In addition to the broader article on the draft and beginning of the NHL trade/free agent off-season, see also my article detailing why Steven Stamkos to the Carolina Hurricanes could surprisingly make sense for both teams.
So to put things into a normal NHL schedule, tomorrow and Wednesday are about the third weekend in June when the NHL Draft normally occurs. Then Friday is July 1 when free agency opens. In a normal off-season, that July 1 free agency kick off would put training camps out just over two months and the start of the regular season just over three months away. So if that schedule holds that would mean training camps in December and the start of the regular season early in the new year. But when exactly NHL hockey returns is a big unknown right now which makes the next couple weeks of regular NHL news even more exciting.
Today’s Daily Cup of Joe tries to put odds to different possibilities for the draft, trade activity surrounding the draft and the front part of free agency.
The Hurricanes select Russian goalie Yaroslav Askarov with the #13 selection in the 2020 NHL Draft – 10%
Aside from a couple players slated to go in the first few picks, probably the player with the most buzz right now is goalie Yaroslav Askarov. A few months ago, he was projected to be picked right around where the Hurricanes pick at #13, but his stock seems to have risen such that the odds of getting him at #13 have seemingly decreased. There are enough teams ahead of the Hurricanes who could take a chance on a promising young goalie that the Canes will not get the chance.
A few odds also related to that #13 draft pick:
Odds that the Canes trade up to get Askarov — 2%
Goalies are risky early, so trading additional draft assets to move up just bets even more on a risky bet. Nothing is impossible, but I would be very surprised.
Odds that the Canes trade down from #13 – 15%
I actually think this is more probable than netting Askarov. Mid-round picks land where a team can target one or a couple players and not know if any will actually be available. My somewhat long shot but not far-fetched prediction for the first round is that the Hurricanes trade down from #13 to #18 (or possibly #20) with the Devils and net another later draft pick in the deal. With two picks so close together, New Jersey could want a pick in a different range and be willing to pay a bit for it, and if who the Hurricanes really want at #13 gets snatched up earlier, the team’s playbook already includes trading down to increase quantity of picks.
The Hurricanes trade down at least once in the draft to acquire additional picks – 60%
Per my comments above, the team showed a regular willingness in the 2019 NHL Draft to trade down to add more picks. This was not random. This was a strategy that recognizes that mid-round draft picks are a bit of a lottery ticket, so the more tickets a team has the better chance there is of winning.
The Hurricanes add a goalie this week – 10%
I am on record with my extended goalie series as saying that the Hurricanes should at least explore options to upgrade in net. And I think there is a good chance that they will do exactly that before the 2020-21 season ends. But at the same time, I do not see the Hurricanes as being an aggressive early mover in this market. Though it might not be that way early on if a few general managers target and aggressively pursue their top options, there are enough goalies in this off-season’s game of musical chairs that it will be a buyers’ market at some point. Based on history under Don Waddell (and probably with some influence from Eric Tulsky), the team’s track record is that of a value shopper. Needing a goalie two years ago, the Canes signed a significantly discounted Petr Mrazek whose stock had sunk after a couple down seasons. Then last summer with a few higher-end options possibly available, the team opted for a short two-year commitment to Petr Mrazek at a modest price. In addition, with Mrazek, Reimer and Nedeljkovic under contract, the Hurricanes are not required to make a move. As such, I do think the Canes will make a move at goalie this off-season, but I also think it will be when a buyers’ market emerges and the team can get good value. So look for a move but later.
The Hurricanes pull off a blockbuster trade either during or shortly after the draft – 20%
If one considers that usually only a handful of teams are involved in big trades over draft weekend, that 20 percent is actually high. Two years ago the Carolina Hurricanes traded Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin for Dougie Hamilton, Micheal Ferland and then prospect Adam Fox. The trade was the biggest of the 2018 NHL Draft. Around the 2019 NHL Draft, the Hurricanes did not do a blockbuster but were active parting ways with Calvin de Haan in one trade and Scott Darling in another and adding James Reimer in the Darling trade and Erik Haula in another. The Hurricanes have been linked to Patrik Laine recently and Frederik Andersen when he had his couple days in the rumor mill. Despite the fact that I think Laine is a good fit as a finishing wing, I am on record as not generally liking a Laine trade because of the long-term financials. Andersen fits into the category of someone worth considering in net but per my comments above, only at the point where the cost is negligible. Most the Hurricanes trades have sort of come out of the blue, so if a deal is done, more of the same could be in order.
Naming names and doing deals
For fun, here is my shot at trying to do the nearly impossible in predicting specific deals.
With no Askarov at #13, the Hurricanes trade down to #18 and add a later draft pick in the deal.
Tied to the Coyotes trading either Kuemper or Raanta (not sure why everyone is so sure it is Kuemper that goes; Raanta has one fewer year on his contract and they are similar in age), the Hurricanes trade James Reimer to Arizona for futures possibly plus a depth player. For Arizona, the move replaces the departing goalie with a perfect contract that is fairly high in salary cap but low in actual out of pocket cost because of a bonus that is already paid. For the Hurricanes, the move gets the team down to two goalies in Mrazek and Nedeljkovic and also sets the team up to shop the market for another.
If the Hurricanes do a trade for a scoring wing, it is not Laine but instead someone mostly off the radar (as has been the case with pretty much all Canes trades the past couple years). If I had to take a wild guess at a name, I will go with Nikolaj Ehlers mostly beacause I think he is a great fit for the Hurricanes.
What say you Canes fans?
1) Which of my odds do you agree with? Which do you disagree with?
2) What are your predictions for the 2020 NHL Draft and also the next week or so?