Building the 2021-22 Carolina Hurricanes roster – Goalies

Building the 2021-22 Carolina Hurricanes roster – Goalies

After the kick-off of free agency for the NHL on Wednesday, I covered the team’s decision to sign defenseman Tony DeAngelo. That remains the single biggest signing in the sense that it has the potential to do irreparable damage the the team’s reputation and its hockey community. Today’s follow up on Wednesday’s flurry of activity is a bit lighter, taking a look at what the Hurricanes did with the goalie position. The Hurricanes’ goalie maneuvering started with a bang with a surprise trade of Alex Nedeljkovic to Detroit for a very modest return of a third-round draft pick and negotiating rights to Jonathan Bernier. Management expressed a preference for going with two veteran netminders in what it called a ‘win now’ mode. I am not 100 percent convinced on Nedeljkovic either after a strong but short 23-game run in 2020-21, but at the same time, I would have given Nedeljkovic a bit more runway. Young, top-tier goalies are such a rarity, that I think better is to at least roll the dice. Worst case, if he struggles in 2021-22, the team could have added help at the trade deadline and moved on next summer. But that was water under the bridge by the time free agency opened. In general, I think the team’s strategy is to have two capable veteran goalies at moderate 1A/1B salaries. Petr Mrazek and Jonathan Bernier could have been options, and the team said that it was negotiating with both, but I think the team viewed them as just two options on a list that maybe had up to 5-6 possibilities in an off-season that...
Carolina Hurricanes sign Tony DeAngelo

Carolina Hurricanes sign Tony DeAngelo

Wednesday’s opening of free agency created a multitude of Canes hockey news. When the dust settled, the departed included Dougie Hamilton, Brock McGinn, Petr Mrazek, James Reimer, Warren Foegele, Cedric Paquette and prospect Roland McKeown. Jordan Martinook was the only unrestricted free agent from the 2020-21 season to be re-signed. The new arrivals included Frederik Andersen, Antti Raanta, Ethan Bear, Ian Cole, Josh Leivo and most notably Tony DeAngelo. That makes for a whopping 14 players either coming or going on a single day and seemingly a ton of different things to debate/discuss in terms of building the 2021-22 lineup. But by far and away the news over the past two days has been initially rumors that the Hurricanes were considering signing Tony DeAngelo and then the resolution that saw that come true. I will not detail all of the transgressions here, but DeAngelo’s rap sheet includes using racial slurs as a junior player in addition to a couple suspensions for berating/accosting referees and most recently getting into an altercation with a teammate. The end result was DeAngelo being suspended and ultimately bought out by the Rangers who were already his third team after two others had moved on. He was six games in a two-year $9.6 million (total) contract when the Rangers decided to move on. There are so many possible angles to the Hurricanes decision to sign Tony DeAngelo to a one-year ‘prove it’ contract for $1 million, but as is often the case with messy situations like this, I think the simplest and most direct angles are usually the ones that rule the day.   Signing...
NHL free agency begins with Canes having multiple key spots to fill

NHL free agency begins with Canes having multiple key spots to fill

At least on social media, the swirling fires on NHL free agency eve had to do with reports that the Hurricanes could make offers to Tony DeAngelo and Jake Virtanen, both of whom come loaded with issues. I voted ‘no’ on Tony DeAngelo on Twitter but will save any detailed thoughts on either player for if something actually happens.   Dougie Hamilton The other biggest news is that lack of news on the Dougie Hamilton front. It looks like he will officially become an unrestricted free agent on Wednesday. I do not have any inside scoop on his situation, but my best guess is that the does have an offer or two that are from teams that need to lead with a bunch of money to get attention. New Jersey and Montreal both make sense, but there could be any number of other bidders. I think the lack of anything definitive today could suggest that Hamilton still has a preference to re-sign with the Hurricanes but that the gap in the offers is too big. Especially with Waddell’s comments a couple days earlier that the two sides seemed to still be negotiating, it seems reasonable that the quiet could be Hamilton giving his agent time to try to get more from the Hurricanes before making a difficult choice. I am on record as saying that the mostly likely time for Hamilton to sign with the Hurricanes would have been over the weekend, so I am not overly optimistic at this point. Per more detailed thoughts awhile back, I am mostly okay with letting Hamilton depart if it takes a...
Hurricanes trade Alex Nedeljkovic to Detroit for 3rd round draft pick and negotiating rights to Jonathan Bernier

