Carolina Hurricanes: Neither buyers nor sellers at the Trade Deadline?

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) /

With the Carolina Hurricanes on the verge of a playoff spot, now is the time to look at adding players for the team’s playoff run. But should GM Don Waddell consider a bold strategy – not doing anything?

It’s been years since the Carolina Hurricanes were in with a serious chance of a playoff spot. Canes fans have endured the longest of playoff droughts, and this season have seen something miraculous: a rookie owner, a new GM and a rookie coach, all come together and create something very special with their players and fans.

Is there a team in the NHL more in sync with its fans? Is there a team with better locker room chemistry than these Carolina Hurricanes? Is there a rookie coach out there who has defied expectations like Rod Brind’Amour has? The answer to all three is a big, fat, no.

All of which has conspired to put Canes GM Don Waddell in the rather uncomfortable position of deciding whether to risk adding playoff help ahead of next week’s NHL trade deadline – thus risking upsetting the team’s chemistry and lines – or to sell a couple of the team’s impending unrestricted free agents, again upsetting the team but at least adding important futures.

Perhaps Waddell should simply sit back and stick with this current team. The team that leads the entire league in points in 2019. The team that’s scoring goals, keeping them out, and winning hockey games for fun.

Why the team should be buyers

Strike while the iron’s hot, right? The Carolina Hurricanes have clawed their way back into playoff contention with a super-hot run of form in 2019, and could potentially move up to 3rd in the Metro Division tomorrow night if the Columbus Blue Jackets fall to the Tampa Bay Lightning, and the Canes defeat the New York Rangers at PNC Arena.

The team has some areas it could improve on: second line center is a serious contender for an upgrade, while the team’s excellent fourth line of Warren FoegeleGreg McKeggSaku Maenalenen hasn’t done much on the score board in recent weeks. Some depth scoring wouldn’t hurt, particularly if Jordan Staal does not return in the next two weeks or so.

We’ve looked at many options for acquiring some of these pieces in recent weeks. Most recently, we considered re-acquiring former captain Eric Staal as a rental from the Minnesota Wild; we also considered adding Adam Henrique from the Anaheim Ducks due to the term on his upcoming deal, which starts next season. We looked at the ever-hopeful option of acquiring Jesse Puljujarvi from the Edmonton Oilers, of adding the Ferland-esque skills of Wayne Simmonds from the Philadelphia Flyers, and even the potential of adding Jamie Benn from the Dallas Stars.

The buyers market at this NHL trade deadline sees a veritable smorgasbord of talent available. We’ve not once discussed the cost of acquiring a player of Matt Duchene‘s talents – but Waddell should absolutely inquire. Ryan Dzingel would be a cheaper option from the Senators, but either would be that solid, scoring, second-line center the team needs.

If Waddell is confident in his team, he should be out in front ponying up to fill our gaps.

Why the team should be sellers

Simply put, no team wants to see their best players leave for free. The media circus over the John Tavares signing last summer isn’t something anyone wants to see again, and Carolina Hurricanes fans don’t want to wake up on July 1st to see Micheal Ferland signing a long-term deal with the Boston Bruins.

The asking price in this market for a player like Ferland is a 1st round pick plus prospect. For a team that hasn’t made the playoffs in ten years, that’s a crazy package to turn down. Those two assets could help this team become a force in 3-4 years’ time.

In addition, Petr Mrazek‘s recent play should see plenty of interest from contending teams; captain Justin Williams is the perfect trade deadline addition for any contender, with his three Cups and Mr Game 7 nickname. Even waiver-wire pickup Curtis McElhinney would bring some return for Waddell.

Why should Canes fans sit back and watch our free agents depart in the summer, when we can get something in return for them now?

Why the team should stand pat

Team chemistry is often more important than skill and talent in the playoffs. So often in the post-season, great regular season teams are ‘upset’ by lower-seeded teams. Sometimes it’s injuries to key players that changes a series, sometimes it’s one player having a once-in-a-lifetime series – but more often than not, it’s an upstart team that plays for each other that beats a supposedly superior team. The Vegas Golden Knights are an exact case in point – on paper, they should have been a lottery team, instead of one that went through the Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks and Winnipeg Jets en route to losing to the Washington Capitals in the Stanley Cup Final.

Any moves now may adversely affect this team’s chemistry. The addition of Nino Niederreiter was a masterstroke by Waddell – but if he added, say, Jakob Silfverberg now, would he have the same positive impact? It’s a hard one to call, but the Canes have callups ready in Charlotte – Martin Necas, Janne Kuokkanen, Clark Bishop, Jake Bean, Roland McKeown and Alex Nedeljkovic to name just a few – and so perhaps the best option is to let the Baby Canes make the jump, rather than spend assets.

Next. Crucial week ahead in the playoff race. dark

There can be no question – Waddell cannot afford to sell his impending unrestricted free agents. The uproar amongst Carolina Hurricanes fans would be greater than the fury over Don Cherry’s comments and Elias Lindholm’s skol clap combined – it’s simply a non-starter.

The Canes may look to add some depth scoring – a second line center would be a good addition – but if prices are too high or Waddell and Brind’Amour have great faith in the team’s prospect pool, then it’s better for the Carolina Hurricanes to make no moves this trade deadline.

Question for CC readers:

If you were GM, would you make any moves? If so, who would you acquire?