Big-Game Hunting at Trade Deadline for Canes?

Pittsburgh Penguins v Minnesota Wild
Pittsburgh Penguins v Minnesota Wild / Nick Wosika/GettyImages

The trade deadline approaches for the Carolina Hurricanes and the rest of the NHL. March 8th is closer and closer, with the standings beginning to separate the contenders from the sellers. The Canes are without a doubt a contender that should be in the market for scoring depth.

Last year at the deadline Don Waddell played it safe and made several smaller moves rather than a big splash like others in the Metro Division. That later came to burn him as Andrei Svechnikov went down for the season with an injury and the Canes were left with a gaping hole on the top wing.

This year may be the last chance for Waddell to make a real splash to push this team over the edge. The team is strong and deep, which has been proven over the last few seasons but they are missing that finisher to strike fear in the opponent.

The summer will bring much work for the front office with several key players being restricted and unrestricted free agents. The pay raise for the restricted free agents will prevent the Canes from doing much in the free agent market. For that reason, Waddell will be looking for a rental.

More teams are determining their position for the deadline as time passes and the Pittsburgh Penguins seem to be in sell mode. After Kyle Dubas left Toronto for Pittsburgh, the organization was re-tooling to go for another run with Sidney Crosby. That has not worked out as planned thus far.

One player on the Penguins with an expiring contract is Jake Guentzel. The 29-year-old forward is having another strong season with 22 goals and 52 points. Having scored 36 goals last season, Guentzel has shown the ability to light the lamp with two 40-goal campaigns in his career.

A left-handed shot, the Omaha, Nebraska native knows his way around the net but also is responsible in his zone, being a career plus 53.

Despite the Penguins being sellers and the former third-round draft choice having no contract extension, Guentzel will not come cheap. The Canes have the draft capital to make a big trade happen but will need to include younger players. A prospect or player from the NHL roster may need to be included, to at least offset the salaries.

Another problem with Guentzel will be the fact that he could be the best available player at the deadline. That will come with many serious inquiries from fellow contending teams. The price will surely be raised because of this.

A similar center that is not necessarily on the block, but is a home run, would be Brock Nelson from the New York Islanders. Slightly older, Nelson does have one more year remaining on his contract. With 24 goals this year, the Minnesota native has turned up his scoring in the last three seasons. Normally a low 20's scorer, Nelson has 37 and 36 goals in the last two seasons.

The Islanders have an aging roster and could look to sell off assets. Surely, the draft choices available from the Canes would be the main piece as the Islanders would not look to contend this season after trading Nelson.

It would be nice to see Waddell aim high for the deadline to boost the energy and expectations around the organization.