In the name of activities to fill the summer, over the past few days, readers voted on an all-time Carolina Hurricanes roster of 20. You can find the roster of 20 that was selected HERE and also a link to a poll to vote on lines for the group. That page also includes links to short player bios for all 20 players from last summer’s CandC summer event.
Here is a collection of news and notes that have not made it into other recent Carolina Hurricanes blogs.
Today, the Penguins announced that they had re-signed restricted free agent Justin Schultz to a 1-year deal for $1.4 million. That reasonable price could help set a ceiling for Ryan Murphy’s new contract. Schultz is a little older (26 years old) a little more experienced (266 NHL games) and a little more successful (109 points) than Ryan Murphy who clocks in at 23 years old, 124 NHL games and a modest 35 points. Awhile back I estimated Murphy’s next contract at $1 million and still think that is about right. I figured Schultz’s deal puts the range for Murphy at a pretty narrow $800,000 to $1.2 million.
With the trade of James Wisniewski, Murphy is looking at a great and maybe last opportunity to seize a long-term place on the Hurricanes roster, but there is competition. I think he enters camp as the player penciled into the #6 slot on the right side but will need to fight to keep that position. Justin Faulk and Brett Pesce would slot above him. Jaccob Slavin projects to play on the left side but is comfortable playing on the right side if needed. Matt Tennyson who was added last week is also a right shot with some NHL experience. And after being passed by Hanifin, Slavin and Pesce on the depth chart last year, this training camp offers no rest with Haydn Fleury, Roland McKeown and Trevor Carrick next up to try to leapfrog him.
I think the Wisniewski buy out probably slows things down, but my post earlier this summer that had Murphy as 1 of the Canes most likely to be used as a trade asset still holds true.
Training camp and the front part of the 2016-17 season are make or break time for Ryan Murphy.
Bill Peters comments on Teuvo Teravainen and Elias Lindholm and resulting line combination clues
At the state of the Hurricanes talk at Summerfest last Saturday, Coach Bill Peters offered a significant clue as to how he sees the forward puzzle pieces fitting together. He made mention of using Teravainen and Lindholm together with the ability to sort of switch in and out of the center position. I did not write down the detailed quote, but my impression was that this was more on the fly than a switch at the end of a game or a period type of thing. The Canes system like many teams’ uses an F1/F2/F3 approach where role is dictated more by situation and where the puck is than position, so it makes sense. It sounds like whoever took a face-off would just remain at center in those situations, and I guess there would need to be some communication on the bench for changes on fly for who is coming in at center versus wing.
Peters did not talk about line combinations past that, but I think there are a couple upshots. A Teravainen/Lindholm pair would suggest a Rask/Stempniak pair (the other center and right wing if you assume that Nestrasil/JStaal/Nordstrom at least starts together). I think it would be reasonable to figure that Skinner goes with Rask and that the left wing slot next to Teravainen/Lindholm would be there to be won by either Sebastian Aho and Phil Di Giuseppe.
It is all subject to change instantly based on results from the first couple preseason games, but if I had to take a guess at the first look for lines relying primarily on reading the tea leaves and results from Peters’ comments on Saturday, I think that first look goes Skinner/Rask/Stempniak, Nestrasil/JStaal/Nordstrom, Aho or Di Giuseppe/Teravainen/Lindholm, Bickell or Di Giuseppe/McClement/Stalberg.
Random opportunistic trade possibilities
With the addition of Viktor Stalberg, Lee Stempniak and Matt Tennyson during the beginning of free agency, I think Ron Francis has built a team with which he would be willing to enter the 2016-17 season. So I do not think another move of any kind is imminent at this point. That said, I would not rule out 1 more deal either, especially if Francis can capitalize on another situation of a team in a desperate situation because of salary cap or other issues.
I am not sure “desperate” exists, but the combination of salary cap challenges both now and in the future and also the impending expansion draft continue to create interesting circumstances. Here are a few that could be in Francis’ wheelhouse:
—Anaheim and Kevin Bieksa: Right now the Ducks have 4 good young defensemen in Fowler, Vatanen, Lindholm and Despres. Lindholm is the last of the group who will need to be re-signed this summer at a higher salary. It is widely expected that the Ducks will trade 1 of these 4 good young defenseman partly because of salary cost and partly to avoid losing 1 of them for nothing in the expansion draft next summer. But here is where it gets interesting. Kevin Bieksa has a no-movement clause that forces him to be protected which means the Ducks would painfully need to protect Bieksa and probably only 2 of the young defensemen. Unless…Is it possible that Anaheim could persuade him to waive his NMC this summer? He has 2 years remaining at $4 million per year which does not excite me for a player who is no longer a top 4 defenseman. But is there a deal that sees Bieksa pressured to waive his NMC and the Ducks keeping half of his salary to avoid having to protect him next summer? The big question is how much Bieksa has left in the tank and if it is enough. That risk is reduced if Anaheim eats salary and again if this turns into 1 of those crazy deals like Versteeg last summer in which Francis actually gets paid to take a player.
—Pittsburgh and Marc-Andre Fleury: With Schultz’s signing today, the Penguins will officially squeeze under the cap ceiling once Pascal Dupuis goes on LTIR, so it is not required that the Pens trade Fleury. But the writing is still on the wall that playoff starter Matt Murray is the goalie of the future. And though the Pens do not necessarily need cap relief right now, they are likely to need it next summer when another batch of restricted free agents must be re-signed. Would Francis be willing to take on another $3 million of salary in a trade that swaps Eddie Lack plus modest futures to Pittsburgh for Fleury? That is an interesting question. Perhaps the even more interesting one is whether Pens GM Jim Rutherford move Fleury in division at all.
—Tampa Bay and Ben Bishop or possibly a forward: The situation is somewhat similar in Tampa Bay where Andrei Vasilevskiy is the goalie of the future and Bishop potentially on the trading block. A Bishop deal has even more complexity than the Fleury deal because Bishop is an unrestricted free agent next summer. In addition, salary cap issues and also the impending expansion draft next summer could possibly make a young but NHL-proven Lightning forward available to help ease the salary cap pressure.
—Edmonton and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins: A summer 2016 Canes and Coffee blog mentioning trades would not be complete without mention of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. The urgency for Edmonton to do something has dissipated. The desperation to add a defenseman is gone. But when the dust settles, Nugent-Hopkins is still a $6 million third line center on a team that very soon will need a king’s ransom to re-sign Leon Draisatl and Connor McDavid. So who knows.