This part 1 of a 3-part series to fill up most of the first week of August. Part 1 details other teams’ situations that could make players available. Part 2 will name some specific players and deals that might make sense. Part 3 will discuss why the probability is high that none of these deals will actually happen.
First, it is important to be clear that the probability of Hurricanes GM Ron Francis doing another deal is not that high. He did pull off the Kris Versteeg/Joakim Nordstrom deal just before training camp all the way into mid-September. And with the Teuvo Teravainen/Bryan Bickell trade, he showed an ongoing willingness to capitalize on other teams’ financial situations which still exist. So there is a chance.
That said, my best guess is that Francis is content to enter the 2016-17 season with what he has.
But it is August. Hockey news is sparse. The Kris Versteeg deal suggests it is possible. And I did not have any better ideas for Canes material for the first day of August and thought it was as good of a day as any to provide an update on some ideas from earlier in the summer given the changing landscape over the summer.
Handicapping the odds
70% – The Hurricanes enter the 2016-17 season with the current roster.
20% – Francis makes 1 more inexpensive depth addition.
10% – Francis has 1 more significant move in him yet this summer.
Situations ripe for Francis
If a deal of significance does happen, odds are that it will capitalize on 1 of 2 situations. First is a team with salary cap issues either for 2016-17 or possibly later. The other is simply the couple crazy seems who seem overanxious to unload a good player or 2 .
Cap-challenged with an extra goalie
Tampa Bay Lightning: With the buy out of Matthew Carle and a reasonable contract for Vladislav Namistnikov, Lightning GM Steve Yzerman is inching closer to making the math work for the 2016-17 season. Yzerman has $6.6 million left to get both Nikita Kucherov and Nikita Nesterov under contract. If Kucherov follows Stamkos’ lead and takes a slight discount that might be possible to get the Lightning legal for opening night. But it leaves zero flexibility during the 2016-17 season and also leaves a similar math puzzle for next summer when Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson, Jonathan Drouin and Brian Boyle are all up for new contracts certain to be more than their 2016-17 salaries.
No matter how you slice and dice the math, Ben Bishop is not affordable at the salary he will command next summer and seems almost certain to be gone by next summer. In addition, Yzerman will need to creatively dump some other underperforming salary in the form of Valteri Filppula or Ryan Callahan or part with a good young player or 2.
If not this summer then certainly by next summer, Yzerman will need to part with at least 2 current roster players.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Once the LTIR adjustments kick in, the Penguins will squeeze under the salary cap by $1-2 million, so former Canes GM Jim Rutherford does not have to do anything else this summer. That said, with 22-year old Matt Murray as the starter for the Stanley Cup run, Fleury expensive at $5.75 million, the impending expansion draft and numerous inexpensive young players, including Murray, up for bigger salaries next summer, odds are the Marc-Andre Fleury will be wearing a different uniform by this time next year. An in-division trade seems unlikely, but possible suitors for an expensive goalie are incredibly limited, so just maybe Rutherford is forced to do the deal he can instead of the one he wants.
Overzealous (and maybe even irrational GMs) trying to do 1 more deal
Edmonton Oilers: Edmonton does not have salary cap issues at least until Connor McDavid and Leon Draisatl are up for new contracts. And in getting the top 4 defenseman that they wanted in Adam Larsson, the Oilers’ opening night roster could be set. But for whatever reason, the late summer trade rumblings continuously have the Oilers and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in the mix. First it was Minnesota who is heavy on defense and Matt Dumba or somewhere else. On and off since late April, it has been Colorado and arbitration-bound Tyson Barrie. Cam Fowler or Kevin Shattenkirk are the other 2 big names allegedly available for the right trade. The Hurricanes will NOT win any bidding wars (would require Faulk) against any of these other options, but is it actually possible that the Oilers just want Ryan Nugent-Hopkins gone and at some point take the best available offer even if it is comprised of futures and not a proven top 4 defenseman? I think it is a remote possibility. With McDavid and Draisatl penned into the lineup as the top 2 centers right now, Nugent-Hopkins is a very expensive $6 million third-line center in Edmonton. That becomes an issue next summer when Draisatl is up for a new contract and an even bigger one the following summer when McDavid gets a huge raise. Is it possible a package of future and a young, inexpensive defenseman with upside is the highest bid and good enough to win Nugent-Hopkins?
Colorado Avalanche: Whereas Edmonton would win the NHL offseason award for “where there is smoke there is fire” with the Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson deal, Colorado would easily win the award for greatest amount of noise and rumblings for no actual activity. First there was talk that Matt Duchene and management were at odds which could make him available. Then, and still ongoing, is talk of Tyson Barrie possibly being traded. He is still scheduled to be the only player to actually make it to arbitration this summer because of inability to agree on his next contract. It is pure speculation as to whether Colorado GM Joe Sakic is still looking to deal, but 25-year old proven scorer would look really nice on a first line for the Hurricanes who are light on proven top 6 scorers. Is there a series of moves that sees the Avs part ways with Barrie to add a forward, preferably a center (i.e. Nugent-Hopkins), who could replace Duchene and then trade Duchene to back fill the defense. Again, the Hurricanes would likely find themselves in line behind Anaheim with Fowler and St. Louis with Shattenkirk, but if those deals do not materialize and Colorado gets irrational just maybe a package primarily of futures wins.
We saw P.K. Subban and Taylor Hall traded on the same day this summer, so impossible seems to be an overstatement for anything.
Blue line help needed
Boston Bruins: The triple strike of inexplicably trading away emerging young defenseman Dougie Hamilton last summer, seeing mainstay Dennis Seidenberg hit a wall physically and get bought out this summer and the aging of Zdeno Chara finds the Bruins suddenly really thin on the blue line. Big names Kevin Shattenkirk and Cam Fowler make most sense, but if neither of them is available for a price that the Bruins like, is it possible that the Bruins instead consider a young Hurricanes defenseman? It is unclear what the Bruins would offer in return and seems like plan B anyway, but in an NHL world short on solid top 4 defenseman just maybe the Bruins look to add young depth both for now and for later.
Two other teams reasonably likely to make trades are the Anaheim Ducks who still have a stockpile of young defensemen and is likely to move one (Cam Fowler is the name being bandied around most) partly for cap reasons, partly to add forward help and partly because they cannot all be protected in next summer’s expansion draft. Similarly, reports and rumors seem to suggest that the St. Louis Blues will look to collect a return for Kevin Shattenkirk who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. I think there is actually another funky (think Bickell/Teravainen) possibility for Anaheim, but in general neither of these teams are really trade partners for the Hurricanes whose possible upgrades lie at forward and in net.
Part 2 will venture out on a limb and conjure up some possible deals that could make sense for the Hurricanes and these potential trade partners and also highlight any obstacles. If you cannot stomach another run at Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, please pick a different source for your Canes coffee time news for Tuesday. 🙂