Today’s Daily Cup of Joe takes a break from the more formal series building the 2019-20 Carolina Hurricanes roster but stays mostly on the same topic identifying some difficult choices and offering early reactions.
His current contract is up after the 2019-20 season which puts him in a similar position to where Jeff Skinner was last summer. Ideally, the time is now to either re-sign Faulk or instead try to net a return for him probably in the form of a scoring forward. Faulk made a good case for staying longer-term with a much-improved 2018-19 season, but that might only have boosted his trade value and his asking price for his next contract.
Early thoughts: While I do think there is a legitimate case for re-signing Faulk and maintaining the blue line depth, my leaning is to sell high on Faulk. He will be 28 years old when his next contract starts and would push to 32 years old even if he settled for a relatively short four-year deal. That is not ancient by NHL standards, but as a player who in my opinion has straddled the mobility line already, I just think the risk is higher than the reward if his next contract clocks in higher than his current $5.9 million yearly salary.
All seems to be quiet on the western front with regard to Micheal Ferland which suggests he will test free agency. The burning question for me with Ferland is what the salary and term are. I would not be willing to pony up Tom Wilson type money, and I acknowledge that the injury risk is significant given Ferland’s style of play and recent history. But at the same time, his skill set as a capable old school enforcer, dangerous and disruptive presence and capable skater and scorer is a unique and valuable one that could be difficult to replace.
Early thoughts: Despite his second half slow down and injury issues, I still like Ferland if he can be signed for a modest salary and only for three years. So let’s call that three years at $3-3.5 million per year. That is more or less a third line price for a player who showed in 2018-19 that he was capable of producing in the top 6 in addition to being a physical force.
The goalie position
On the one hand, I think it is time to get Alex Nedeljkovic a look at the NHL level. On the other hand, I think people underestimate the risk of a rookie goalie. The paranoid part of me would actually consider bringing back both Petr Mrazek and Curtis McElhinney but making it a goal to get Nedeljkovic 15-20 NHL starts while still playing much of the season in Charlotte. That would be challenging if injuries do not tee up some starts. I guess another option cold be to go with a proven NHL starter with Nedeljkovic and also signing a good veteran AHL goalie with NHL experience to be a #3 down in Charlotte if needed.
Early thoughts: Anything other than _____/Nedeljkovic in net is going to be complicated and slow the process of assessing Nedeljkovic at the NHL level, so I would with some reservations go this route and also add an AHL goalie with some NHL experience.
Farm system versus free agency (or trades)
I am on record as thinking the goal this summer should be to try to improve. That could suggest adding another player from outside of the organization. But with the volume of players at the AHL level who seem close to ready to help at the NHL level, it is in the team’s best interest to have some flexibility to get some of the young guns ice time to see if they can produce at the NHL level. So the burning question is how much room to leave for AHL promotions versus swapping in proven NHLers.
Early thoughts: I think the Hurricanes could greatly benefit from adding just one more higher-end playmaker who can drive a second scoring line. The issue is that players of this ilk are pricey either requiring a sizable trade haul or requiring a huge bid to gain their services via free agency. I would try to add one more playmaker, but I would not get desperate and overpay for a second-tier type player who is not really the difference-maker desired.
What say you Canes fans?
1) Where do you land on these four tough decisions?
2) Do you have any other tough decisions that the team must make this summer?