In 2019, Justin Faulk was a man on the move. He had been in Carolina for nine years with his name in the annual rumor mill. Faulk was being traded by fans across the NHL to Toronto, Montreal, Winnipeg, Boston, Minnesota… but one trade that came seemingly close and fell through is the deal that almost sent Justin Faulk to Anaheim.
Now, the full details of this deal were never released, so we only know pieces of what was going on. But what we do know is that at the time, there were some strong links that Carolina was trying to pry Ondrej Kase out of the heart of Orange County. Whether there was traction to this rumor or not is different, but Carolina certainly had a long-term interest in the Czech winger.
We know that in the end, Faulk was moved to St Louis in exchange for Joel Edmundson, Dominik Bokk, and a swap of late-round draft picks. Bokk is developing quite well, and Edmundson was moved for an extra pick, but what could have happened if the deal with Anaheim hadn’t been nixed? What could have happened with Ondrej Kase?
At the time, Kase was an analytical darling. He still has many facets of his game that are underappreciated, but he has a tough time showing them off. Not because he isn’t a good player, but because Kase has a horrible injury track record. His concussion history has made it incredibly difficult to expect anything serious from him, and it’s why he signed in Toronto this free agency for $1.25 million.
In Carolina, Kase’s career could have taken off if he had the ability to stay healthy, He very well could have filled the void on the right-hand side that was left on the team when Justin Williams took that time off to consider his future in hockey. It could have been a major addition to the top 6. It’s important to remember, Kase has a LOT of talent. He’s hit 20 goals and 38 points in 66 games. He’s not a flash in the pan player.
Kase’s major issue is that… those 66 games are the most he’s ever played in an NHL season. He’s not exactly challenging the all-time Ironman streak record yet. But a healthy Kase could easily put up 20 goals consistently, and he improves the depth of the team. It’s an interesting hypothetical scenario. If Kase had become a Hurricane, would his injury issues have persisted? It’s a question we will never know the answer to.
It also means that Edmundson is never a Hurricane and that the 2020 deadline that saw Brady Skjei become a Carolina Hurricane is potentially very different from the deadline we saw in reality. It’s an interesting situation, and a fun topic to talk about when we are only 18 days from the start of a new NHL season.