Carolina Hurricanes: Trading Up in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft

DALLAS, TX - JUNE 22: A general view of the Carolina Hurricanes draft table is seen during the first round of the 2018 NHL Draft at American Airlines Center on June 22, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - JUNE 22: A general view of the Carolina Hurricanes draft table is seen during the first round of the 2018 NHL Draft at American Airlines Center on June 22, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The Carolina Hurricanes have 10 draft picks at this year’s NHL Entry Draft. Here’s what they could do to trade up in the Draft this year.

This year’s draft class, despite featuring prominent players like Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko, is set to be the weakest draft class we’ve seen in a long time. There may be a few hidden gems in the later rounds, but that remains to be seen.

Despite this, the Hurricanes are set to be winners in the draft regardless, as they have 10 picks to make this year even though they made it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals. Out of these 10 picks, half are made in the first three rounds. The Canes are set to pick 28th in the 1st Round; they hold their own 2nd Round pick, as well as the Buffalo Sabres’ and New York Rangers’ 2nd Round picks.

There won’t be any speculation as to who the Hurricanes should pick in each round in this article. Rather, I thought we should take a look at potentially trading up in the draft while simultaneously saving a bit of cap space that could end up helping the team out a ton during Free Agency.

That being said, some of you are not going to like what I suggest we do to trade up in the draft this year. There are very few instances in which I would attempt to trade up this year if I were Don Waddell; one in particular stands out to me.

Letting Haydn Fleury go for higher picks in the draft, or a combination of a player and a single higher pick is honestly the best situation if we were to look at trading up. Before I jump all the way into this, I’m going to offer yet another disclaimer: Haydn Fleury is a solid hockey player. I greatly enjoy watching him play, and I’m outrageously grateful for his contributions on both the Hurricanes roster and the Checkers roster.

The latter half of this is sort of why it makes sense to move Fleury on Draft Day. Fleury is no longer waiver-eligible, meaning he is ineligible to be sent to the AHL without first clearing waivers, and would remain a member of the Carolina Hurricanes’ roster. He would then subsequently be a healthy scratch if the Hurricanes are unable to find a fit for him in their top-6 defensemen. If sent on waivers, any team has a chance to pick him up, free of charge. (Thanks for McElhinney, Toronto!)

Fleury is more of a defensive defenseman, and despite being left-handed, finds himself the odd man out if the Hurricanes keep their defensive core untouched going into the 2019-20 season.

It wouldn’t make sense to bench a former Top-10 pick, but crazier things have happened. I, personally, feel that Fleury’s upside remains too large to bench him. He would inevitably lose morale, and want out. I doubt he’d even sign a contract in the first place if he knew what his role on the team would be if this were the case, but I digress.

This theoretical situation leaves the Hurricanes, Fleury included, in a bit of a weird spot. In my opinion, the Hurricanes should move him on Draft Day; they would have plenty of interested suitors. Fleury is a solid defenseman who still has yet to hit his prime. 27 of the League’s 31 teams will be picking ahead of the Hurricanes this June; I’d honestly like to see him involved in a potential trade with the Montreal Canadiens.

The Canadiens are actively shopping for a left-handed defenseman, and they hold the 15th overall pick this year. This is not a bad pick by any means, and I could easily see the Hurricanes moving Fleury and a 2nd or 3rd for 15th overall. This could see the Hurricanes potentially drafting a player such as Dylan Cozens, Bobby Brink, or Ville Heinola according to some draft rankings. Not to mention the fact that Haydn’s brother, Cale, is currently playing within the Canadiens’ organization.

Again, Fleury is not a bad hockey player. I have every ounce of faith that he will eventually be a Top-4 defenseman. It just remains increasingly difficult to see him fit in with the Top-6 defenseman on the Hurricanes roster if we keep our current defensive core of Jaccob Slavin, Dougie Hamilton, Calvin de Haan, Justin Faulk, Trevor van Riemsdyk, and Brett Pesce together for next season.

Then, there is the case of Jake Bean. Bean is looking to be NHL-ready as early as next season, and in my opinion, holds quite a bit more upside than Haydn Fleury. I would honestly hate to see Fleury go, but this move makes more than a bit of sense to me.

The Hurricanes are absolutely stacked on defense, and I’m thrilled; this blessing, however, doesn’t come without the unfortunate business of shedding a player or two here and there as needed.

light. Trending. Pittsburgh Penguins As A Trade Partner

If nothing else, the Hurricanes have something this offseason that they haven’t had in a very, very long time. Options. I, for one, am very excited to see how Waddell and Co. handle it.

Question for CC Readers: Do you agree with moving Fleury to move up in the Draft? If not, how would you handle the situation involving him potentially being a consistent healthy scratch?