Today’s Daily Cup of Joe offers a random collection of Canes catch up items.
Stocking the cupboard for the future
At the 2019 NHL Draft, the Hurricanes entered with a couple extra picks and traded down to add a few more. The results was the Hurricanes selecting 11 players compared to the standard seven. There are no guarantees with these young players of course, but quantity does help in terms of being more options to find good players and also in terms of having a deep prospect pool that can be utilized for trades. We saw the Hurricanes do that this summer when the team traded Nicolas Roy for Erik Haula.
The 2020 draft looks promising two. In addition to its own picks for the first three rounds, the team also has Toronto’s first-round pick as long as it is not in the top 10 picks and also a third-round pick from the Rangers that can become a second-rounder. Right now the Hurricanes are tracking toward having two picks in each of the first three rounds.
Rangers third round pick tracking to become a second-round pick
Both of those picks have upgraded a bit since the start of the season. The third-round pick from the Rangers will upgrade to a second-round pick if Adam Fox plays 30 games at the NHL level in 2019-20. Right now, he is in fact in the NHL lineup and has logged 19 games at the NHL level. That pick seems to be on track to upgrade to a second-rounder. Even better would be if the Rangers who are playing respectable .500 hockey right now went full rebuilding mode and sank in the standings to push the draft pick to just on the other side of the first round.
The Toronto first round pick is also rising
This summer, the Hurricanes also obtained a 2020 first round draft pick from the Maple Leafs in exchange for taking on Patrick Marleua’s contract and subsequently buying him out. The pick is protected such that if it becomes a top 10 pick, the Leafs will instead hand over their 2021 first round pick. With the Maple Leafs struggling right now, that pick is also rising. Whereas one might have figured that to be a #20-25 pick when obtained, right now it would be the #11 overall pick next summer. That is conveniently as high as it can be in 2020. If the Leafs fall further or win the draft lottery, the draft pick would roll to 2021 but also become unprotected. It seems unlikely, but I guess the perfect storm would be if the Leafs drafted in the top 10 this season to roll the pick forward and then fell even harder next season. But if the Leafs miss the playoffs this season and the pick lands neatly between #11 and #15, that in itself would be a nice upgrade.
Considering the trade market
Late November is usually when the NHL trade market opens up. The quarter to one-third mark is enough time for general managers to see their plans in action and assess where adjustments are needed. That amount of time also tends to create short-term and long-term needs for injury replacements.
Obviously, it is Don Waddell’s job to constantly consider ways to improve the team, but I would not expect the team to be aggressively active right. The most relevant thing is the Erik Haula situation. If it becomes unlikely that he will be a regular when he returns to the lineup, the potential is there for Waddell to seek help at the center position. I would be very surprised to see anything happen with this quickly. The team is winning right now, and Lucas Wallmark who bumped up to Haula’s spot played well filling in when Staal was injured last season. With Eetu Luostarinen also performing well so far, I would expect the Hurricanes to be in wait and see mode for at least a few weeks.
Who knows if there is anything to it, but the Flames struggles under Bill Peters has Gaudreau’s name out there. In general, I think when a player of his caliber becomes available that it makes sense to at least try. Every year, a handful of top shelf players suddenly become available because of a team’s struggles. Recent entries in Ryan O’Reilly, Vladimir Tarasenko (who was not ultimately traded) and Taylor Hall. Unfortunately, I do not think the Hurricanes could make this work. The asking price would be high, and I do not see the Hurricanes doing an even player trade. Further, even if the Hurricanes could broker a package deal, the salary cap situation is challenging. So long story short, I would be shocked.
What could happen?
Again, I would be somewhat surprised to see the Hurricanes make a move near-term versus giving the current configuration a bit of run time. But if either Wallmark or Luostarinen sputters in their upgraded roles, then I could see the Hurricanes try to make a move for a center. Even if Haula does return, he is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. If his knee is questionable, he is less likely to be re-signed.
The ideal move would be to trade some combination of medium to higher-end futures plus a depth forward and include James Reimer to make the salary cap math work. It is a bit early, but a few teams are trending toward being lottery hopefuls and not playoff hopefuls.
I think the next checkpoint in this regard would be mid-December after some run time with the current roster. If the team keeps winning, that just encourages patience and maybe waiting until closer to the trade deadline to fire a single bullet at an upgrade.
What say you Canes fans?
1) For the Toronto draft pick would you rather take a nice upgrade to #11 to #15 if the Leafs miss the playoffs, or would you rather gamble for much bigger hoping the pick rolls forward a year and that the Leafs then plummet further?
2) Recognizing that there is no desperate need or urgency, what type of player(s) would you kick the tires on a bit in terms of the trade market?