The rumor mill turned out to be a whole lot of nothing in reality for the Carolina Hurricanes during the actual season. Is the off-season different?
On March 18, the Carolina Hurricanes take on the New York Islanders, with a chance for some players to prove themselves before the off-season comes around. A few names to watch for the Canes before the conclusion of the regular season includes Victor Rask, Elias Lindholm, Justin Faulk, Derek Ryan, and Noah Hanifin.
Of all those players for the Canes, Rask has one of the bigger spotlights on him due to his decline in production this season. Both Faulk and Rask are in the midst of either their worst season statistically since debuting in the NHL, or close to it. Rask is on pace for slightly under 35 points.
However, two seasons ago, Canes fan thought they saw what could be a potential star forward in Rask, when he registered 21 goals and 48 points in 2015-16. Yet, Rask fell pretty far since then. His point total dropped by three last season, and looks to drop at least 12 this time around.
The advantage for Carolina’s front office here is that Rask still carries a good amount of value on the trade market, similar to Faulk. If the Canes decide to move in a different direction from forwards like Rask and Lindholm, and defensman like Faulk, they could get a solid return.
Carolina head coach Bill Peters used Rask mainly as a center this season. He’s floated between the second and third forward lines, with a number of different wingers alongside him. Yet, his plus/minus line is not too shabby, at -1, considering the goal differential for the entire team this season is a dreary -32.
Rask’s defensive presence tends to not be the first thing you would notice about his skill set. However, he’s been decent on the defensive zone during the 2017-18 campaign, which could also signal some type of progression and maturity in his game.
As long as the Canes could get something in return, a move to deal Rask seemingly benefits the organization altogether. He’s about to enter his prime years or production, and he’s moving in the wrong direction in Raleigh.
Every center the Canes tried this season is just a temporary solution to connecting a talented group of wingers. The Canes could give Rask another try, if the forward portion of the depth chart gets a boost during the off-season. Rask is still capable of posting at least 40 points per season.
Answering the question as to whether keeping Rask is the proper move for the Canes falls on how the team builds this summer. A fire sale of some of the more expendable players on the roster likely leaves Rask out of place in a Carolina uniform. Add one or two solid pieces that can maximize Rask’s versatility makes him an attractive option for the Canes to commit to.
Some discussion came about, among certain NHL opinion sites like SB Nation’s Pittsburgh Penguins fan site Pensburgh, that he might have been traded before the 2018 Trade Deadline. Since the Canes did not make a single big splash at the Deadline, that ultimately fell through. Watch out for some trade chatter surrounding Rask’s name this off-season.