Hurricanes trade Alex Nedeljkovic to Detroit for 3rd round draft pick and negotiating rights to Jonathan Bernier

Not wasting anytime once the NHL markets reopened after the expansion draft, on Thursday not too long after the 1pm reopen, the Hurricanes traded goalie Alex Nedeljkovic to the Detroit Red Wings for a third round draft pick and negotiating rights to Jonathan Bernier. Bernier is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent next week, so he represents not so much the return of a player but rather a few days head start in negotiations if he and the Canes are a good match for both. The move was maybe not as surprising as some might think. The challenge with Nedeljkovic is that though he was scheduled to become a restricted free agent, he had arbitration rights. With strong results in an impressive even if small sample 2021-22 season, the upside comparable from his side was goin to be Jordan Binnington who received a two-year contract for $4.4 million after his Cam Ward-like rookie season that ended with a Stanley Cup win. Who knows how close Nedeljkovic could would have been to that ceiling, but with the unpredictability of arbitration the potential was there.   The decision At the end of the day, I think it really came down to a single question  — How much faith would they put in Alex Nedeljkovic based on 23 starts in a strong rookie seasonhow much risk were they willing to take? Yes. Nedeljkovic was good in a small sample size, but I just do not think the team’s brain trust viewed him as a ‘the guy’ type of goalie and rightfully so considers him to be a bit riskier than a...
Seattle Kraken expansion draft day

Seattle Kraken expansion draft day

The day is here. Today former Hurricanes player, captain and General Manager Ron Francis will build an NHL team from scratch. Most interesting to me will be seeing how creative Francis is with a plethora of options to do some combination of building a team for 2021-22, collecting futures and leveraging a unique position. My gut feeling is that he will not be creative enough with some interesting options, but I am ready to be proven wrong. Even more so than the Vegas draft, I think there are good opportunities to acquire some players with the intent of trading some of them later. Per previous comments, I think most interesting is the possibility to maybe draft a higher-end player or two who are overpriced a bit, discount them down to a better salary and then collect a good return on them. From a Hurricanes standpoint, there continues to be a buzz around Dougie Hamilton. I am on record as believing it makes no sense to spend a selection on a player who could instead be signed as a free agent one week later. Given that the Hurricanes granted Hamilton the chance to talk to other teams, there is nothing to keep Seattle from hammering out a deal and signing it next week after selecting another Hurricanes player on Wednesday. One angle that could make sense is that by selecting Hamilton Seattle makes him feel more loved which is what makes him want to join the new team. Another angle is that by selecting him, Seattle would gain the ability to sign Hamilton to an eight-year deal whereas the maximum...
Searching for diamonds in the rough — Part 1 of 2

Searching for diamonds in the rough — Part 1 of 2

The discussion/comments for yesterday’s Daily Cup of Joe on the expansion draft ‘breezy’ brought up the possibility of trading Jake Gardiner for Buffalo’s Rasmus Ristolainen. The comment reminded me again of something I have kicked around a few times but have yet to dedicate an entire article to which is the possibility of finding underrated diamonds in the rough if you will on struggling teams. The Hurricanes have made quick progress in the Tom Dundon era with Rod Brind’Amour at the coaching help pushing into the playoffs in three consecutive years. And at least during the regular season, the team was in the upper echelon of the NHL in 2020-21. But the last step remaining to make a run at the Stanley Cup is the most challenging one. The team is now pushing up against the salary cap with young players scheduled to be re-signed for a higher cost which adds pressure in terms of time and also budget. No doubt Seth Jones would make the Hurricanes, or any team, better. But trying to win bidding wars for clearly high-end players is difficult and fraught with the peril of the winner’s curse. And even if the Hurricanes could win a big bidding war for a high-end free agent or trade option, it would be really difficult to make the salary cap math work. Somehow the team needs to find a way to make improvements at something less than market value. Enter today’s Daily Cup of Joe — Trying to find diamonds in the rough from downtrodden teams who with a change of scenery could find a higher gear. As...