In the span of a week, the Carolina Hurricanes drafted 12 players, completed two trades bought out a player, made three trades and parted ways with Charlotte Checkers Head Coach and Assistant General Manager Mike Vellucci.
That is quite a week.
If you were away, here is a clickable menu to catch up:
Today’s extra Saturday Daily Cup of Joe offers a primer on what could potentially be the next burst of activity when free agency opens for the NHL on July.
The ‘insiders’ lack of legitimate information
The Hurricanes have received more than their fair share of attention from the broader hockey media. For a short stretch, the rumors and rumblings seemed to focus on the Hurricanes potentially trading Brett Pesce. That seems to have faded away. More recently, the rumblings have offered a bizarre range of facts (suggesting most of it cannot be true because of the level of conflict) considering the Hurricanes negotiations with Sebastian Aho. Though I am on record as thinking it makes no sense, the flavor of the week lately has been the potential of an offer sheet for Sebastian Aho.
But amidst the significant volume of rumors related to the Hurricanes, I do not recall seeing a single thing on a trade for Patrick Marleau, the Calvin de Haan deal or the trade for Erik Haula. There have been a few comments suggesting that the insiders knew about these things, but that seems odd given that they spend chunk of days spewing out potential deals. I guess they just forgot to mention these?
I think the upshot is that I think the secrecy around the Hurricanes from Ron Francis’ brief Fort Knox era seems to have carried forward into the Don Waddell/Tom Dundon era.
That is something to consider over the next few days. Until the NHL insiders build some kind of track record that suggests they do have sources and a read on the Hurricanes dealings, I think best is to assume that they do not.
The work yet to be done for the Hurricanes
1) In goal — Add a #1 or #1A goalie
As I wrote previously, the move to add Anton Forsberg (who I figure to be #3/AHL depth) seems to suggest that Alex Nedeljkovic will be one of the two Hurricanes goalies come opening day. The burning question is who will be the second goalie. I am on record as thinking that Petr Mrazek is much more likely to be re-signed than some think. But there are also multiple other options.
I think there are three different plays here. Simplest and I think most likely is that the Hurricanes come to agreement with Mrazek after he had a few days to explore options with other teams.
A second play would be that the team has targeted another free agent or trade option. That ball comes into play once free agency opens.
Finally, I think considering how last summer went down could be relevant. Last summer, the Hurricanes did not act quickly and/or aggressively to ‘go get their guy.’ Rather, the Hurricanes seemed to content patiently shop for value. The result was a risky, bargain basement one-year deal for $1.5 million for Petr Mrazek. If the Hurricanes do not get Mrazek and do not see any of the other options as being significantly superior to the others, do they just wait it out for a bargain? Is it possible that the team believes that the improved defense last year was more the team defense than the goaltending? That could also suggest waiting. If the Hurricanes do go that route, it will be a white knuckler for the fan base especially if Mrazek signs elsewhere.
2) At forward — Is there one more move on the way? And how big is it?
As of right now, the Hurricanes are down Micheal Ferland and possibly Justin Williams but have added Erik Haula.
It is not clear if the Hurricanes view Haula as that player or possibly just have a different ‘needs list’. I am record as believing that Haula is a good addition if he gets back up to speed after his injury, but at the same time I still think ideal would be to add one more player capable of being a catalyst for a second scoring line.
I had Paul Stastny on a want list, but with Vegas making two other moves to reduce their salary commitments, he is now much less likely to be available in the sell-off. I similarly think that Joe Pavelski for two years at market price would be a great upgrade and bridge to the future at the same time. He too is likely not available. And I do not see the Hurricanes taking a run at the premium free agents Matt Duchene and Artemi Panarin. So the question is what management still sees as a need at forward and who might be available to fill that need.
3) On defense — Should be ready to go
With the trade of Calvin de Haan and the addition of depth defenseman Gustav Forsling in that deal, the Hurricanes figure to be set on defense with a top 4 in place and Bean, Fleury and Forsling available to compete for the two third pairing slots. I could see adding another fringe AHL/NHL depth defenseman on a two-way contract and slotted for Charlotte, but I think more likely is that the Hurricanes enter the regular season with the current group on defense.
4) Oh and Sebastian Aho…
I list him fourth on this list only because I think the offer sheet theories are contrived.
An offer sheet only makes sense if a GM believes that team will not or cannot match. Otherwise you are mostly just risking making enemies with no results (which is why they are so rare).
— Canes and Coffee (@CanesandCoffee) June 25, 2019
And I also picked my date in the Sebastian Aho re-signing pool earlier this week.
— Canes and Coffee (@CanesandCoffee) June 27, 2019
What say you Canes fans?
1) What, if anything, do you still see as the Hurricanes’ needs at forward, goalie and defenseman respectively?
2) Who would you target in free agent or in trade to fill these needs?