Depending on where you want to allocate the odd day in July, we are officially entering the second half of July and the dog days of hockey summer. The second half of July and the first half of August are easily the slowest days on the hockey calendar. Prospect camp is in the rear view mirror and even start of informal skates is still a ways into the future, and many a day goes by without any substantial news.
But for the Hurricanes, there are likely to be some big news days interspersed around the mostly nothing days. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe attempts to detail all of the stories to watch during the rest of the summer.
1) Jeff Skinner as a trade possibility
Last week included more rumblings about a potential Jeff Skinner trade when he and Max Pacioretty were rumored to be of interest to the Blackhawks. For as many changes as the Hurricanes have made already, I still think a true shake up and restart culture-wise must include the departure of at least one of the team’s leaders. Otherwise, the result of the offseason is scapegoats across the bottom of the lineup with the leadership still intact. It is hard to say who is more likely to be traded, but with one year remaining on his contract, I continue to say that the team either needs to re-sign Skinner or trade him. That combined with the regular rumors around him since before the draft even, I think a Skinner trade is definitely possible.
2) Justin Faulk as a trade possibility
Just like Skinner, Justin Faulk represents part of the leadership that in some way still needs to be changed. My math also says that he is currently the #5 defenseman with another right shot defenseman already signed to fulfill that role at about 40 percent of his salary. Faulk does have two years remaining on his current contract which makes a decision on his future less urgent, but like Skinner his name has regularly been mentioned in trade circles. There are not guarantees, but Faulk is definitely worth watching.
3) Sebastian Aho’s next contract
Sebastian Aho is signed through the 2018-19 season and is only a restricted free agent next summer. As such, nothing has to happen with him this summer. But as a young player who has quickly cemented himself as part of the core of the team heading into the future, I think it makes sense to commit early and avoid the risk of significant contract inflation if Aho has a break out year in 2018-19 that pushes him up into a different salary tier.
4) The Carolina Hurricanes captaincy
Though there is a good chance that the decision on changing the captaincy is already made in Rod Brind’Amour’s head, an official announcement might well not happen until the second half of training camp. But if Skinner and Faulk are both traded, then I think things could be decided and announced sooner with the aim of setting a new tone and direction right from the start of training camp. I also think that if Justin Williams is named the captain that he could well start into his work in leading the informal skates.
5) An assistant coach to lead the blue line and the penalty kill
With the resignation of Steve Smith last week to accept a similar job with the Buffalo Sabres, the Hurricanes again have a vacancy in the coaching staff. Personally, I would love to see Brind’Amour nab a veteran coach with head coaching experience. Such an addition could be a valuable sounding board for Brind’Amour as rookie head coach. The move could also be a chance to either fuel or dispel concerns that the team is either: A) To cheap to hire top-end talent or B) Unable to attract such talent. Regardless, the team needs to add a defense coach before the start of training camp.
6) The possible addition of a depth defenseman
If Justin Faulk is traded, the Hurricanes will be set in terms of having a group of six defenseman, but the will have only unproven talent with less than 10 games between them for options for a #7 defenseman. Giving Trevor Carrick a chance and a reward in that lesser role as is the possibility of using another young defenseman. But except for Carrick, it does not make sense to pull a player away from 20 minutes of AHL ice time to sit in an NHL press box as a healthy scratch. As such, with prices now falling, I would not be surprised to see the Hurricanes add a veteran depth defenseman on a one-year deal at a discounted price.
7 ) Teuvo Teravainen’s next contract
Like his line mate Aho, Teuvo Teravainen’s contract is also up next summer. I think Teravainen is less likely to be locked into a next deal this summer but nonetheless acknowledge that it is definitely a possibility.
What say you Canes fans?
1) Which of these do you anticipate happening by the end of August?
2) Do you have any other story lines that could provide news/activity in the next 4-6 weeks?