The Carolina Hurricanes Have a Trade Partner in the Winnipeg Jets

Hurricanes' Martin Necas has been the center of trade rumors this off-season
Hurricanes' Martin Necas has been the center of trade rumors this off-season / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

While the free agent frenzy has calmed, and several new faces are on their way to Raleigh, the Carolina Hurricanes offseason is far from over.  The Canes still have nearly $12 million in cap space, seemingly having some crucial Top 6 slots to fill in the depth chart.   In other words, we know a trade will be coming.   Recent speculation from TSN's Jay Onrait suggests it might be with the Winnipeg Jets. What could a trade with the Jets do for the Hurricanes?  Let’s explore the possibilities.

A potential Hurricanes-Jets trade likely starts with two excellent NHL players looking for a change of scenery, Martin Necas and Nikolaj Ehlers.   Martin Necas has been front and center across Hurricanes news and trade rumors throughout the summer. The 25-year-old restricted free agent wants more responsibility and would like to play center. With 52 goals and 142 points over the last two seasons, Necas is an excellent NHL player, but it is fair to wonder if he has another level to his game and whether that level would come in Rod Brind’Amour’s structured system.   

Nikolaj Ehlers is three years older than Necas and exclusively plays on the wing. While he has been a solid producer throughout his time in Winnipeg, scoring over 20 goals in 7 of his 9 NHL seasons, he has struggled to stay healthy at times and has never scored more than 64 points in a season (though he’s scored 60 points three times).  All this to say that Ehlers is an excellent player who would help the Canes, but Necas seems to be the better player.  If this is a trade possibility, it is doubtful that the Hurricanes would be okay with a 1 for 1 swap.

Interestingly, the Jets are currently in a predicament with their 2022 first round pick (14th overall) Rutger McGroarty.  Murat Ates of The Athletic says that the Jets worked hard to trade McGroarty during the draft. McGroarty has concluded his second season at the University of Michigan and was a crucial player on the United States gold-medal-winning team at the 2024 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships.  His Elite Prospects page also lists him with two-way center potential, and we all know that Rod Brind’Amour loves a good two-way center.

Would an Ehlers and McGroarty for the Necas trade be enough to get the job done? Probably not. While a 1-for-1 trade seems to favor the Jets heavily, just adding McGroarty would significantly favor the Hurricanes.   With a trove of picks and lesser prospects, however, the Hurricanes could likely balance out this deal easily with a mid-round pick and a lesser prospect with potential (Ryan Suzuki, perhaps?).  This could easily end up as a win-win deal.  The Jets would get a high-tier forward to upgrade their Top 6 and could easily offer Necas the opportunity for the expanded role that he craves.  The Canes, on the other hand, would get a solid win-now player along with an on-the-cusp prospect that could greatly contribute to the Hurricanes plans.

We don’t know what Hurricanes GM Eric Tulsky and Jets GM Kevin Chevaldayoff are discussing, but these rumors create some excitement for a Hurricanes future, after the hits that the team took in free agency.  We can be sure of one thing, however.  Whether it is with the Jets or another team, a Hurricanes trade is coming.