Now that the New Year is upon us and the season is near half way complete, let’s take a way too early dive into the Carolina Hurricanes trade plans.
The holidays may be over for most of us, but some, the real festivities are right around the corner. We speak of course of the NHL All-Star game and the NHL Trade Deadline. With the two now in closer in the Carolina Hurricanes focus, we take a look at the latter, the trade deadline.
The Hurricanes have a history of being very, well, boring at the trade deadline. Most of the time they have elected to stand pat, do something unbearably insignificant, or make a move that everyone figured was coming (like Eric Staal‘s trade last season). The only real crazy deadline move in the franchise’s Carolina history was when then GM Jim Rutherford acquired Mark Recchi in 2006.
While the team’s history may be rather underwhelming when it comes to the trade deadline, that doesn’t mean this year’s won’t be intriguing. With the Hurricanes currently 6 points out of the wild card, but holding games in hand, the Canes are in an interesting position.
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Assuming the Hurricanes aren’t going to stand pat (which is they certainly might), it looks like GM Ron Francis is going to determine what types of moves are made based on where the team is positioned in the standings. The caveat with this is that Francis has continually stressed that he won’t sacrifice the long term future of the team just to make the playoffs for a season.
That policy translates to a very small likelihood that Carolina goes after a big name, win now type of player. With a lot of the Canes young core still on entry level deals, Francis is saving cap room to resign them in the relatively near future. He doesn’t want to hinder his team’s finances in a few years by going out and adding a $6 million a year player just for a playoff push.
While blockbusters maybe off the table, that certainly doesn’t mean the Canes wouldn’t be potential buyers closer to deadline day. But, with where they sit in the standings, the club could just as easily be sellers as well. These might be the types of moves Carolina makes depending on where they stand.
If the Hurricanes are ‘buyers’ come the trade deadline, it is probably because they hold a playoff position. Again, Francis is very pragmatic and won’t jeopardize the future for the present. So, if the team is on the cut line or just out, don’t expect the former Canes captain to be aggressively looking to find that missing piece. He is going to want the current guys on the ice to get it done.
On the off chance Carolina does occupy a playoff spot around this time, first off, awesome, second, Francis might look to add a complimentary piece to help support the young guys going into the back end of the season and perhaps the postseason. That means the Canes might be looking for another Lee Stempniak like forward on the trade market. A veteran winger that would balance out scoring for the Canes and ideally be from a team looking to move out some excess contracts.
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Some guys that fit this description are New Jersey winger P.A. Parenteau, former Hurricane and Arizona Coyote Radim Vrbata, or even maybe Florida Panthers winger Jaromir Jagr (depending on where Florida is in the playoff race). These players would cost the Canes a package of mid to late round picks to acquire, allowing the Canes to add some depth without jeopardizing the future.
If the next couple months don’t go too well, it will be expected that the Canes will be sellers at the deadline. This has been the case for the team the last couple of seasons. While disappointing, the sale of some established players like Staal, Andrej Sekera, John-Michael Liles, and others have been incredible fruitful for Carolina.
The current roster has few, if any, players that would act as bargaining chips the same way Staal and Sekera were. This season’s selling strategy would play out differently from the past two seasons.
First, it would be likely that Ron Hainsey is shipped off somewhere else (hopefully a playoff team). The Canes need to make room for their young defensemen and Hainsey would be first on the chopping block.
Next, Carolina could elect to make a move or two similar in nature to that of the Teuvo Teravainen deal from this past summer. That would entail a cap-strapped team trading the Canes an overpaid player (like Bryan Bickell), plus a cheap, promising young player, in exchange for some Hurricanes picks. Some teams will need to clear space to make moves, and the Canes could seize the opportunity just as they did with Chicago last summer.