The Carolina Hurricanes shocked their fanbase with three trades that added offense and defense to the team. What if none of it happened?
Its time for some revisionist history. In my “what if” series I’m going to go back, mess with the timeline for the Carolina Hurricanes and take a look at the results of my mess. The first one will be a simple change; What if Don Waddell decided to not make a single trade at the deadline and instead opt to wait for his defenders to recover?
First things first, the Carolina Hurricanes went into the trade deadline coming off of the best and worst single game of their entire franchise history. While the legend of David Ayres is one that makes it the best, losing James Reimer, Petr Mrazek, and Brett Pesce put the team in a precautious predicament.
While goaltending seemed to be the fix that needed to be addressed, Waddell chose to bolster his defense while retooling his offense adding Brady Skjei, Sami Vatanen, and Vincent Trocheck while only losing NHLers Lucas Wallmark and Erik Haula.
But what if all these trades were too rich for his blood? What if he stayed pat at the deadline and decided to let the season play out with the cards he had, not feeling the need to gut the farm system or give up so many picks. How would have history played out?
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Well for starters there would be an extra forward on the team, but the defense would be missing a man. That would have most likely resulted in Jake Bean getting called up while everyone waited for Dougie Hamilton to get better. Would he have been ready to go? Possibly, but he would have probably looked invisible in his first NHL game this season.
His real impact on the game probably wouldn’t have come until the game against Montreal on February 29th. But I will break down the games here in a bit.
Erik Haula and Lucas Wallmark would still have been on the roster. Jordan Staal would still be slotted as the second center. So how would these changes adjust the scoreboards?
February 25th: Stars at Hurricanes
The David Ayres welcome to Raleigh game. Now eventually the Hurricanes lost this game, beginning a spiraling four-game losing streak, but what if they went into it with the roster that Ayres played with?
The first period would have gone very similarly with two adjustments. Erik Haula, who was a big reason behind Ayres like he did, would have gotten on the board at some time during the first putting the fans into the game. But the Stars would still have taken advantage of a defense trying to figure itself out and advantage of an NHL first start in 2020 Alex Nedjelkovic to score first.
While the original first period saw three goals scored by the stars, one came on a powerplay while Trocheck was sitting in the box for tripping. Take that goal off the board. Suddenly they go into the locker room down 2-1 instead of 3-0.
Sebastian Aho would again score to start off the second, tying the game this time. Denis Gurianov would have followed that up with another Stars tally sending the Canes to the Locker room down one again. Still better than the 4-1 score that it was in the real timeline.
The third period would have seen a better push by the Hurricanes to tie the game and take it to overtime. Stars would still be the better team taking the win, but Carolina would take the extra point towards the standings putting them at 75 points.
February 28th: Avalanche at Hurricanes
The Tyson Jost and Teuvo Terravainen game. Brady Skjei had an assist to Turbo in this game. The entire team seemed without the heart to push against an excellent Avalanche team. To be fair, in this timeline, Aho never gets the puck from Skjei to dish deep to Turbo and this game never gets tied at two.
The Avalanche still win, but without the need for Samuel Girard‘s late-game heroics. Forsberg looked lost in this game, and there is no way to convince me that Haula or Wallmark would have been the difference-makers on offense.
February 29th: Hurricanes at Canadiens
Another crazy game with netminding changes that happens in Canada. Down 3-0, the Hurricanes rallied back for overtime, losing the winning point in the extra frame. So what happens in this new timeline? The Hurricanes win in regulation.
Wait, what? How?
The Hurricanes got an early penalty only six minutes into the game when Brett Kulak high-sticked Justin Williams that went without a tally. Adjust the roster a little and give me powerplay Erik Haula who is no looking to impress anyone looking to pay him money in the offseason. He finds the back of the net early in this one.
Now Montreal rallies back with three goals to take a solid lead, but Haydn Fleury, Williams, and Joel Edmundson mount a comeback of their own to retake the lead before the final horn. The Hurricanes are now full two points ahead in this timeline over the real one.
March 5th: Hurricanes at Flyers
This is the Flyers at their best. A buzzsaw cutting their way up the Metro standings. There is no point in revisiting this game, the Hurricanes were not playing well and changing around three players isn’t going to change anything.
But coming off a win in Montreal and three points in the last three games, the loss in Philidelphia probably wouldn’t have had the same sting that saw the Hurricanes fanbase wonder if this team was done for the season. So what happens next?
March 7th: Hurricanes at Islanders
This one is going to sting. Between the two timelines, there is only a single change. How overtime plays out. Only 90 seconds into the third period, Andrei Svechnikov started the biggest controversy to happen to the Islanders since that white SUV parked in the corner.
A non-high-stick shot attempt pings across the crossbar, over the net, and back into play where Vincent Trocheck finds it to bury it into the net and the Hurricanes leave with a victory. Except in this reality, Trocheck is still in Florida.
The attempt goes for naught and the Islanders come back the other way to end the game with a win that has them tied with the Hurricanes for a playoff spot, negating not only one of the extra points picked up in this timeline but the second one too that is now needed to compete with the one the Islanders picked up.
March 8th: Hurricanes at Penguins
You thought that last game stung? Listen to this: No Morgan Geekie. That’s right, with both Haula and Wallmark on the roster, Dzingel’s short injury means that Geekie never gets looked at as a call-up. Why would they? They have all the players they need, right here. It also means that this game against the Penguins is a lot closer than the 6-2 whopping it turned out to be.
The Hurricanes go into the locker room after the first period down 2-0 instead of 2-1 without the feed that Jake Gardiner gives to Geekie. Luckily the Hurricanes have multiple players that can score multiple goals and Justin Williams becomes the new hero in the city of steel to steal away the game from the Penguins and the Hurricanes remain afloat.
March 10th: Hurricanes at Red Wings
This is where things get really dicey in this new timeline. Geekie opens up the scoring in mo-town. But without him on the roster, that never happens. Tyler Bertuzzi gets the ice breaker to start the game 1-0 for Detroit and the Canes go into the locker room down 1-0.
The second period originally started with Nino Niederreiter scoring the go-ahead goal to begin the frame. But that was assisted by Vincent Trocheck. Take that one off the board and watch Christoffer Ehn give the Red Wings a 2-0 lead that goes with them into the locker room after 40.
The Hurricanes would need this win to secure a playoff spot before the hiatus. Do they have what it takes to secure a win in Motor City in the third alone? Perhaps.
In the end, these adjustments are only based on the tiny variables I know about. to be frank, who knows what could have happened had Haula and Wallmark stayed on the roster. Who knows what Jake Bean could have done?
I haven’t talked about the team’s finances, but the team took on a lot of contract to take in Skjei and Trocheck. Vatanen was a rental, one that may never play as a Hurricane. That trade is completely inconsequential to any team other than New Jersey and the Checkers perhaps.
Question for CC Readers: What do you think would have happened if no one got traded to Carolina?