Should the Hurricanes Hold onto Their First Round Picks?

The Carolina Hurricanes are reportedly shopping for a defender and one of their two first round picks is on the trade block. Should they hold onto them instead?

The NHL Trade Deadline is a little over a week away, Monday, February 24th, and the Carolina Hurricanes find themselves in a highly congested playoff race. With six Metro Division teams in the leagues’ top ten, what they do this upcoming week is crucial if they want to separate themselves from the rest of the pack.

Linked to several players over the past couple of weeks, the Canes enter the deadline with two draft choices in each of the first three rounds and a deep prospect pool for Don Waddell to potentially play around with. Given the teams’ current position in the standings, it goes without saying that they shouldn’t and likely won’t give up either of their first round selections for a rental.

Going back to day two of the 2019 NHL draft, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Carolina Hurricanes swung a deal. Sending a 2020 sixth round selection Toronto’s way in exchange for veteran forward Patrick Marleau, a conditional first round pick and a 2020 seventh rounder, the Canes were able to take advantage of the Leafs’ cap crunch.

Related Story: Canes Buy Out Marleau

Soon after the deal went down, Marleau’s contract would be bought out by the Hurricanes, paving the way for his return to San Jose. While it would have be interesting to see Patrick in a Canes jersey, Waddell and Tom Dundon basically bought themselves another first rounder.

Even though there are conditions on the pick, should it be in the top ten in 2020 it’ll defer to a 2021 unprotected first, the deal was smart asset management from the Hurricanes brass. Flash forward to February, the Toronto Maple Leafs are among the teams fighting for their playoff lives, making the deal look like even more of a steal for the Canes if that was even possible.

While Toronto will likely get it together and make the playoffs, Carolina would be smart to hold onto the pick. Looking back at history, the Maple Leafs haven’t won a playoff series since the 03-04 season, with them losing in the first round each of the past three seasons. While it doesn’t guarantee it’ll be the same story this time around,  it wouldn’t be too surprising if it happened again.

Should the season end today, the Canes first round pick would be in the top fifteen, with its exact spot dependent on the lottery results. Should they make the playoffs that pick would more than likely fall somewhere in the 20-25 range.

Related Story: Potential Trade Targets

Praised by scouts, the 2020 draft class looks to be one of the deepest in recent memory, with  dynamic forwards Alexis Lafreniere, Quinton Byfield and Alexander Holtz sitting a top draft rankings. Even though, barring a total collapse, these players will be long gone before the Hurricanes’ first rounder, there will still be a ton of quality players available.

Names like Jack Quinn, Lukas Reichel and Tim Stutzle are all expected to hear their names called in the back half of the first round. While these players aren’t household names just yet, they are all elite in their respected leagues and project to be the next NHL stars. If they make the playoffs or not, these are a few of the names likely to be available around the time of both of the first rounders.

Currently sitting at number ten on TSN’s trade bait list, the Hurricanes’ first carries a lot of value around the league. NHL general managers know the importance of building through the draft and, given the depth of the 2020 class, deadline sellers are salivating at the chance to load up on upcoming picks. Being one of the few teams with two first, some are speculating that Carolina could possibly move one of the two picks.

When you look at the names the Canes are rumored to be interested in, none of them should require a first rounder going the other way.

No matter how you feel about them, the going rate for guys like Alec Martinez (although not a true rental with one more year on his deal), Brenden Dillon and Sami Vatanen is a second round pick and B prospect, or equivalent. With two seconds and two thirds, a deal like this is much more in line with the mindset and direction Carolina should be heading.

Related Story: Canes Looking to Add to the Blueline?

While Waddell and Dundon have both been on record saying it doesn’t make much sense to give up a first for rentals, especially given the current state of the team, they’ve been linked to a few guys with term. Names like Jonas Brodin and Matt Dumba have both be mentioned as possible targets. In this case any deal would likely have to include more valuable assets going the other way, i.e. one of the first.

At the end of the day it is more than likely that Waddell’s reported interest in acquiring a defenseman this deadline is a result of Dougie Hamilton‘s long term injury. With him out of the lineup, players have to slot a bit higher up on the back end which is less than ideal.Bring in a capable top four guy does make sense for the short term but only at a reasonable cost.

Looking at the quality of players available this deadline, and the guys likely to be available in the 15-25 range at the upcoming NHL draft, the Canes should be smart and hold onto not one but both of their first round picks.

Question for CC readers: Who would you be willing to give up a first round pick for?

Next: Carolina loses out on Zucker
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