Carolina Hurricanes: Three trades they MUST make after the roster freeze ends

DALLAS, TX - JUNE 22: Don Waddell attends the first round of the 2018 NHL Draft at American Airlines Center on June 22, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - JUNE 22: Don Waddell attends the first round of the 2018 NHL Draft at American Airlines Center on June 22, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The Carolina Hurricanes come out from their Christmas break sporting a 15-15-5 record, and sit 6th in the Metropolitan Division. We look at three trades the team simply has to make in order to avoid the ignominy of a NHL-record 10th successive season without playoff hockey.

Ten consecutive years without playoff hockey, That would be quite the statistic, and one that no-one in Raleigh wants for our Carolina Hurricanes – fans, players and management alike are all saying that this has to be the year we break our duck. So, how can we do that? We play in a highly-competitive Metropolitan Division, where the likes of Washington and Pittsburgh routinely rack up high-scoring games and wins.

This is a team that sits just four points off league-bottom – that’s right, four points – and so if management is serious about avoiding the shame of that unwanted playoff drought record, these are three trades that we feel have to be made to make the Carolina Hurricanes more competitive. The roster freeze ends on December 27, and there could be no better time for changes in Raleigh.

Trade 1: Carolina Hurricanes acquire Kevin Hayes for Trevor Carrick + 2019 BUF 2nd round pick

The acquisition of Kevin Hayes would give the Carolina Hurricanes something they desperately need – a second scoring center. Jordan Staal and Victor Rask have both proven incapable of providing the necessary secondary scoring behind Sebastian Aho, and Hayes would unquestionably be able to bring that scoring. He has 30 points in 36 games this season, and is an impending UFA. With the Canes looking at several expensive contract extensions this summer, this is purely a rental – and while any team in the Canes’ position wouldn’t normally look at rentals, this trade is made to secure a playoff berth and to avoid that unwanted record.

The Canes have two 2019 2nd round picks thanks to the Jeff Skinner trade, and we propose sending Buffalo’s second rounder and Trevor Carrick to the Rangers to acquire a player we desperately need. Carrick would blossom in the Rangers’ system, as he would at least stick on their NHL roster rather than being stuck in the AHL due to the Canes’ strong blue line. The Rangers could then look to re-sign Hayes in the summer, if they were so inclined.

Trade 2: Carolina Hurricanes acquire Sam Bennett for Victor Rask + Julien Gauthier

Sam Bennett had a great start to his NHL career, but has faltered badly ever since. No longer referred to as ‘18 year old Sam Bennett‘, he is now 22 years old, and is approaching ‘bust’ status due to Flames fans over-hyping Bennett when he arrived in the league. His rookie season of 18-18-36 remains his career high, with the subsequent two seasons seeing matching 26-point totals, and the season to date seeing just 6-6-12 in 35 games. Bennett is stuck in a bottom six role, unable to break out, and needs a complete change of scenery.

That’s where the Carolina Hurricanes come in. Bennett has undoubted talent, but needs confidence and ice time. Where better than Carolina, where Coach Rod stick by his players, and has top six minutes in abundance for talented scorers. Bennett was a scorer in junior hockey, and knows where the net is – the Canes should buy while his price is at an all-time low.

To get, you generally have to give, and Julien Gauthier has all the hallmarks of being a very good NHL player in the future. Losing a top talent like Gauthier would be tough, but part of the cost is the Canes throwing in Victor Rask, whose production has fallen off a cliff this year and needs a change of scenery as well. Rask’s $4m AAV for the next three years would be much better thrown at Bennett, who is an RFA this summer. This deal would help Canes management with its unenviable task of keeping salary costs down.

Trade 3: Carolina Hurricanes acquire Ty Rattie for 2019 CGY 6th round pick

Ty Rattie had a brief spell of success last season playing on Connor McDavid‘s wing, scoring five goals and four assists in 14 games towards the end of the season. This season, he’s not had the same opportunity, and has just two goals and two assists in 20 games. He’s a low-risk, medium-reward acquisition who can play up and down the lineup as required, and could even allow Warren Foegele to spend some time in Charlotte to regain his scoring touch.

It would be hard to justify Rattie taking a fourth line spot from Brock McGinn, and so Rattie would be a depth signing who would draw into the lineup when injuries and poor form strike. He sports a positive CF% of 51.9% this season and has seen former Canes forward Valentin Zykov take four appearances ahead of him. The Oilers wouldn’t miss Rattie much, but would value the pick; the Canes could potentially benefit from acquiring Rattie, and as such the loss of such a low pick is worth the potential gain.

How the roster would look:

The new forward lines would shake out as follows:

Teuvo Teravainen – Sebastian Aho – Andrei Svechnikov

Sam Bennett – Kevin Hayes – Micheal Ferland

Jordan Martinook – Jordan Staal – Justin Williams

Brock McGinn – Lucas Wallmark – Warren Foegele

Scratches: Ty Rattie / Phil Di Giuseppe

Clark Bishop and Janne Kuokkanen would head back to Charlotte, with Kuokkanen coming in next year for Williams and Martin Necas replacing UFA Kevin Hayes at 2C. This team is faster, younger, and far more dangerous. Crucially, it would be far more effective on the powerplay, as neither Jordan Staal nor Justin Williams would get a look in for the remainder of the season.

Next. Five Canes prospects with a bright future. dark

If General Manager Don Waddell can make these three trades then we can expect these Carolina Hurricanes to play hard and contend for a playoff spot. Heck, even making one of these trades would be a sign to Canes fans that management is serious about changing the team’s fortunes. A statement trade or three, right out of the roster freeze gate, would give Canes fans more excitement than they’ve had in many years. And that’s ignoring the prospect of Martin Necas being recalled after he’s done at the World Juniors.