Evaluating The Max Domi Trade; Good But Not Good Enough

Jan 21, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets center Max Domi (16) controls a loose against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the second period at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 21, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets center Max Domi (16) controls a loose against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the second period at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports /

Just as the clock struck three on Monday’s deadline, news broke that the Hurricanes had acquired Max Domi. Many fans, including myself, were just happy to see that Carolina had made a move at all considering the comments from GM Don Waddell and coach Rod Brind’amour leading up to the big day. As the dust settles, I think that we can now better evaluate the deal that sent Domi to Carolina.

This deal had many pieces and many moving parts. Columbus retained fifty percent on Domi’s 5.3 million dollar cap hit, and in return received defensive prospect Aidan Hreschuk from Carolina. Hreschuk was drafted 94th overall in the 2021 entry draft by the Canes. The third selection used to pick Hreshuk originally belonged to the Red Wings, and was a part of the return in the infamous Alex Nedeljkovic trade.

Hreschuk is by all accounts a solid defenseman currently playing for the Boston College Eagles in the NCAA. The 19-year-old has 8 points in 37 games for the Eagles so far this season. Aidan may end up being an NHL defenseman for Columbus, but with how many prospects the Canes currently have in their system, this isn’t a big piece to give up, even if it is for a rental.

Now here is where this deal starts to get a little complicated. Because Carolina was short on cap space, they needed to use the third team to retain another quarter of Domi’s salary in order to fit him into the puzzle. That team happened to be the conference-leading Florida Panthers, which was an unexpected turn.

The Panthers received one Egor Korshkov for their troubles. Korshkov is a six-foot-three winger currently playing in the KHL. Korshkov has 1 NHL goal to his name, scoring his first and only goal during his first and only NHL game for the Maple Leafs during the 2019-20 season.

Korshkov was traded to Carolina in February of 2021 as a part of the deal that sent Canes legend Alex Galchenyuk to Toronto. Egor currently does not have an NHL deal, so Carolina doesn’t lose much by trading him to Florida. The Panthers also received a 2022 sixth-round pick from Columbus.

As well as Max Domi, the Hurricanes also received defensive prospect Tyler Inamoto from Florida. Inamoto is currently playing for the Wisconsin Badgers in the NHL and has 2 points through 26 games during his 2021-22 “super senior” season.

Inamoto was a fifth-round pick by Florida in 2017 and most likely will not be an NHL player. Tyler does not have an entry-level contract and most likely will not receive one from the Hurricanes. Another addition to the trade can’t hurt I guess.

Now onto the final piece of this trade, Maxwell Johannes Domi. Fans around the league are familiar with Domi, mainly due to his pedigree and reputation of stirring things up on the ice. The trade itself for the Canes was good, getting Domi at seventy-five percent of his cap hit makes him a much more attractive asset. But, there is a reason why the Hurricanes were able to get him for so cheap.

Although the deal itself is very fair value, I do not think that Max Domi adds that much to this lineup.  When looking at Domi’s numbers, they are not bad on the surface. 9 goals, 23 assists, and 32 points in 53 games for the offense-starved Columbus Blue Jackets seems solid enough. When we break it down, however, it begins to show an uglier picture.

In his last 30 games as a Blue Jacket Max Domi only scored once. That is not a good sign for a team like the Hurricanes who are looking for more finishing talent. Domi is often referred to as a “gritty” player but when looking into it I ask the question, how so?

So far this season the winger is credited with 15 hits and 1 fight to boot. For reference, that is 31 fewer hits than noted goon Seth Jarvis. I understand most of this reputation likely comes with his last name, but I am finding trouble locating what needs Domi fills for the Hurricanes.

As for fit, Max Domi is pretty versatile in terms of lineup placement but I’m not sure where exactly he slots in. One may think he knocks Martin Necas down in the lineup and takes his spot on the second line, but I’m not sure messing with the top 6 after they *just* got their mojo back is the best idea.

He isn’t quite skillful enough to be on the top line, and I don’t think using Domi on the third line would be the best idea either. The third line is usually deployed as a defensive shut down line, and that does not fit Domi’s games whatsoever. The biggest weakness in Max’s game is his inability to play defense.

In my opinion, the best place for Domi would be on the fourth line alongside former Habs teammate Jesperi Kotkaniemi. Domi would be an upgrade over Jesperi’s current wingers, and add a little bit more skill to the bottom of the lineup.

In a vacuum, this is a very good trade, but when you’re a team as good as the Carolina Hurricanes, context becomes very important. Domi is fine, but he does not move the needle all that much for this team. If this was 2019 Max Domi I would be over the moon, but as it stands now this is just the latest reclamation project for this Canes team.

Let me emphasize again, the movie itself was good, but it is not good enough for a team trying to win a Stanley Cup. I get they didn’t have cap space and didn’t want to trade their 2023 first-round pick, but the Canes front office is too creative to use that as an excuse. While every other contender got better, particularly in the Eastern Conference, it feels like the Hurricanes got left behind.

The real winner in this deal is Max Domi. This is by far the best roster Domi has ever been a part of, and he has a real opportunity to show off what he can do with an elite team. This just so happens to become an audition of sorts in the sense that this is his last chance to potentially earn a huge deal as a free agent this summer.

I hope I’m wrong and Domi absolutely crushes it over the next 19 games and into the playoffs. But as it stands now, although this move itself was good, the trade deadline as a whole felt like a missed opportunity to fix some rough edges on the team. We will see Max take the ice for the first time as a Hurricane Thursday night against the Dallas Stars.

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