he is a true professional who will have the chance to show the Canes what he has in the remaining part of the regular season. Great deal for Ron Francis, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw Tim Gleason in Raleigh again next year.
Jay McClement Resigning:
The Hurricanes also just resigned forward, Jay McClement, to a two-year, $2.4 million deal. The contract will pay McClement $1.3 million next season and $1.1 million in the final year of the deal. I love this deal for the Hurricanes. McClement is a great 4th line center, face-off man, and penalty killer. He provides much needed veteran leadership in a young Canes locker-room and is well-liked by the team. Although he could have fetched a decent return of picks in a trade, I think it is better to keep McClement in Raleigh–especially, at the affordable price he was resigned for.
Ron Francis shouldn’t be too busy form now until the March 2nd trade deadline, but it is very possible that we will see another minor deal or two go down. It seems likely that Patrick Dwyer will get traded for a late round draft pick, and Brett Bellemore could also be headed elsewhere.
Overall, Ron Francis has done a good job in his first trade deadline experience. The Canes continue to play very well despite all of these trades, and look to be headed in the right direction.